The Council of Europe – Internet Policy

Nordicom – Media Policy Newsletter

In a submission to the international Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which will meet in Rio de Janeiro, 1 -15 November 2007, the Council of Europe advances the concept of public service value of the Internet.

People rely on the Internet as an essential tool for their everyday activities and therefore rightly expect Internet services to be accessible and affordable, secure, reliable and continuous. “The public service value of the Internet needs to be recognised as a cross-cutting multifaceted aspect of Internet governance,“ underlines the Council.

The Internet must be governed in full respect of human rights; in particular, the fundamental right to freedom of expression. A democratic system of governance is the best guarantor of fundamental rights, says the Council adding that e-tools for public participation could be used to enhance democratic governance of the Internet and to involve all relevant stakeholders in the process.
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In the 15 page document is the following interesting paragraph on user-generated content:

The emergence of fora for user-generated content and interactive communities has contributed positively to the creation of new content and services. The Council of Europe is a firm believer in the value of promoting public participation in using and contributing content to the Internet. Internet users reflect the diversity of society (represented in terms of age, gender or sexual preferences, national, linguistic or cultural background, education level, persons with disabilities, etc.). By providing different groups in society – including cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious or other minorities – with an opportunity to receive and impart information, to express themselves and to exchange ideas, the Internet is an essential tool for safeguarding cultural and linguistic diversity. This requires, for example, promoting and protecting locally developed content, including content that is not commercially viable, and the involvement of language communities in developing multilingual content, including content in indigenous and minority languages.

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