General

Yesterday, over 80 countries — including the U.S. — backed a United Nations resolution protecting the freedom of the Internet. The resolution

Affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Recognizes the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms;

Calls upon all States to promote and facilitate access to the Internet and international cooperation aimed at the development of media and information and communications facilities in all countries;

Encourages special procedures to take these issues into account within their existing mandates, as applicable;

Decides to continue its consideration of the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, on the Internet and in other technologies, as well as of how the Internet can be an important tool for development and for exercising human rights, in accordance with its programme of work.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt called the resolution a “victory for the Internet,” writing:

The vote in Geneva on Thursday was a breakthrough of fundamental importance. Beyond affirming that freedom of expression applies also to the Internet, the resolution also recognized the immense value the Internet has for global development and called on all states to facilitate and improve global access to it.