Stockholm Internet Forum Promotes Freedom and Openness

Created: 2013-05-23 20:51 EST

Category: China

This week the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is hosting the Stockholm Internet Forum. Participants are discussing how to foster freedom and openness on the Internet to promote economic and social development in the world.

[Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister]
”It’s been a year and we've got far greater support for issues of Internet freedom where I think there's an increased recognition of net freedom and global development issues.”

In June 2012 the UN Human Rights Council confirmed a resolution that human rights also applies to the Internet “The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online in particular freedom of expression...”

The resolution is backed by 72 countries, including China.

[Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister]
”I think a public debate. What we did at UN Council was important as a matter of fact by the end of the day it was supported by the Chinese government as well so it is up to the government of China to live up to that as well.”

The Chinese regime has about 40,000 Internet police to keep the country under its control. To counter that censorship, the Global Internet Freedom Consortium was set up overseas to help Chinese people to break through the great firewall.

Bill Xia from Global Internet Freedom Consortium says there are two ways the Chinese regime blocks information on the Internet. For security reasons, Bill Xia asked not to be shown.

[Bill Xia, Global Internet Freedom Consortium]
”One is to block websites outside China. So last time what happen is when people try to visit certain websites or when they try to search something on the internet and then they open a webpage then they found that the webpage is not accessible. That’s one side of it. The other is that China tries to control the ISP Internet service provider inside China for any service inside China the content will be censored.”

The Global Internet Freedom Consortium developed software that help Chinese people access any webpage’s they want, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

People in Iran, Burma and Vietnam have also used their software, such as FreeGate, to break through Internet censorship.

[Johan Hallenborg, Deputy Director, Department for International Law, Human Rights and Treaty law]
”Many states unfortunately they tilt against the security side when they develop their Internets and infrastructure. But we need to engage them in this conversion that security is not the answer. The reason we have security on the Internet is to protect freedom, that’s the reason for security.”

In a new campaign, Chinese Internet Police have been shutting down popular Weibo accounts, the Chinese micro-blogging site one after another.  The Police do it in the name of "combating rumors."

NTD News, Stockholm Sweden