Representatives of seven international broadcast companies recently met in Berlin and asserted their belief in the importance of freedom of information as a worldwide standard, and they released a statement to this effect.
Attendees came from Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting Board of Governors, Deutsche Welle, Nippon Hoso Kyokai and Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and they called upon leaders to “support expanded opportunities to share information across borders through digital and mobile technologies.”
They acknowledged that in many countries, the current situation is far from adhering to the principles of Article 19. The statement said, “We find international journalism is facing unprecedented challenges from countries that seek to deny their own citizens access to information from outside their borders in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
They then quoted the document: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
China, Syria and Iran were pointed out in the statement as specific violators of the right to information, through blocking techniques such as blocking websites and social media, as well as jamming satellite and shortwave reception. Regions and continents, including Eurasia, Africa and Latin America were also cited as violators of freedom of information. They also noted that some of the actions actually violate international regulations, in addition to hampering access to information.
Referencing the World Conference on International Telecommunication event in Dubai, the statement says, “We cast a wary eye on such efforts to control the Internet, and we denounce efforts to identify and track Internet users in order to stifle free expression, inquiry and political activity.” They added, “We have agreed to increase, whenever possible, our support for efforts to circumvent Web censorship through the use of new and innovative hardware and software tools. We also agreed to increase our advocacy for Internet freedom.”