Guest Blogs

Galina Arapova

Freedom of expression: development, trial, protection | Galina Arapova
In recent years we have seen a rapid change in media environment, we were lucky to witness an unprecedented technological and informational progress.. Read full article
Guest Blogs

Johan Hallenborg

Freedom of expression set to turbo mode | Johan Hallenborg
Swedes are a pretty tech savvy bunch. We like cool, new, shiny gadgets, too. And we start early: last year, half of all three-year-olds in Sweden were on the net... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Begaim Usenova

Kyrgyzstan’s Media Law | Begaim Usenova
In 2010, defamation was decriminalized in Kyrgyzstan. This step was perceived in the world as political will of the country’s leadership to ensure the citizens’ right for freedom of expression and opinion.. Read full article
Guest Blogs

William Horsley

Media freedom requires that the state must stay out of the ring  | William Horsley
Once, it seemed that things could only get better. But then somehow they got worse again. That is my shorthand summary of the path of media freedom in the past 15 years. Read full article
Guest Blogs

Timothy Karr

The Internet’s Growing Pains | Timothy Karr
At 15, the OSCE’s office for media freedom is now half the age of the modern Internet. In 1983, engineers of what was then known as the ARPANET switched over to a communications ... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Marietje Schaake

Saving the open Internet requires protecting the rights of its users | Marietje Schaake
Technological developments and the open Internet have led to revolutionary changes and the potential of emancipating individuals, bottom up... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Alison Bethel McKenzie

A great threat to media freedom | Alison Bethel McKenzie
The International Press Institute (IPI), the world’s oldest global media freedom organization, is pleased to mark 15 years since the establishment of the Office ... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Christian Möller

“From Quill to Cursor”* and 140 Characters | Christian Möller
When I first joined the Office of the OSCE Media Freedom Representative in the summer of 2002, a colleague of mine – a senior U.S. diplomat – asked whether I knew “how to google” ... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Leonid Kozhara

A unique institution promoting media freedom | Leonid Kozhara
I would like to express my congratulations on the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media ... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Dr. Agnes Callamard

The keys to improve the media freedom situation in the OSCE region and beyond the next 15 years | Dr. Agnes Callamard
The information technology revolution of the last two decades has profoundly transformed print and broadcast media, journalism, the production of news... Read full article

15 Years of the Representative on Freedom of the Media

Free expression and free media are basic human rights. The Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media was established in December 1997 to protect them.

Dunja Mijatovic

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and promotes full compliance with OSCE press freedom commitments.

Freedom of expression set to turbo mode

By Johan Hallenborg, Deputy Director and Senior Internet Policy Advisor, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Swedes are a pretty tech savvy bunch. We like cool, new, shiny gadgets, too. And we start early: last year, half of all three-year-olds in Sweden were on the net. This year, it is estimated that the same goes for two-year-olds. Amazing.

So, we are raising our kids in a hyper-connected environment in which they play, listen to music, do their homework, connect with friends around the globe, share their photos, and more generally, just hang out with friends. Just like we did when I grew up in the seventies and eighties. Hang out. For no particular reason.
In one way, there are light-years between my childhood and my kids’. But on the other hand, not much has changed. We are still interested in music and films, in reading magazines, sharing gossip and so on. Our daily life still rests on one extremely important assumption: that we are free to communicate with other humans. And that we are able to do it freely.

To cherish our freedom of expression is something Swedes have been doing for quite some time – the constitutional protection of free expression dates back to 1766 – and the Internet has sent freedom of expression into a kind of turbo mode, where anyone can share anything with everyone.

The good news is that in many places freedom of expression actually works on the Internet too. The general rule-of-the-thumb that “human rights apply online as well as offline” has even been confirmed by the UN Human Rights Council in a landmark resolution in 2012, put forward by Sweden and adopted by consensus by the Council.

The bad news is that more and more people find their freedom on the Internet being more and more limited. Governments are getting better at censoring “undesirable” content, they are improving their tracing and surveillance methods and they harass, jail and even kill people who dare to use their freedom of expression on the Internet.

Our work at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in past years has attempted to break down some of the walls that prevent people from fully utilising the fantastic opportunities the Internet brings. One such wall is security. Some say that security on the Internet must be balanced against openness and human rights. We say that it is true that security is crucial, but that security may never be used as an excuse to violate human rights. Security is not about striking a balance. Security is about securing freedom and open societies.

It’s going to become more and more important to deepen the dialogue on freedom and security with other stakeholders. Here, the OSCE Representative of the Media is a very important partner. We applaud the important work Ms Mijatovic is doing in promoting Internet freedom in the OSCE region, a region where freedom on the Internet in many places is under threat. Her strong voice and relentless efforts to defend human rights online is needed more than ever.