This is the fourth edition of the Freedom Online Conference. The 2014 Conference is organised by Estonia, one of the members of the Freedom Online Coalition. Anja Kovacs is a speaker in the panel discussion on ‘Fundamental Freedoms Online’ and in the parallel session on ‘Surveillance Reform: Towards Transparency and Accountability Online’.

The 4th annual conference of the Freedom Online Coalition shall continue open and inclusive discussions in a multi-stakeholder arena. The conference will first focus on the continued promotion of fundamental freedoms online. An epoch of Big Data provides the second key topic, asking about the role of business in advancing an open and free Internet. Keeping the Internet a unified and de-centralised forum and a tool for global free expression shall be the third focus point. Development will continue to be an important element of all discussions.

Frame of Reference

The Internet has been a driving force behind most global developments in the 21st century so far. A tool for information exchange, learning, business, e‑governance and development, it now brings together more than 2.5 billion people from around the world. Global use of the Internet is increasing. Regarding development, the Istanbul Program of Action for LDCs foresees that we should strive to provide everyone access to the Internet by 2020 and the Post-2015 Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons proposes a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to guarantee the public’s right to information and access to government data. All users of the Internet should enjoy freedom of expression and other human rights on the Internet in the same way as foreseen by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Questions about where the Internet is headed, whether, how and by whom it can or should be regulated have risen increasingly over the past few years.

The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) unites 22 governments with a broad scope of partners from the private and NGO sectors. On 28 – 29 April 2014 the FOC shall meet in Tallinn for a high level conference. In addition to discussions and debates on the acute issues of freedom online, the Tallinn meeting aims to agree on Recommendations for Freedom Online: a comprehensive document jointly developed by all the constituents of the global Internet community and adopted by the FOC governments. The Recommendations will be designed to ensure the free and global nature of the Internet, benefitting everyone. The Recommendations are meant to cover both the existing best practices from around the world as well as first-hand novel proposals for still unsolved challenges.

Anja Kovacs will be participating in two sessions in Tallinn:

PANEL DISCUSSION II: Fundamental Freedoms Online

It is fundamental for the further development of a free and secure Internet that human rights are applied equally offline and online. It is equally fundamental that protection of these rights be governed transparently and by the rule of law. As the Internet has evolved rapidly over the last years, new issues have emerged that call for a more specified and concrete understanding of how the universal rights and freedoms, including issues related to privacy and freedom of expression, should be applied online.

Moderator: Andrew Puddephatt, Director, Global Partners Digital


  • Anja Kovacs, Project Director, Internet Democracy Project

  • Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, UN

  • Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

  • Michael Nelson, Principal Strategist, Microsoft

PARALLEL SESSION: Surveillance Reforms: Toward Transparency and Accountability Center for Democracy & Technology/​Global Network Initiative

Recognizing the ongoing worldwide debate over communications surveillance for national security purposes, and the need for this debate to be informed by clear and reliable information, this workshop will discuss the importance of, and challenges to, increasing the transparency and accountability of government surveillance programs. The workshop will: identify the challenges related to government and corporate transparency around communications surveillance and highlight relevant and emerging responses and best practices; explore related areas of emerging consensus regarding communications surveillance reform, including common ground between civil society initiatives such as the Necessary and Proportionate principles and the Reform Government Surveillance principles issued by ICT companies; and, propose ways forward to increase transparency around government surveillance programs and identify the types of reforms that need to be pursued. We note that while there have been significant demands of businesses with regards to transparency and surveillance, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders, and particularly governments, to work towards and provide the transparency necessary to support thoughtful democratic debate around surveillance practices.

Moderator: Emma Llanso, Center for Democracy and Technology, United States


  • Dirk Brengelmann, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany

  • Lionel Veer, Human Rights Ambassador, The Netherlands

  • Anja Kovacs, Internet Democracy Project, India

  • Susan Morgan, The Global Network Initiative, United States

  • Nick Pickles, Big Brother Watch, United Kingdom

  • Chris Riley, Mozilla, United States

  • Cynthia Wong, Human Rights Watch, United States