Social Media & Freedom of Speech

 “Everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas without fear or interference.” (Amnesty International)

The internet has opened up the opportunity for people of the world  to readily give and receive information, opinions and ideas. It is also, however, the reason for challenges to freedom of expression in our world today. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has requested more international involvement to protect freedom of speech. Today in 2013, this might seem a little odd. We live in a world where the internet and social media make this right very accessible and easy to enjoy and national leaders are not usually thought of as the group to have problems with that access.

The technological developments of our time have been allowing people everywhere to share their views and opinions instantly. Nevertheless, the IPU argues that there are “few guarantees to ensure [this basic human right] is respected when it comes to electronic media, access to information and the right to privacy.” The IPU’s call for international action comes after its adoption of a resolution on the human rights violation of  Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament, in regards to her involvement with a video released by Wikileaks a few years ago.

While the IPU’s main concern is that Jónsdóttir’s parliamentary immunity under Icelandic law was not applied internationally, its resolution seems to point to greater issues. Part of the IPU’s mission is to “foster contacts, co-ordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries.” In its resolution, the IPU addresses its particular concern on the impact on Jónsdóttir’s freedom of expression in regards to “her ability fully to exercise her parliamentary mandate, parliamentary immunity, her right to privacy and her right to defend herself.”

Do you think that nations should be able to protect their leaders from other nations when it comes to their use of social media to disclose information? In addition, I think it is important for us to take into consideration that concerns of national security are usually at the forefront of restraints to freedom of speech. In the IPU’s call for international action, how can it account for these other international concerns as well?

Sources

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IPU Resolution

UN

IPU Press Release

IPU

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