Will OECD serve Hollywood against our Freedoms?

Paris, June 27th, 2011 – The OECD countries are finalizing a communiqué about the future of the Internet. The outcome could either be a text favourable to citizens' fundamental freedoms, or a push towards more repression and private policing of the Internet, in line with the ACTA agreement, the G8's conclusions and EU copyright strategy.

Starting tomorrow and for two days, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – which is comprised of 34 rich and industrialized western countries – is holding a meeting on the future of the Internet Economy. The final text of the communiqué it will issue at the end of this two-day event will decide either in favour of the rights of citizens, or the repressive policies of powerful corporate actors defended by a few governments.

The history of the Internet is at a turning point, and the OECD member countries have to take sides. On one hand, the trend for repressive policies has never been so strong, with the ACTA agreement1, the G8 conclusions2 and the EU strategy3 for the future copyright willing to hand out police and justice missions to Internet companies, with an inevitable impact on freedom of expression online. In this scenario, machines at the heart of the network would be configured to decide what is “lawful” or not4, denying the right to a fair trial to citizens and negating the very essence of justice.

On the other hand, and in total opposition, is the report by UN rapporteur for the protection of freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, which favours the protection of fundamental freedoms over copyright enforcement and policing of the Internet5. La Quadrature du Net's proposals6 for fostering fundamental freedoms online, access to a free infrastructure and the free flow of information go in the same direction.

“The OECD governments' conclusions will show if this institution is really useful to the general interest, or if it serves the interest of the small number of governments who keep on pushing for the entertainment industries' repressive and conservative policies. Unfortunately, the list of panel participants7 suggests that the OECD may have already taken the side of big corporations seeking to control the Net. The OECD's legitimacy can only come if its member countries stand up to protect our rights and a free, universal internet infrastructure over private interests.” concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.