The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) is an intergovernmental coalition that was established at the inaugural Freedom Online Conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, on December 8th and 9th 2011. As indicated in its founding declaration, the FOC is committed to advancing internet freedom – free expression, association, assembly, and privacy online – worldwide. FOC member states are committed to working together diplomatically to voice concern over measures to restrict internet freedom and support those individuals whose human rights online are curtailed.
Currently, the FOC consists of Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since 2011, the Coalition has grown from 15 initial members to 24 today.
Since its inception, members of the Coalition have gathered informally as governments and in consultation with other stakeholders at numerous conferences and intergovernmental meetings relevant to internet freedom as well as in specific countries, to coordinate viewpoints, share relevant information, and discuss strategies to advance an open internet in each context. Many FOC meetings took place in the past year, in forums ranging from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to the United Nations Human Rights Council, to the Internet Governance Forum and the Stockholm Internet Forum. A good example of joint action since the founding of the coalition was coordination among FOC members during the ITU WCIT meeting, December 2012, in Dubai, and a joint statement at the OSCE Internet Freedom conference in Vienna, February 2013.
In addition to these meetings, the FOC hosts annual multi-stakeholder Conferences that aim to deepen the discussions on how freedom of expression on the internet is helping to promote social, cultural and economic development. After the inaugural Conference in The Hague, the FOC members met formally for the second time in Nairobi in September 2012, when the government of Kenya hosted the second major Conference, which attracted over 450 participants from a range of stakeholder groups from across the world. Tunisia organized the third Freedom Online Conference in Tunis, Tunisia, from June 16th to 18th 2013, which focused on three specific themes: “Towards an internet free and secure”, “Digital development and openness”, and “Supporting privacy and transparency online”. The Conference attracted over 500 participants and provided a multi-stakeholder platform to discuss issues of Internet freedom with a particular regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa. FOC members came to Tunis to engage with other governments, regional organizations, international institutions, civil society and the private sector, to reinforce the Coalition’s efforts in this regard.
The fourth Freedom Online Conference “Free and Secure Internet for All” was held in Tallinn, Estonia, from April 28th to 29th 2014, hosted by the Estonian government. During the Conference in Tallinn, FOC members continued the dialogue held in Tunis through the establishment of working groups on key issues of concern. Additionally, the FOC established a mechanism of regular communication with other stakeholders throughout the year. At a time when internet policy issues have become one of the most intensely discussed international issue, the Coalition has a vital role play to in promoting the values of democracy and human rights online.
The Fifth Freedom Online Conference “Internet Policy Making: Best Practice for Promoting Online Freedom” will be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, from 4 to 5 May 2015, hosted by the Mongolian Government. Other topics of interest include challenges and prospects of online freedom in the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information: http://freedomonline.mn/