A blog on why norms matter online

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I'm a Post-Doc Fellow at the Cluster of Excellence "Normative Orders" of the University of Frankfurt and lecturer at the Institute of International Law of the University of Graz, Austria. I've studied international law in Graz, Geneva and at Harvard Law School. I enjoy thinking and writing about Internet Governance and discussing and shaping the future of the Internet

Friday, November 25, 2011

We're not dummies ... and we don't play in a sandbox

For the last two days, an interesting conference took place in Vienna: "Our Internet - Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Towards the Council of Europe Strategy on Internet Governance, 2012-2015" organised by the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria and the Council of Europe.

During the discussion of an interesting panel on how best to protect human rights online (through a new charter? a compendium of rights?), I made a brief intervention: 

"I don’t like the image of the Internet as a  sandbox [that a panelist proposed] because it implies that what we do there doesn’t actually matter. 
It does.
The Internet is the new public space of the 21st century and we do play – but we work, vote, think, write, publish, organize, too.
We don’t need a “human rights for dummies” guide to the Internet? We’re not dummies. We’re able, intelligent, interactive human beings. Human beings whose human rights and human security has to be ensured online.
And because of that we need to create normative added value.
I’d echo Wolfgang Benedek and Dixie Hawtin [two of the panelists]: we don’t need a compendium – a compilation of a body of knowledge. We need more than that.
The Internet Rights and Principles Coalition’s Charter and the Council of Europe’s Internet Governance Principles together would form a strong normative basis to build upon and to operationalize.
Because this is what we’re charged with now. 2011 was the “year of principles”, of thinking. 2012 must be the “year of practice”, of setting standards, of doing.
And if you like sand and sunny imagery quite so much, think of the Internet as a beach volleyball court. A fun place, but with interactions based on rules." 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two kinds of access

A quick thought a couple of weeks after Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Frank La Rue, presented his important report on (inter alia) the online dimension of freedom of expression to the General Assembly's Third Committee. 


In his oral statement, Mr. La Rue highlighted the two dimensions of access: access to Internet and access to online content. Both pose specific, but interrelated human rights challenges. Using the  Internet as a facilitator for other human rights presupposes access to the Internet in the first place (connectivity) and then unfiltered access to content. 


The importance of access - and access to information cannot be underestimated: 


As Mr. La Rue wrote in his report: 
"[By enabling individuals to exchange information and ideas instantaneously and inexpensively across national borders, the Internet allows access to information and knowledge that was previously unattainable. This, in turn, contributes to the discovery of the truth and progress of society as a whole." 
I agree. The discovery of truth and progress is a social act. Though we can never predict what "truth and progress" will be discovered in any given society, as both truth and progress are always contingent upon the constructions of reality and their perceptions in each society at a given time, we should support the process.


This does not mean that we should reroute development funding completely to the Internet. Even bloggers need to eat. But an important part of development aid must go ensuring the physical infrastructure to gain access. 


In a second step the international community needs to highlight the differences between illegal content and content that is harmful, offensive, objectionable, or undesirable. Illegal content should be dealt with by the authorities thus enforcing the informal social contract between users. But ideas that only, the words of the European Court of Human Rights in Handyside v. UK, "shock, offend and disturb" a society or parts of it, need protection. 



To quote Mr. La Rue again: 
"[The] Internet is one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies. Indeed, the recent wave of demonstrations in countries across the Middle East and North African region has shown the key role that the Internet can play in mobilizing the population to call for justice, equality, accountability and better respect for human rights. As such, facilitating access to the Internet for all individuals, with as little restriction to online content as possible, should be a priority for all States."

Friday, November 11, 2011

5th Graz Workshop on the Future of Security: Human Security in the Information Society

I'm co-organizing an exciting workshop, the 5th Graz Workshop on the Future of Security, which will be dedicated to the interlinkages between two topics I've been doing much research on: human security and information society. 


