"Values of Democracy and Human Rights in an
By Angela Garabagiu, Secretary to the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France
European citizens have the right to benefit from the information society. The states must be committed to build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented information society that fully respects and upholds the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, on which European societies are built. Both public and private actors should bear this in mind when designing their operations and activities, including the development of new technologies, services and applications. International organisations, including the UN and the Council of Europe, have taken steps to ensure the protection – on and through Internet -- of all fundamental rights and freedoms and to affirm their universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation in accordance with international human rights law.
The Council of Europe responds to issues that affect now 800 million people Europeans by working with and influencing member states’ policies and legal frameworks. These responses are set out in conventions which include the Cybercrime Convention and the Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. The Council of Europe develops, in addition, other standard-setting documents, such as the Human rights guidelines for Internet service providers developed in co-operation with the European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA). Since 2007, the Council of Europe is an active partner in the organization and running of the UN-led Internet Governance Forum and the annual European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG).
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was at the origin of a great number of European conventions. The Assembly addresses key emerging issues in European societies – the development of Internet is high on its agenda. The latest Assembly recommendations in this area refer to “The protection of freedom of expression and information on the Internet and online media”, to “The digital divide and education”, and to “The promotion of Internet and online media services appropriate for minors”.
Internet has brought about a paradigm shift in communication. Internet has also influenced the way “politics” is conducted by all players: citizens, political parties, the public authorities and government bodies. In other words, the Internet is also changing the way people participate in democratic processes and political life. As far as citizen participation in the electoral process is concerned, new relationships between voters and political parties are emerging because of the web and on the web (for instance, the selection of candidates and debates on manifestoes). The Council of Europe developed specific standard setting instruments in the field of e-democracy and e-voting that will be brought to the attention of the participants in the IADIS conference.