Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression David Kaye

U.S. Statement delivered by Michele Roulbet
Human Rights Council, 35th Session

Geneva, June 12, 2017

  • As prepared for delivery

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

The United States appreciates Special Rapporteur Kaye’s continued work on freedom of opinion and expression. We note the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Turkey.  We are concerned by the crackdown on dissent, free expression, and independent media during the ongoing state of emergency, including through blocked websites and censorship of internet-based media.  We continue to urge authorities to respect the freedom of expression of all people in Turkey and note the detentions of individuals such as Taner Kilic, Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, chill public debate and undermine the quality of democracy.

Mr. Kaye, we are also studying your recent report on Internet freedom and share your concern regarding state-sponsored disruptions designed to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to, or dissemination of, information.

We have concerns about several issues in the report, including the characterization of U.S. law and practice in certain instances.  We would welcome the opportunity to review these concerns with you in more detail.

We would like to note:

  • The United States has consistently taken appropriate steps – and encouraged other States to do so – to prevent and counter the use of the Internet for criminal and terrorist purposes, while respecting fundamental freedoms, the free flow of information, and a free and open Internet. The United States has robust traditions and protections for these freedoms, including in its Constitution and judicial requirements.
  • We are concerned about the report’s widespread use of a “necessary and proportionate standard,” which is not grounded in the international law framework in the ICCPR.
  • The report’s discussion of net neutrality and zero rating does not acknowledge that the principles of a free and open Internet can be upheld through diverse approaches toward domestic law and regulations.
  • There have also been significant U.S. government efforts to declassify information concerning intelligence collection and otherwise increase transparency concerning national security issues since 2013, which are not mentioned in the report.
  • Finally, the United States does not view the Internet or access to the Internet as a public good.  The same rights people have offline must be protected online, but this does not mean there is a human right to the Internet.

Question:  Do you envisage doing further work on this topic?  If so, what will be your focus?

Thank you.