OPENING SESSION - Free and Secure Internet for All

Opening Session - Free and Secure Internet for All

At the opening session, leaders from different regions of the world introduced their points of views on the topic of Free and Secure Internet for all and on the role of the Coalition:

  • Estonian FM Urmas Paet recalled that it is the task of the Coalition to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms online, in particular the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, access to information and the right to privacy. He stressed the importance of the multi-stakeholder nature of the Internet now and in the future. Minister Paet also concluded his perspective on the events in Ukraine and spoke on how the Internet has been used for propaganda in Russia.
  • The President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves delivered his keynote address discussing the dilemmas of how liberal-democracies can and should safeguard the Internet. He stressed the importance of the FOC Recommendations (the Tallinn Agenda) and the universal values they present. The Internet should remain as one and not become ‘Westphalianized’.
  • Georgian president Giorgi Margvelashvili talked about the ‘personal space’ in Georgia being attacked both in virtual and physical worlds in 2008. He stressed the need to find new ways to protect our common space online.
  • Speaker of the Senate of Kenya, David Ekwee Ethuro spoke of his country's strategic position in the African continent and the growing role of IT in taking advantage of that position. Chinese investments have been key to achieving success.
  • The Dutch FM Frans Timmermans presented two main points: 1. restoration of credibility after the Snowden revelations; and 2. the power of information (if accessible) to break through the walls of dictatorships. He introduced the Coalition’s new web-page. He also reaffirmed NATO’s commitment vis-à-vis Estonia.
  • Canada’s FM John Baird spoke strongly on Russian aggression saying that ‘little green men’ also have their equivalents online. He pointed to the Internet as a ‘double-edged sword’ that can be used to realize freedoms, but also to silence criticism and stalk citizens.
  • In a video message UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said undermining freedom is undermining stability.  Surveillance should never be done on a mass scale and exceptions to freedoms should be narrow and specifically tailored.