Have a look at the Call or read on:
 



Call for Papers

5th Graz Workshop on the Future of Security

Human Security in the Information Society: Regulating Risks – Empowering People

15-16 March 2012 | University of Graz, Austria

The Institute of International Law and International Relations of the University of Graz, Austria, the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (ETC), Graz, and their Human Security Focus Group, in cooperation with the Austrian National Defence Academy, the Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP) and the Marie Curie Action “Sustainable Peace Building” funded under the EU’s 7th Framework Programme, invite contributions to the 5th Graz Workshop on the Future of Security on 15-16 March 2012, dedicated to Human Security in the Information Society: Regulating Risks – Empowering People.

The fifth workshop in a series of academic events dedicated to furthering our understanding of today’s and tomorrow’s security challenges unites two of our central areas of research: human security and Internet Governance.

The interdisciplinary workshop is dedicated to furthering our understanding of the security challenges of regulating (and not regulating) new and emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs).

We welcome abstracts tackling any aspect of the general topic, but are particularly interested in presentations focusing on

  •    the specific challenges of protecting human security and human rights in the information society; in particular the roles of the rights to access and to education (e-literacy) and of freedom of expression;
  •    the role of non-state (and other non-traditional) actors in regulatory processes, especially the principle of multistakeholderism and its relation to furthering security;
  •       the importance of non-traditional norms (principles, codes of conduct, soft law) and non-traditional normative processes (international forums, conferences, online meetings) for ensuring human security;
  •       the impact of social media and ICT on conflict (management) and peace(building);
  •     the use of ICTs by states (“federal trojans”), armed forces (cyberwarfare), non-state groups (cyber-terrorism, cybercrime) and civil society (social media) and the ensuing human security challenges;
  •     and the role of human security in influencing the development of Internet Governance.


All presentations are selected on the basis of academic merit. Abstracts of no more than 300 words describing your presentation should be sent together with a short bio no later than 16 December 2011 to HumanSecurity@uni-graz.at.

For more information, see http://goo.gl/ptyv3. Selected excellent contributions will be published in a special edition of the peer-reviewed internationally renowned journal Human Security Perspectives.

Organizing Committee: 
Wolfgang Benedek | Paul Gragl | Matthias C. Kettemann | Heike Montag | Cristina Pace | Pascoal Santos Pereira


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Discussing the challenges of the future of the Internet

A student from the "Imagining the Internet" project of Elon University interviewed me in Nairobi back at the IGF 2012. They have now uploaded eight of my replies on their YouTube channel.


IGF11 Matthias Kettemann discusses challenges to the future of the Internet

Matthias Ketteman, international law researcher from the University of Graz, Austria, responds to the question "What is your greatest fear or what ...
von ImaginingtheInternet  vor 1 Woche  2 Aufrufe

IGF11 Matthias Kettemann talks about ethics, responsibility and the Internet

Matthias Kettemann, international law researcher from the University of Graz, Austria, "What responsibilities do technology innovators and ...
von ImaginingtheInternet  vor 1 Woche  1 Aufrufe

IGF11 Matthias Kettemann on the future of the Internet Governance Forum

Matthias Ketteman, international law researcher from the University of Graz, Austria, responds to the question "Will the Internet Governance Forum ...
von ImaginingtheInternet  vor 1 Woche  1 Aufrufe

IGF11 Matthias Kettemann talks about Internet gateways, apps, social networks

Matthias Ketteman, international law researcher from the University of Graz, Austria, responds to the question "In 2015 will most people generally ...
von ImaginingtheInternet  vor 1 Woche  1 Aufrufe

IGF11 Matthias Kettemann talks about our hyperconnected future

Matthias Ketteman, international law researcher from the University of Graz, Austria, responds to the question "With mobile connectivity many of ...
von ImaginingtheInternet  vor 1 Woche  0 Aufrufe

IGF11 Matthias Kettemann shares his hope for the future of the Internet

Matthias Ketteman, international law researcher from the University of Graz, Austria, responds to the question "What is your greatest hope for the ...
von ImaginingtheInternet  vor 1 Woche  0 Aufrufe

IGF11 Matthias Kettemann describes the future of the Internet in 10 seconds

Matthias Ketteman, international law researcher from the University of Graz, Austria, responds to the question "Describe the future of the ...
von ImaginingtheInternet  vor 1 Woche  2 Aufrufe