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Estonia Helps Protect Free Movement of Information in Cyberspace


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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supporting next year’s activities of the Digital Defenders Partnership foundation with 50,000 Euros.

According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Estonia is a global leader in terms of internet freedom. “Supporting freedom of expression in cyberspace is just as important as all other activities associated with the protection and promotion of human rights,” said Paet. “We would also like to cooperate closely with other initiatives that stand for the same values, whether they are from other countries or of an international nature,” he added.

Estonia is also the current chairman of the Freedom Online Coalition. In the spring of 2014 the coalition’s annual conference will be taking place in Tallinn with the topic “Free and Secure Internet for All”. In addition to freedom of expression online, Paet said that the conference will also focus on the topics of privacy, transparency, public-private-partnership, and other connected questions regarding the future of free and secure internet usage.

The Digital Defenders Partnership was created in 2012 under the leadership of the foreign ministries of Holland, USA, and UK. It is managed by the Dutch non-governmental organization Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS). The objective of the foundation is to protect the free spread of information in cyberspace and provide rapid assistance to maintain internet connectivity in cases where governments attempt to discontinue it. The foundation also aims to support the activities of peaceful human rights defenders operating in cyberspace. The foundation’s target audience includes non-governmental organizations of developing countries, who can help to provide aid and pressure state governments.

At the moment, the foundation has two active missions, one in Central Asia and the other in North Africa. The goal of the missions is to assess the region’s risks and verify what kind of assistance will be needed by bloggers, journalists, and human rights activists. This year, Estonia supported the foundation’s activities with 30,000 Euros.

The Internet Freedom Coalition was  established in 2011 at an internet freedom conference in The Hague under the leadership of the Dutch Foreign Ministry. By today, the membership has grown to 21 states. The other member states besides Estonia are Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Holland, USA, Great Britain, Sweden, Costa Rica, Finland, Tunisia, Latvia, Germany, and Georgia.

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