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Estonia Helping to Protect and Promote Free Movement of Information in Cyberspace


No 443-E

The Foreign Ministry has decided to support the new Digital Defenders Partnership.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that 10 December is International Human Rights Day and in connection with the occasion, it should be emphasised that freedom of expression in the internet is also a human right. “The protection of internet freedom is also one of Estonia’s priorities in the human rights sector,” Paet noted.

The foreign minister added that Estonia considers the protection and promotion of freedom of expression on the internet to be essential. “The right to express oneself freely must be maintained in cyberspace. Access to the internet all over the world should also be increased,” Paet stressed. Therefore Estonia has decided to make its contribution to support the activities of the newly created Digital Defenders Partnership.

Paet said that Estonia highly values the work of the Internet Freedom Coalition created in 2011. “We would like to organise the annual meeting of the coalition in Tallinn in 2014 and have already begun preparations for it,” stated the foreign minister.

The goal of the Digital Defenders Partnership fund is to protect the free movement of information in cyberspace and offer rapid assistance in keeping up the internet in situations when governments try to cut off connection to the internet. The fund would also like to support the activities of peaceful defenders of human rights working online. The target group of the fund is NGOs in developing countries through whom aid is given and pressure is placed on the states’ governments.

The creation of the fund was announced by the foreign ministries of the Netherlands, USA and United Kingdom at the second annual meeting of the Internet Freedom Coalition held from 6-7 September in Nairobi. The fun is managed by the Dutch development co-operation NGO HIVOS (Humanist Institute for Development Co-operation).

The Internet Freedom Coalition was created in 2011 at an internet freedom conference that took place in The Hague upon the initiative of the Dutch Foreign Ministry. Today the coalition has grown to 18 members. In addition to Estonia, the members are Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, the Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, the Netherlands, USA, United Kingdom, Sweden, Costa Rica, Finland, and Tunisia.

The Foreign Ministry is supporting the activities of the new Digital Defenders Partnership fund in 2013 with 30 000 euros. The money to support the fund is being allocated from the budget for the Foundation for Democratic Development (DASA).

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