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Joint Statement by the Freedom Online Coalition
Statement by Ambassador Michèle Taylor at the 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council
March 17, 2023

The United States Joined the Following Joint Statement at the 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council

Joint Statement by the Freedom Online Coalition

As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor

General Debate Under Item 3

March 17, 2023

Thank you, Mister President.

The United States, on behalf of the Freedom Online Coalition, reiterates the FOC’s commitment to promoting and protecting Internet freedom. At its very foundation in December 2011 – six months after the adoption of the United Nations Guiding Principles – the Freedom Online Coalition recognized the role of states in protecting the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet and through connection technologies. This remains as relevant today, as it was then.

The Internet and digital technologies can enable individuals to exercise their human rights more fully. This includes the freedom to hold and express opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and privacy rights online, as expressed in applicable resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Council, including “Right to privacy in the digital age, ” and “The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.” The Internet and digital technologies are also a vital component of social and economic advancement. However, a persistent lack of digital inclusion and access prevents people from realizing the full potential and benefits provided by the Internet and creates digital divides.

Furthermore, a growing number of governments around the world have been acquiring, developing, and deploying a suite of tools to censor, arbitrarily and unlawfully surveil, and violate the rights of individuals online and offline, within their borders and beyond. Such actions include enforcing strict control over cross-border information flows, imposing Internet shutdowns, conducting and sponsoring disinformation campaigns, and deploying malicious cyber activity.

The Freedom Online Coalition remains steadfast in addressing these challenges and is committed to finding ways, in partnership with the multistakeholder community, to enhance the global response in addressing these issues.

Given these threats and opportunities, the Coalition’s priorities this year include: promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including through countering network disruptions; countering and building resilience to the rise of digital authoritarianism and the misuse of technologies, to include surveillance technologies; advancing norms, principles, and safeguards for artificial intelligence based on human rights; and strengthening digital inclusion and supporting ongoing initiatives to promote safe and equitable online spaces for everyone, elevating traditionally excluded voices, such as youth, women and girls, as well as persons or groups in a vulnerable situation, such as, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTI persons, racial and ethnic minorities, persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, persons with disabilities, and older persons.

We look forward to working with the Council on these priorities to promote and protect human rights online, and we underscore our collective vision of democracy in the digital age.

Thank you.