Tallinn, Estonia

29 April 2014

Secretary-General's video message to the fourth Annual Freedom Online Coalition Conference: Free and Secure Internet for All - 28-29 April 2014

Your Excellency, Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, Excellencies, Distinguished ministers, Representatives of international and non-governmental organizations, Leaders of industry and business executives, Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to greet this important meeting of the Freedom Online Coalition.

Freedom is a timeless value.

The United Nations Charter calls for encouraging respect for fundamental freedoms.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights mentions freedom more than twenty times.

All countries have committed to protecting individual freedoms on paper – but in practice, too many break their pledge.

We see, increasingly, shut-downs of Internet and media outlets. We see crackdowns against dissidents, journalists and human rights defenders.

I am disturbed by how States abuse laws on Internet access. I am concerned that surveillance programmes are becoming too aggressive.

I understand that national security and criminal activity may justify some exceptional and narrowly-tailored use of surveillance. But that is all the more reason
to safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Some argue that they need to curtail freedoms to preserve order. I say they need
to protect freedom or they will undermine order.

The United Nations is closely engaged on all the issues on your agenda: Internet freedom, cybersecurity and the digital divide.

We want to ensure that the Internet is an affordable, reliable, secure and trustworthy global public resource that can help empower people to improve our world.

I look forward to your ideas on how to realize this vision.

Thank you.