OSCE statement about freedom of the media on-line

By EDRi · June 19, 2003

At the end of a two-day conference in Amsterdam on internet-related perils
to freedom of expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media,
Freimut Duve has issued a call to take up a strong position towards free
flow of information on the internet. The Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the largest regional security organization
in the world with 55 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and
North America.

“Freedom of the Media as a human right is universal. No matter what
technical means are used to channel the work of journalists to the public –
be it TV, radio, newspapers or the Internet – the basic constitutional
value of freedom of the media must not be questioned”, Freimut Duve said in
his opening remarks to the conference.

In his statement Duve addresses the delicate balance between the need to
fight illegal content and the importance to guarantee freedom of
expression. “All legislative and law enforcement activity must clearly
target only illegal content and not the infrastructure of the Internet
itself.” Filtering or blocking content is not acceptable, problems with
illegal content should be addressed in the country of origin, Duve writes,
because “In a modern democratic and civil society citizens themselves
should make the decision on what they want to access on the Internet.”

The recommendation also addresses the perils to free speech arising from
the extensions of copyright and patent law. “To a considerable extent the
fast pace of innovation of digital networks is due to the fact that most of
the basic code and software are in the public domain, free for everyone to
use and enhance. This free-of-charge infrastructure is one of the key
elements of freedom of expression on the Internet. Access to the public
domain is important for both technical and cultural innovation and must not
be endangered through the adoption of new provisions related to patent and
copyright law.”

Amsterdam Recommendation (17.06.2003)