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Internet Rights & Principles Coalition: Internet Rights Bill

23 April 2014

Statement by Internet Rights & Principles Coalition on the launch of the NZ Green Party’s Internet Rights and Freedom Bill

The Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRP Coalition) of the UN Internet Governance Forum applaud the release of the NZ Green Party’s Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill for public consultation. The IRF Bill is a pioneering project for the internet in New Zealand to ensure that the protection and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms online are tangible and enforceable by law.

At this time the world has witnessed how human rights can be undermined in the online environment as well as on the ground. Recent events, the Snowden revelations in particular, underscore the need to embed laws and remedies in rights-based principles for internet policy making at the national and international level. The NZ Green Party has shown courage and foresight in putting the Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill forward at this time, showing leadership and cross-party commitment in their undertaking to make the legally authoritative Bill available for public consultation.

This follows in the footsteps of the spirit of multi-stakeholder participation that the UN Internet Governance Forum has forged. It is also inspiring for the IRP Coalition, and all those involved in the Charter of Human Rights and Principles process (IRPC Charter) since its inception in 2008, to see New Zealand be the first country to pick up the mantle from Brazil’s pioneering Marco Civil, to bring human rights and principles for the internet into the heart of democratic political processes.

The launch of the IRF Bill for the New Zealand context also underscores ongoing efforts by the international community to frame the future of the internet within international human rights law and norms. Wth this Bill the NZ Greens are taking up this challenge to put rights-based principles for the internet, now on the agenda of the 2014 Internet Governance Forum and the Net Mundial Meeting in Brazil which is drawing to a conclusion today, into practice.

We are particularly impressed with some of the innovative elements of the Bill; e.g. proposals for an Internet Rights Commissioner and Chief Technology Officer who can ensure that the rights and responsibilities outlined in this Bill also include remedies, the emphasis on environmentally sustainable internet development, the accessibility for all provisions, and the recognition of public service commitments to an affordable, equitable, and multiculturally accessible internet future for all New Zealanders.

We would like to note our appreciation for the recognition that the NZ Green Party has given to the IRPC Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet in its role as the formative framework for the IRF Bill. This launch today sees the NZ Green Party join forces with other intergovernmental and civil society organizations who have been engaging the IRPC Charter over the last few years; e.g. the Council of Europe’s Guide to Human Rights for Internet Users and Hivos International’s Click Rights education and awareness-raising campaign in the Middle East and North African region.

We also acknowledge the invaluable role that Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, and the UN Human Rights Council have played in this shift from aspiration to human rights-based legislation by recognizing that power holders in the online environment also have legal obligations to “exercise their power responsibly, refrain from violating human rights respect, protect, and fulfill them to the fullest extent possible” (IRPC Charter, Clause 20; IRPC Charter Booklet, 2013, page 26).

As this Bill begins its journey from draft legislation and into the NZ lawbooks after a full and inclusive period of public consultation the IRP Coalition is committed to supporting this initiative by providing advice and support, as well as feedback on the text during this period of public consultation. The IRP Coalition Steering Committee looks forward to releasing the IRF Bill to the wider coalition at this launch so that the IRPC can provide a range of feedback into the process.

To view or participate in the public consultation on the Bill, go to www.internetrightsbill.org.nz


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