On 28-30th November the 7th Annual Freedom Online Conference took place in Berlin, Germany. This international event gathered 350 participants from 90 countries and had just under 60 governments in attendance, from all regions of the world and all levels of development. The Conference met under the theme ‘Internet Freedom at a Crossroads – Common Paths towards Strengthening Human Rights Online’.
The Conference program built on FOC priorities identified in the Program of Action for 2018, including state-sponsored restrictions to human rights online, efforts to support civil society voices online and bridge the digital divides, and discussions around promotion and protection of human rights in the context of cybersecurity.
On 17-18 October the 6th Annual Freedom Online Conference took place in San José, Costa Rica. This international event gathered more than 200 participants from 48 countries, from all regions of the world and all levels of development. The Conference met under the theme ‘Enhancing an open, active and constructive online community for the enjoyment of an effective citizenship online’. The Conference centred on contributing to the ongoing multi-stakeholder exchange on how to address the challenges, opportunities and potential of free, open and accessible online channels and platforms for political, social and economic development.
The fifth annual Freedom Online (FO) Conference was held in Ulaanbaatar from 4-5 May 2015 under the Chairmanship of the Government of Mongolia. More than 240 participants representing over 60 countries attended from government, civil society and business sectors. Participants met to discuss current threats to freedom online and opportunities to strengthen the protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights. The overarching theme for the Conference was ‘Internet Policy Making – Best Practices for Promoting Online Freedom’.
In April 2014, Estonia hosted the fourth annual Freedom Online Coalition conference. More than 400 delegates from over 60 countries gathered at the event in the Estonian capital of Tallinn with representatives from government, business and civil society. Under the title ‘Free and Secure Internet for All’, the main focus across 19 plenary and panel discussions was how to protect and strengthen freedom online in the face of new challenges and the complex and hotly debated subject of Internet governance.
In 2013, the annual conference of the Freedom Online Coalition was held in an Arab country for the first time. Tunisia’s hosting of the event demonstrated its commitment to give a positive and constructive answer to some of the demands of the people of Tunisia, who occupied the streets of the country in the uprising that began in January 2011. To emphasize this spirit, the conference was titled “Joint Action for Free Expression on the Internet”, and it focused on the themes “Towards an Internet that is free and secure”, “Digital development and openness”, and “Supporting privacy and transparency online”. It attracted over 500 participants and provided a multi-stakeholder platform to discuss issues of Internet freedom with a particular regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa.
The second Online Freedom Coalition Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2012 and marked a fundamental step in bringing access onto the Coalition’s agenda. At the time many African nations were either just starting to develop interest in policy making for ICT and Internet governance, and putting in place standards of freedom of expression online. As a founding member of the Freedom Online Coalition and an African leader in the field of ICT, the conference gave Kenya the opportunity to offer leadership in Africa on related policy debates and discuss the role of an open and free Internet not only as a prerequisite for respecting human rights, but also as a provider of tremendous opportunity for development and economic growth. The conference was attended by 450 participants of 42 nationalities, 19 of which represented African countries.
The first Freedom Online conference was held in 2011 and hosted by the Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal in The Hague. Together with participants from governments, international organisations, private sector and civil society from around the world, the conference discussed proactive steps states could take together to stand up for Internet freedom.
Guided by the principle that human rights have the same protection online as offline, the conference aimed to foster a global conversation based on shared principles to preserve an Internet that is open and free while also interoperable, secure, and reliable. Based on their shared commitment to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms online, 15 countries established the Freedom Online Coalition by jointly endorsing the outcome declaration “Freedom Online: Joint Action for Free Expression on the Internet”.