South Africa has joined countries like China and Russia to say no to UN’s provision for internet freedom.
Having carefully examined the intricacies of the new policy on the nation’s unity, south Africa joined few other countries to stand against the provisions from the United Nations resolutions that would prevent countries from switching off the Internet for any reason.
A resolution entitled The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet expands to a large extent, the human right for freedom of speech even via the internet.
The resolution was adopted when more than 70 states supported it on 1 July. Other countries including China and Russia determined to pull out key parts of the text.
Freedom of expression organisation Article 19 expressed disappointment with South Africa after the country’s decision to pull out.
Some countries expressed shock at South Africa and twelve others’ effort to delete the text on ensuring access to the internet.
According to Thomas Hughes, the executive director of Article 19, a charity focused on protecting freedom of expression, the resolution is a much-needed response to increased pressure on freedom of expression online in all parts of the world.
“it’s disappointing that democracies like South Africa, Indonesia, and India voted in favour of these hostile amendments to weaken protections for freedom of expression online,” said Thomas Hughes,
Facts about the Internet Freedom
States are bound to refrain from “measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online”.
This includes measures to shut down the Internet or part of the Internet when in dare situations like during an election or in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
Among the key points in the resolutions are:
- That people have the same rights online as offline, “in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice.”
- That human rights violations enacted against people due to making their views known online are “condemned unequivocally,” and states are held accountable for any such violations.
- Any measures to “intentionally prevent or disrupt access” to the internet are also “condemned unequivocally,” and all states should “refrain from and cease such measures.
By pulling out its support for internet freedom, this will in effect mean that government would continue shutting down the internet against the policy of the UN.