Franskt nej till avstängning, och dagens tal

I dag fick jag äntligen hålla mitt tal på årets IPU-konferens, ett möte för världens parlamentariker som i år äger rum i Etiopien.

Som jag skrev i mitt förra inlägg funderade jag på att nämna Frankrikes förslag om att stänga av fildelare. Nu tycks dock förslaget ha fallit, så det var nog lika bra att jag lät bli.

Det här är vad jag hann säga på mina två minuter:

One of the most fundamental democratic rights these day is free speech on the internet. A debate, where everyone is free to express ideas and to challenge the ideas of others,
such debate exposes weaknesses in policies and enables us to improve.

Free speech legislation is a necessary condition for free speech, but it’s not a sufficient condition. To be able to freely give your opinion, or to expose a fact to the public, you need the tools to communicate. Traditionally, books and newspapers have been such tools.

Today, the most powerful tool is the internet, an electronic web that allows anybody to publish a text, a picture, a sound recording or a video that can be seen by anyone in the world who has an interest in that information.

It is crucial to preserve the open structure of the internet so it can remain a channel for free communication also in the future. However, an increasing number of countries are engaging in internet censorship and other actions that compromise free speech in the digital age.

The most obvious threat to digital free speech is that certain governments’ are quick to respond to terrorism, organized crime and other problems with restrictions on free speech, even in Europe. It’s not unusual that government intervention create harm that’s more severe than the harm that the government tries to protect us against.

An increasing threat to digital free speech are the ever-expanding copyright laws. To protect copyright law, governments are now discussing how to restrict the liberties of internet users. One specific restriction that copyright lobbyists push for is mandatory internet filtering, that blocks web sites. Another is and cutting off the internet connections of suspected file sharers, making them unable to blog or to read news on the web. These are modern equivalents of banning books and newspapers – something that a democracy never ought to even consider.