Be careful with internet laws

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Be careful with internet laws

Dunja Mijatović says we should not have too much internet security.

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Steve Johnson under a Creative Commons Licence

In this new digital age, we need to think in a new way about security. There are new threats. There are serious global problems with security. The world is not so stable and we cannot predict what will happen. We probably want more security than we can get. And we need good laws for the security problems.

But we cannot have too many laws, or they will restrict the freedoms they want to protect. We need governments and societies to know how important it is to protect the principles and rights that are the basis of modern democracies.

We must not use the cybersecurity laws wrongly so they stop the work of journalists or the media and the right of free expression. John Locke said: ‘Laws should not stop or restrict freedom, but keep freedom and make it bigger…. Where there is no law, there is no freedom.’

But it is complicated, because freedom of expression and freedom of the media online, mostly depend on the decisions of the owners of private networks and service providers. Big portals, search engines and technology manufacturers control distribution and access to content and ideas on new platforms. They protect the digital world. In many cases they control how free the internet is.

No-one says it is easy to regulate the internet. But we could use one very easy rule: people who govern least govern best. All people concerned must decide the rules and laws. Civil society, governments and businesses should all work together to protect user control, choice and privacy.

Media freedom and freedom of expression are the basis of any healthy democracy and very very important to all of us. We must protect the right to speak our minds and for journalists to do their work freely and safely – offline and online.

It is very important to treat media freedom – and internet freedom – for what it really is: a strong test of democracy. If we want to really understand the importance of free media, we just need to look at what happens in a place without it.

Dunja Mijatović is the representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/features/2015/01/01/cyber-regulation/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).