Freedom of Expression and Mass Media Technologies

Post by Professor Lorna Woods

Two months into 2012 and it seems that last year’s Arab Spring has given the impetus to some international bodies to look at mechanisms to facilitate the free flow of information through mass communications media.

The Internet is the example that leaps readily to mind and indeed, the EU Commission revealed that the ICT sector was one of three selected for the development of sector specific human rights guidance aimed at companies in the sector, so as to support corporate social responsibility.

Of course, given the nature of the ICT sector, the development of these guidelines should also support the Commission’s ‘No Disconnect’ strategy, announced by Neelie Kroes just before Christmas.

Presumably the ‘No Disconnect’ Strategy should apply without it discrimination. It was, however, specifically based on a reaction to the events of the ‘Arab Spring’, and the Commission Communication “A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean” (COM (2011) 200).

A slightly less obvious example is that of satellite broadcasting.  Satellite broadcasting is regulated in the international sphere via the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), limiting and coordinating the freedom of signatory states in the field of use of radio frequency and orbiting satellites.  A decision was taken at this year’s ITU World Radio Communications Conference (WRC-12) to allow signatory states to take action when they discover that other states have deliberately interfered with satellite transmissions, ie jamming them.  One hundred and sixty five of the ITU’s 193 members, agreed to the amendment of Article 15.2 of the ITU regulations so as to allow signatory states make take ‘necessary actions’.

hs into 2012 and it seems that last year’s Arab Spring has given the impetus to some international bodies to look at mechanisms to facilitate the free flow of information through mass communications media.

The Internet is the example that leaps readily to mind and indeed, the EU Commission revealed that the ICT sector was one of three selected for the development of sector specific human rights guidance aimed at companies in the sector, so as to support corporate social responsibility.  http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=5752&lang=en

Of course, given the nature of the ICT sector, the development of these guidelines should also support the Commission’s ‘No Disconnect’ strategy, announced by Nellie Kroes just before Christmas.  http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/11/1525&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Presumably the ‘No Disconnect’ Strategy should apply without it discrimination. It was, however, specifically based on a reaction to the events of the ‘Arab Spring’, and the Commission Communication “A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean” (COM (2011) 200). http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0200:FIN:EN:PDF

A slightly less obvious example is that of satellite broadcasting.  Satellite broadcasting is regulated in the international sphere via the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), limiting and coordinating the freedom of signatory states in the field of use of radio frequency and orbiting satellites.  A decision was taken at this year’s ITU World Radio Communications Conference (WRC-12) to allow signatory states to take action when they discover that other states have deliberately interfered with satellite transmissions, ie jamming them.  One hundred and sixty five of the ITU’s 193 members, agreed to the amendment of Article 15.2 of the ITU regulations so as to allow signatory states make take ‘necessary actions’. http://www.ebu.ch/en/union/news/2012/tcm_6-74499.php

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