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Challenges and opportunities for freedom of expression in the networked environment

1.1 How does this work relate to other efforts to foster public interest communications policy?

info: Submitted by Lisa Horner on Thu, 2008-05-29 16:32.

In parallel with the Freedom of Expression Project, a number of past and ongoing initiatives have worked to define rights-based and public interest principles to guide digital communications policy making. In a separate document, we have mapped these initiatives according to their scope of interest and the enforcement mechanisms they use. This exercise revealed that most efforts to develop standards and principles in this field to date have focused on specific policy issues or on a particular technology (most commonly the internet). In contrast, the FoE Project is considering the communications environment in its entirety, encompassing all communications platforms and associated inter-relating issues. We believe that this is important during the ongoing process of convergence around internet protocol. Overarching principles should therefore be technology-neutral where possible, with individual policies addressing technology-specific issues where necessary. By basing our principles on the layer model of the communications environment, we also aim to demonstrate how seemingly separate issues relate to each other, helping different stakeholders locate themselves and define their roles within communications policy frameworks (see figure 1).

The mapping exercise also showed that there is a gap in existing initiatives between principles or guidelines based on ethics and values, and others based more specifically on policy outcomes such as market competition. We aim to bridge this gap through bringing values and outcomes together.

In sum, the Freedom of Expression Project aims to build on, and bring together, work already done rather than to re-invent the wheel; address gaps and weaknesses in existing declarations of principles; and use a layer model of the communications environment as a basis to make the recommendations coherent and accessible. We intend to involve representatives from diverse stakeholder groups and geographical regions in the design, adoption and implementation of the principles.

A layer model for understanding the communications environment

A layer model for understanding the communications environment