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Intervention by Estonia at the UN Human Rights Council 35th Session under Item 3 dialogue on the right to freedom of expression

12.06.2017

UN Human Rights Council 35th Session

 

Intervention by ESTONIA

 

Item 3 – Individual ID with Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression

 

Geneva, 12 June 2017

 

Mr President,

Estonia aligns itself with the EU statement.

We wish to thank Mr David Kaye for his report.

Estonia deems the subject matter presented today by the Special Rapporteur to be timely with every country in mind. Last week, Estonia was honoured to host the 10th anniversary of the European Dialogue on Internet Governance – the EuroDIG event in Tallinn. In various panel discussions issues related to the role of private actors engaging in the provision of Internet and telecommunications access were raised by all stakeholder groups.

Estonia acknowledges that while governments have the primary responsibility to guarantee the protection of human rights, including the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression online, the private sector also needs to comply with the expectations and obligations of the society in the digital age. The role of businesses is highly significant to ensure security in the virtual world. Private companies are the main actors providing online services to people in their daily life, for example e-banking, online shopping, etc. In this respect, we find the recommendations drawn by the special rapporteur very useful.

Furthermore, regarding internet restrictions, we agree with the Special Rapporteur that restrictions on the freedom of expression cannot be invoked to justify the suppression of advocacy for democratic rights, including internet shutdowns during demonstrations, elections and other events of extraordinary public interest, where little or no explanation is provided.

As one of the founding members of the Freedom Online Coalition, Estonia is also concerned about the threats and intimidation of companies and their employees by the governments of non-democratic countries where they are located. We fully agree with the Special Rapporteur that companies might need protection, too, and that state actions need to be lawful and proportionate.

Estonia would like to ask the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on good practices of collaboration between states and the private industry in finding ways to increase the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms online.

Mr Special Rapporteur, we highly value and closely follow your work up until now, and we wish you every success in your endeavours.

Thank you.

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