The Freedom Online Coalition is a group of governments committed to collaborating to advance Internet freedom. As Internet repression increases around the world, the Coalition provides a forum for like-minded governments to coordinate efforts and work with civil society and the private sector in a multi-stakeholder process to support the ability of individuals to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms online.
Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal launched the Coalition at a conference in The Hague in December 2011, with keynote remarks from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Since the Coalition’s launch, participating states have met regularly at an expert level to coordinate strategies to advance Internet freedom, both through multilateral organizations and in countries of concern. The second annual Coalition conference, hosted by the Government of Kenya in September 2012, focused on the importance of Internet freedom in fostering development. The Government of Tunisia will host the third conference in 2013.
Countries that join the Coalition endorse a strong declaration of support for the principle that all people enjoy the same human rights online as they do offline, including the freedoms of expression, assembly and association; the freedom of religion or belief; and the right to the protection of the law against arbitrary interference with privacy. Participating states dedicate themselves to areas of concrete action:
- Diplomatic coordination: Coordinating efforts to advance Internet freedom as the issue arises in bilateral, multilateral, and multi-stakeholder fora
- Support for civil society: Providing political support for individuals facing Internet repression, and in the case of some participating states, project aid through the Digital Defenders Partnership
- Engagement with the private sector: Working with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies to encourage them to adopt practices and policies to respect human rights
Participants: Eighteen governments spanning Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East belong to the Coalition. Membership is open to additional countries that have demonstrated strong records and leadership on this issue.
The participating countries include: Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Estonia, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, The Netherlands, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Sweden.
Digital Defenders Partnership: Managed by the Dutch NGO Hivos, the Digital Defenders Partnership is an unprecedented collaboration among government donors to provide emergency support for Internet users who are under threat for peacefully exercising their universal rights through new technologies. The United States is proud to be one of several Coalition countries that together have dedicated more than 2.5 million Euros to this initiative. The U.S. contribution to this initiative builds on the State Department’s and USAID’s investment of more than $100 million in Internet freedom programming since 2008. For more information, please see: http://www.hivos.nl/eng/News/News/Digital-Defenders-Partnership.
Remarks by Secretary Clinton at the Coalition’s launch, December 2011