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Yesterday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted the report of member of the Estonian Delegation to the PACE Andres Herkel “Internet Governance and Human Rights”.

Herkel emphasised that the internet had an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives, and had become indispensable for hundreds of millions of people and for the well-being of our societies. Therefore, it is necessary to pay more attention to the human rights on the internet “This was also the reason for drawing up and presenting of my report. In the report, I focus on human rights, which we must protect together. Everyone must have access to the internet with no discrimination, and it is also necessary to ensure that the internet remains an ecosystem that is open for everybody,” Herkel said.

According to the report, it is necessary to strengthen the protection of freedom of expression and freedom of information. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure the users’ security and to respect their privacy, especially from the point of view of the protection of personal data.

“The internet operators must feel this pressure, and also those who create new possibilities for use for the internet – the internet of things and the artificial intelligence may be pointed out as examples here,” Herkel added.

Using of the personal data of internet users should be decided by each person themselves, but this is a domain where business interests prevail. “Therefore I proposed that internet governance should be multi-stakeholder and decentralised, transparent and responsible. It should also be collaborative and participatory,” Herkel said.

In Herkel’s opinion, safeguarding of human rights requires established procedures, which must be laid down by the community of states in consultation with other stakeholders. In Europe, the Council of Europe and the European Union have the main role, in their cooperation, the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) should play a more significant role.

Herkel pointed out that the issues relating to the internet have risen to the focus in the PACE. Several reports dealing with it are being prepared in the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, the activities in the web get increasing attention during elections and election observations, and also monitoring the functioning of the democratic institutions of the member states. “When we speak of cyber security, it means the vulnerability of big strategic infrastructures, and also that our democratic government system and institutions would be protected against the attacks coming from outside,” Herkel said.

Besides the report, recommendations of the Council of Europe to the governments of member states were adopted with 60 votes for, three against and two abstentions.

Riigikogu Press Service
Veiko Pesur
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