On November 4, 2015, the Philippine Declaration on Internet Rights and Principles was launched after several months of collective drafting and consultations with civil society internet rights groups and the ICT policy community.
The initiative for the creation of the Declaration was launched during the Philippine Multi-stakeholder Forum on Internet Governance, Human Rights and Development organized by FMA on March 23, 2015. It was inspired by many similar initiatives of a global or national scope (e.g., Brazil). A drafting team, comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds, developed the content of the declaration.
FMA also conducted broad consultations in Metro Manila, Davao City, and Cebu City from August to October 2015 to solicit inputs on the initial draft. The draft declaration was also made available online for inputs and suggestions of those who could not join the face-to-face consultations.
The Declaration focused on ten areas:
- Internet access for all
- Democratizing the architecture of the internet
- Freedom of expression and association
- Right to privacy and protection of personal data
- Gender equality
- Openness and access to information, knowledge and culture
- Socio-economic empowerment and innovation
- Education and digital literacy
- Liberty, safety and security on the Internet
- Internet and ICTs for environmental sustainability.
The Declaration is a reflection of the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of Filipinos of what the Philippine Internet should be. It hopes to serve as a basis for public education, advocacy, networking and campaigns on ICT, human rights, and development.
As of end-2015, 23 organizations have signed the declaration with many more organizations expressing interest.
The Philippine Declaration on Internet Rights and Principles
Recalling that the Philippines is a sovereign democratic state in Southeast Asia, an archipelago that has a diverse population of various cultures that speaks different languages and dialects and professes different beliefs and ideologies;
Recognizing the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and that the State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development and should value the dignity of each and every human person;
Recognizing that the Internet plays an important role in the lives of the peoples of the Philippines, affecting their social, political, cultural, and economic development;
Recognizing that the Internet is a global commons and a public resource that should further the public interest;
Asserting that governance of the Internet should be inclusive, democratic, and rights-based, and should encourage the widest possible participation, particularly from marginalized and vulnerable sectors;
Noting that while the Internet has provided a platform for the promotion of human rights and increased democratization in the country, it has nevertheless also been misused and abused at times, and that such misuse or abuse results in a widening of the social divide or increased oppression;
Affirming that all human rights that apply or are enjoyed offline, particularly those enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), should likewise also apply and be protected online;
Emphasizing the responsibility of the State to always respect, protect and fulfill human rights, as also the responsibility of the private sector including Internet intermediaries to respect the human rights of their users consistent with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
- Internet Access for All
Everyone has the right to affordable and quality access to the Internet. The State must narrow the digital divide in order to provide quality universal access and ensure an enabling environment for fair competition that will benefit all stakeholders and promote consumer protection. Consistent with the distributed nature of the Internet, community-owned and driven information infrastructure and networks should also be promoted as alternatives or complements to national-level infrastructure.
- Democratizing the Architecture of the Internet
The Internet’s architecture, communication systems, and document and data formats shall be based on open standards that ensure complete interoperability, inclusion and equal opportunity for all.
Recognizing the fundamental distributed, decentralized and diverse nature of the internet, everyone shall have universal and open access to the Internet and its content, free from discriminatory prioritization, filtering or control for political or commercial purposes, while allowing for legitimate technical traffic management. The Internet should continue to evolve via open, permission-less innovation and the voluntary adoption of standards through inclusive multi-stakeholder processes, with due regard for the diversity of human abilities.
- Freedom of Expression & Association
Everyone should have the right to freedom of expression, opinion, and association without interference online and offline. State and non-state actors should refrain from infringing upon the universal right to receive and impart information, opinions and ideas. Any restrictions on online activity should conform with necessary and proportionate principles.
Attempts to silence critical voices and censor social and political content or debate on the Internet should be stopped. Everyone should also be free to use the Internet to organize and form associations, and to engage in protests.
- Right to Privacy & Protection of Personal Data
Everyone has a right to privacy on the Internet and the right to control how their personal data is collected, used, disclosed, retained, and disposed. Everyone should be able to communicate free from the threat of surveillance and interception. Targeted surveillance for the protection of public health and safety should always provide safeguards for human rights and be governed by transparent rules and oversight mechanisms.
Everyone should also have the right to communicate anonymously on the Internet and should be free to use encryption technology to ensure secure, private and anonymous communication.
- Gender Equality
Everyone should have an equal right to learn about, access, define, use, and shape the Internet regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Efforts to increase access must recognize and redress existing gender inequalities. In particular, there must be full participation of women in all areas related to the development of the Internet to ensure gender equality.
Gender-based violence involving the use of technology is growing, and the harms and violations perpetrated through and with ICTs are in need of serious attention. There must be concrete programs and mechanisms to prevent violence in cyberspace by promoting human rights for all and harnessing the potential of ICTs to promote women’s empowerment. The Internet must promote diversity and social justice, and should be a transformative space to challenge and dismantle social injustice and patriarchy.
- Openness and Access to Information, Knowledge, and Culture
Everyone should have the right to access information on the Internet and be free from restrictions on access to knowledge. Copyright and patent regimes must not disproportionately restrict the capacity of the Internet to support public access to knowledge and culture. The State must ensure an enabling environment where linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity are encouraged as it enriches the development of society. It should also promote the development of local content and the production and use of free, libre, and open source software (FLOSS).
- Socio-Economic Empowerment and Innovation
Everyone should be free to use the Internet for socio-economic empowerment and innovation. Innovators should be encouraged to design, develop, and implement information and communication technologies that respect human rights and that contribute to socio-economic empowerment and sustainable development. The State shall also foster an enabling environment for the growth of innovators and start-ups.
- Education and Digital Literacy
Everyone should have the knowledge and skills that enable them to use and shape the Internet. Everyone should have access to online resources, materials, and knowledge. Digital literacy is fundamental to children’s capacity to use the Internet competently and exercise their human rights. Digital literacy will facilitate more active, responsible, and productive citizen participation in political, social and economic spheres.
The State should promote open educational resources and enable open access to research and data, as well as the use of free and open source software.
- Liberty, Safety, & Security on the Internet
Everyone has the right to liberty and security on the Internet. Security measures, devised and implemented in a consensual manner, must be consistent with international human rights laws and norms. Everyone has the right to enjoy secure connections to and on the Internet, including protection from malware and fraud, as well as services and protocols that threaten or impair the current technical functioning of the Internet. Digital security measures should be commensurate with the threats they seek to address, taking into consideration and relative to the benefits of the social, economic and democratic activity they seek to protect.
- Internet and ICTs for Environmental Sustainability
Sustainable use of the Internet must be encouraged and enabled. E-waste should be minimized and recycled or otherwise disposed of in a manner that is protective of the environment. Sustainable use of the Internet that minimizes its impact on resources should be encouraged.
8 Layer Technologies, Inc.
Cebu Blogging Community
Cebu Youth Society Group
Foundation for Media Alternatives
Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas
Info Shop Marinduque
Initiatives for International Dialogue
Internet Society – Philippines
Kaisa _ Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan
Ligdung Sumbanan Alang sa mga Kabataan sa Sugbu
Marindukanon Studies Center
National Alliance of Youth Leaders
Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance
Philippine Network Foundation, Inc.
Start Up Davao
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau