The Special Rapporteur and his team are excited to announce the next phase of our project on freedom of expression in the ICT sector. Our questionnaires for States and businesses, and our call for submissions from civil society and other stakeholders, are now live.
Over the next few months, we will be studying trends in restrictions on the provision of telecommunications and Internet access, and their impact on freedom of expression. Our study will focus not only on restrictions States impose on Telecommunications and Internet Service Providers and associated businesses, but also company responses to these restrictions, and corporate policies and practices that materially affect how we communicate and exchange information in the digital age. Our findings and recommendations will be published in the Special Rapporteur’s report to the Human Rights Council in June 2017.
Our focus on the nuts and bolts of modern telecommunications and Internet infrastructure comes at a time where digital expression is at a critical crossroads. Reports of shutdowns of Internet platforms and even entire networks around the world have become troublingly routine. Many States have also established sweeping powers to conduct censorship and surveillance, often with few meaningful safeguards. And private policies that prioritize some data over others could have a profound impact on how we seek, receive and impart information.
With these questionnaires and the call for submissions, we hope to collect information on trends in restrictions on telecommunications and Internet access, and the ways in which such restrictions may be mitigated or prevented. We not only seek information and perspectives from governments, but also from industry, civil society, technologists, relevant international organizations and standard-setting bodies, and academics. As with our last call for submissions, existing work product such as articles, working papers, studies, websites and so forth are welcome. We look forward to hearing from you!