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Estonia Considers Restriction of Internet Access Unacceptable


No. 406-E

Today at the conference on internet freedom being held in The Hague, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that peoples’ right to express themselves freely must apply in cyberspace as well. “Freedom of virtual expression is a human right and must be protected and promoted. The availability of the internet must also be supported and expanded,” he noted.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that what happened and is happening in many Arab countries is an example of how the internet and other modern-day information and communications technology solutions help with the spreading of democratic values. “Therefore we feel it is essential to introduce new technologies and make them accessible to people. Estonia is constantly sharing its experiences with implementing and using e-solutions with its development co-operation partners,” said Paet. “This year we have sent a civil expert in e-government to Albania, supported e-government training for state officials from Zambia, and helped increase the digital security capabilities of the Palestinian Authority,” said the foreign minister, giving examples of Estonia’s aid. Estonia’s e-solutions are being used in over 40 countries altogether.

The foreign minister also emphasised that, in addition to freedom, security must also be guaranteed on the internet, since the internet can be an environment for carrying out widespread violations of the law. “Cyber security and preventing cyber crimes is an important topic for all the countries in the world. At the same time, the fight against cyber crime must be carried out in such a way that it does not restrict freedom of speech and human rights,” said Paet. The foreign minister added that currently the only internationally binding instrument for hindering and preventing cyber crimes is the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime. “We call upon all countries that have not yet joined the convention to do so,” said Paet.

Topics discussed within the framework of the conference on internet freedom in The Hague included opportunities for governments to protect human rights on the internet and the role and responsibility of internet companies in ensuring internet freedom. Secretary of States of the USA Hillary Clinton and the foreign ministers of many other countries as well as representatives from international organisations, internet companies, periodical publications, and research institutions participated in the conference.

Yesterday Foreign Minister Paet also participated in the Google event on freedom of the press entitled “Google & Free Press Unlimited Event”.

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