Plenary 5

Hashtag: #eurodig_pl5

Security, Internet principles and human rights

Referring to proposal no.: 14, 22, 39, 42, 52, 65, 74,77 + voting result
Find here the list of submitted proposals

Organising team / focal point: Marianne Franklin, IRP Coalition (IGF)/Goldsmiths University of London

The format for this session inaugurates a “360°” participatory model; key participants from the podium will be joined by invited participants speaking from the floor. Interventions will be brief to allow more time and opportunity for invited guests to share their knowledge and details from their areas of expertise. Audience input is welcome provided that interventions are also brief. The moderator reserves the prerogative to interrupt long interventions. Key participants on the podium:

Key participants on the floor:

Moderator: Marianne Franklin, IRP Coalition (IGF)/Goldsmiths University of London

Reporter: Matthias Traimer, Federal Chancellery of Austria

Remote participation moderator:  Viktor Szabados, facilitator of the No Hate Speech Movement, IRPC board member, ICANN stakeholder

Description / key focus: In this plenary we consider the overlaps, and disconnects, between three sorts of aspirations for the internet, and internet policy-making; (state) security, internet governance principles, and human rights and fundamental freedoms. For some these concerns are irreconcilable. For others they must be reconciled for internet-dependent communications to be resilient, accessible for more than a wealthy and educated minority, and to function in democratic rather than oppressive ways. For others, the trend in rights-based declarations of intent or high-level agreements on broad principles do not deal adequately with the changing circumstances of internet design, access, and use. Nor are these sufficient for ensuring that governments, private service providers, and citizens access and use web-based goods and services in rights-based and principled ways. The devil here is in the details and knowledge of these details is not accessible for all. What everyone does agree on, however, is that decisions that have implications for internet design, access, and use lie at the heart of political, economic, and everyday life whether we like it or not. Recent events underscore the need to ensure that human rights and freedoms can be protected and enjoyed online not only today but also in the future. UN agencies, and high-level meetings have been producing landmark statements recognizing that human rights online matter (e.g. the UNHRC, NETmundial), with signatories undertaking to work together to develop principles for internet governance processes within a rights-based framework. Legal experts, the technical community, and civil society representatives have been mobilizing to see this wave of high-level recognition and non-binding agreements can be put into practice in palpable ways. However, opinions differ markedly on how exactly, on what the priorities are (e.g. state security versus personal privacy), by whom (e.g. governments or multistakeholder institutions). Opinions also sharply differ on who foots the bill, the means by which decisions are made, and for whose benefit. In this plenary we consider the interrelationship between (state) security priorities, internationally agreed sets of principles for internet governance, and international human rights norms from a range of perspectives. It unpacks different understandings of what these three goals mean for specific situations (e.g. law enforcement, the rights and security of children and young people, people with disabilities) and present their visions for how these goals can be reconciled for the future; particularly as the present has been marked by the Snowden revelations of mass surveillance online and its aftermath for engineers, politicians, businesses, activists, and ordinary people. Plenary participants come from a range of stakeholder groups; rights-holders and technical communities, intergovernmental organizations, advocacy groups, and scholars. In light of the game-changing events of the last year the primary goal of this plenary is for participants to share knowledge, articulate their main priorities, and agree to three action points to take forward.


Links: …find out more on the WIKI here


  1. Internet security is often misused by states to justify arbitrary interferences with citizens` fundamental rights. By applying vague definitions to terms like national security and terrorism many governments take disproportionate measures –such as mass surveillance of online activities of their people. Digital disarmament is therefore urgently needed.
  2. Internet security, which doubtlessly is both an obligation and necessity to protect people, networks and data, should be re-conceptualised with regard to the core value of human rights.  The challenge is to find the right balance between the protection of human rights based freedoms and security protection needs in a universal context done in a very heterogeneous world of morals, values and ideals.
  3. Especially for communities that are endangered by non-democratic governmental but also societal repression, the Internet must be a tool to help them defend their rights and to have them defended for them. The Internet should not allow Big Brother to watch us, but should allow us to watch Big Brother.

Read the transcript here!