IGF 2018 WS #451
Do we need free speech laws like we need privacy laws?

Organizer 1: Fernández Maryant, European Digital Rights (EDRi)

Speaker 1: Jamila Venturini, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Moses Karanja, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 3: Fernández Maryant, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Maria Paz Canales, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Maryant Fernandez Perez, EDRi

Online Moderator

Pablo Viollier, Derechos Digitales


Maryant Fernandez Pérez, EDRi


Panel - 60 Min


The moderator will ask questions to the panelists so the session is not a traditional panel.
These questions will include:
- What are the difficulties that your stakeholder group faces in protecting freedom of expression?
- Can a global solution be appropriate?
- If we were to propose a General Freedom of Expression Regulation similar to the GDPR for personal data protection, what would you include?
- What specific rights do we have or should have derived from our human right to freedom of expression and opinion?


The proposal has been designed to ensure and foster diversity from different perspectives, such as viewpoints, background, regions and gender. The session aims at having representation from multiple regions and stakeholder groups. The debate counts aims at having representatives from academia, the private sector (to be secured), the public sector (to be secured) and civil society from different regions of the world.

Around the world, there is some degree of national legislation that circumscribes privacy rights in an environment where risks are obvious. In freedom of expression, the activities of intermediaries can also restrict our rights as citizens or consumers. National legislation that positively protects our free speech against arbitrary restrictions by online companies is broadly absent.

The panelists and participants will be invited to propose proactive actions to how we can ensure our human right to freedom of expression and opinion is respected and protected. The aim is to ensure we advance discussions forward.

The panel will not be a traditional session where speakers speak the whole time and the audience has 10 minutes at the end to engage in the discussions. Speakers and participants will be able to respond to several questions from the moderator.

Speakers will talk for 3-4 min each at the beginning to kick off the discussions. However, if anyone in the room or online would like to make a comment or intervene, this is possible. All onsite and online participants will have several opportunities to participate in the discussions equally. The onsite and online moderators will make sure this happens.

Intermediary liability discussions are not new. We have been having similar agreements and disagreements without moving the discussion forward for decades. This session aims at discussing whether free speech legislation as a backstop to unending state demands for private regulation of our online activities would be a necessary and proportionate tool. If positive legislation is not the solution, what durable framework and other measures can protect freedom of expression online in the XXI century?

Online Participation

We plan to engage with remote attendees using a combination of social media and e-mails. We will use the official IGF hashtag
to communicate about this session and invite people to send us preliminary questions or comments from remote participants at the start of the session at any moment of the session, not just at the end.