In March of 2017, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published “Standards for a Free, Open and Inclusive Internet” with the aim to “assist the member States in their efforts to incorporate a human rights-based focus in the design, development, and implementation of policies affecting the Internet.” The report drew upon the 2013 Report on Freedom of Expression and the Internet, but served to update and broaden its analysis to the new challenges faced in the exercise of human rights online, particularly freedom of expression.

In publishing this work, the IACHR continues their acknowledgment that the Internet is a unique tool with the potential to expand human rights, particularly the right to freedom of expression, through broader public arenas. As the Internet grows and expands in its complexity, so grows its ability to be that instrument and to increase levels of social benefits and inclusion. However, they also are quick to include that “in order for the benefits of the Internet and other communications technology to be distributed inclusively and sustainably among the population, the relevant policies and practices must be based on respecting and guaranteeing human rights especially the right to freedom of expression, which facilitates and enables the exercise of other rights on the Internet.”

The report also focuses on narrowing down their guiding principles for a free and open Internet, access to the Internet, multi-stakeholder governance, quality and nondiscrimination. One such Guiding Principle is the “relevance of the Internet as a platform for the enjoyment and exercise of human rights is directly tied to the architecture of the web and its governing principles, including the principles of openness, decentralization, and neutrality.”

These sorts of efforts mirror those of OpenStand and our Modern Paradigm for Standards. In order to have a free and open Internet that can benefit all, there must be standards developed that, among other things, encourage collective empowerment that contribute to the creation of global communities and that benefit humanity.

What do you think about these efforts from the IACHR? Did any of the report specifically strike you?