GLOBAL INTERNET LIBERTY
February 6, 2002
Dear Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer:
We are non-governmental organizations from Council of Europe member and observer nations who share a common desire to protect human rights on the global Internet. Many of the undersigned organizations had previously sent you two letters as members of Global Internet Liberty Campaign (dated Oct. 18 and Dec. 12, 2000) that raised a number of concerns regarding the Convention on Cybercrime.
We understand that a discussion draft protocol on Racism and Xenophobia (to be considered in connection with the Council of Europe cybercrime treaty) has either been completed or is nearing that final stage. This protocol apparently will require the criminalization of certain forms of Internet speech that some might find offensive, and an additional provision related to "abusive hosting".
We are writing to ask for the public release of this discussion draft as soon as it is completed. If this document has, in fact, already been completed, we ask that you release it immediately. The protocol is likely to raise critical questions regarding freedom of expression and human rights. Given the potentially serious ramifications of the protocol, we believe its text must be disclosed to allow vigorous and wide-ranging debate over its merits. While the signatories to this letter may differ on the specific provisions of the protocol once we learn its contents, we are of the unanimous view that its development should conform with principles of transparency and democratic decision-making.
For these reasons, we urge you to release the discussion draft to the general public if it is finished, or to release the document as soon as it is completed.
Bits of Freedom (NL)
Chaos Computer Club (DE)
Digital Rights (DK)
Equipo Nizkor (ES)
Human Rights Network (RU)
Online Policy Group (US)
Privacy Ukraine (UA)