UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Internet and human rights Starkl-Moser, Miriam


This thesis provides an overview over the existing and emerging correlation of the Internet and Human Rights with the main focus on the human right to freedom of expression. It looks at how freedom of expression is protected and curtailed at the same time by regulation in the global context and nationally and how it could be protected in the future. Firstly, it will address general issues and problems connected with the Internet and Human Rights, like equal access to the new technology, and terrorism and the defence of freedom. It will look at the relationship of freedom of expression and other human rights, especially the right to privacy. Secondly, it will examine the applicability of international human rights agreements and the opportunities offered by them. It will also look at the possibility of drafting a new piece of international legislation and the effectiveness of national regulation. Although in some areas international consensus may be easier to achieve, for example in many aspects of criminal law enforcement, it is unrealistic to expect that countries with different cultural values will agree upon a single set of rules for the whole world. International harmonisation strategies are clearly an important response to the jurisdictional difficulties of Internet regulation, but they can't be the ultimate and single solution. But national regulation faces its problems, too. Due to the character of the Internet as a transnational medium and its borderless flow of information the nation state only has limited possibilities to effectively regulate the Internet within its borders and it has to accept a loss of sovereignty in cyberspace. Although regulation in some areas may be effective, complete control is impossible which will be shown. Thirdly, it will consider the different approaches that are available to regulate and control content on the Internet, their effectiveness and their influence on the human right to freedom of expression. It will illustrate in various examples in form of case studies the difficulties of Internet regulation. It will also provide an overview over selfrating schemes and filtering and blocking software and the problems connected with them. The liability of Internet Service Providers will be examined and alternatives to government control of the Internet will be discussed.

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