Freedom of information


Freedom of information

Freedom of information (or information freedom) may refer to the "accessibility" of government-held information (Freedom of information legislation and Open government), or the protection of the right to freedom of expression with regards to the Internet and information technology (see also, digital rights). Freedom of information may also concern censorship in an information technology context, i.e. the ability to access Web content, without censorship or restrictions.

Freedom of information is a extension of freedom of speech, a fundamental human right recognised in international law, which is today understood more generally as freedom of expression in any medium, be it orally, in writing, print, through the Internet or through art forms. This means that the protection of freedom of speech as a right includes not only the content, but also the means of expression. [Andrew Puddephatt, Freedom of Expression, The essentials of Human Rights, Hodder Arnold, 2005, pg.128] Freedom of information may also refer to the right to privacy in the context of the Internet and information technology. As with the right to freedom of expression, the right to privacy is a recognised human right and freedom of information acts as an extension to this right. [http://freenetproject.org/papers/freenet-ieee.pdf Protecting Free Expression Online with Freenet - Internet Computing, IEEE ] ]

Internet censorship

The concept of freedom of information has emerged in response to state sponsored censorship, monitoring and surveillance of the internet. Internet censorship includes the control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet.

According to the Reporters without Borders (RSF) "internet enemy list" the following states engage in pervasive internet censorship: Cuba, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar/Burma, North Korea, Syria, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. [http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=19603 List of the 13 Internet enemies] RSF, 2006 November] A widely publicised example is the Great Firewall of China (in reference both to its role as a network firewall and to the ancient Great Wall of China). The system blocks content by preventing IP addresses from being routed through and consists of standard firewall and proxy servers at the Internet gateways. The system also selectively engages in DNS poisoning when particular sites are requested. The government does not appear to be systematically examining Internet content, as this appears to be technically impractical. [cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/china/story/0,,1713317,00.html|title=War of the words |publisher=The Guardian] Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China is conducted under a wide variety of laws and administrative regulations. In accordance with these laws, more than sixty Internet regulations have been made by the People's Republic of China (PRC) government, and censorship systems are vigorously implemented by provincial branches of state-owned ISPs, business companies, and organizations. [cite web|url= http://www.hrw.org/reports/2006/china0806/3.htm|title= II. How Censorship Works in China: A Brief Overview|accessdate= 2006-08-30|accessmonthday= |accessyear= |author= |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher=Human Rights Watch |archivedate=] [ [http://www.chinaeclaw.com/english/showCategory.asp?Code=022 Chinese Laws and Regulations Regarding Internet] ]

Groups such as the Global Internet Freedom Consortium advocate for freedom of information for what they term "closed societies". The Global Internet Freedom Consortium defines its mission as:

"...to build a pioneering online platform that breaks down the Great Firewalls blocking the free flow of information penetrating into, moving within, and originating from closed societies (e.g., China and Iran) via the Internet. This open, free, and resource-rich online platform will enable hundreds of millions of users, both inside and outside of closed societies, to share information and viewpoints freely without fear of reprisal and with protection of privacy. It will serve as a vehicle to inform, connect, and empower the people with information on a free Internet to effect positive social change." [cite web |url=http://www.internetfreedom.org/mission |title=Mission| publisher =Global Internet Freedom Consortium |accessdate=2008-07-29]

Freedom of information and human rights

The group Hacktivismo, founded in 1999, argues that access to information is a basic human right and advances what may be termed digital rights. The group's beliefs are described fully in the "Hacktivismo Declaration" which is a list of "assertions of liberty in support of an uncensored internet" and seeks to apply the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to the Internet. The Declaration recalls the duty of member states to the ICCPR to protect the right to freedom of expression with regards to the internet and in this context what is called the "freedom of information".http://www.cultdeadcow.com/cDc_files/declaration.html] The Hacktivismo Declaration states:
*"...such member states continue to wilfully suppress wide-ranging access to lawfully published information on the Internet, despite the clear language of the ICCPR that freedom of expression exists in all media,"
*"...that transnational corporations continue to sell information technologies to the world's most repressive regimes knowing full well that they will be used to track and control an already harried citizenry,
*"...that the Internet is fast becoming a method of repression rather than an instrument of liberation,"
*"...that in some countries it is a crime to demand the right to access lawfully published information, and of other basic human rights,"
*"...that denying access to information could lead to spiritual, intellectual, and economic decline, the promotion of xenophobia and destabilization of international order,"The Hacktivismo Declaration recognises "the importance to fight against human rights abuses with respect to reasonable access to information on the Internet" and calls upon the hacker community to "study ways and means of circumventing state sponsored censorship of the internet" and "implement technologies to challenge information rights violations".The Hacktivismo Declaration does however recognise that the right to freedom of expression is subject to limitations, stating "we recognised the right of governments to forbid the publication of properly categorized state secrets, child pornography, and matters related to personal privacy and privilege, among other accepted restrictions." However, the Hacktivismo Declaration states "but we oppose the use of state power to control access to the works of critics, intellectuals, artists, or religious figures."

Implementation in legislation

See:
*Freedom of information legislation
**Freedom of information in the United Kingdom
**Freedom of information in the United States

References

ee also

*Transparency (humanities)
*Freedom (philosophy)
*Openness
*Free Information Infrastructure
*Information wants to be free
*Freenet


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • freedom of information — n [U] the right to see any information that is held by the government. Both the US and UK have a Freedom of Information Act that allows people to see certain information held by the government. In Britain, the government can keep some information …   Universalium

  • freedom of information — freedom of infor mation noun uncount the right of citizens of a country to see official information that governments and other institutions keep about them …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • freedom of information — noun 1. the ability of the community to have access to information in the possession of the government, in order to be better informed about its operations and practices. 2. the principle that the community should have such access to information …   Australian English dictionary

  • freedom of information — right to have access to information …   English contemporary dictionary

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