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OSZE-Bericht: Internetsperren unvereinbar mit Grundrecht auf Meinungsfreiheit

July 14, 2011

Die Organisation für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in Europa (OSZE) hat einen Monat nach dem Bericht des UN-Sonderbeauftragten La Rue nun ebenfalls einen Bericht zur Meinungsfreiheit und den freien Informationsfluss im Internet veröffentlicht.

Da das Internet im täglichen Leben immer wichtiger wird, sei es dem OSZE-Bericht zufolge beunruhigend, dass immer mehr Regierungen sogenannte „Three-Strikes“-Gesetze einführen, die Urheberrechtsverstöße im Internet mit einer Sperre des verwendeten Internetanschlusses bestrafen.   

In dem 233-seitigen Bericht wird ausdrücklich erklärt, dass Maßnahmen, die Bürger vom Netz ausschließen, gegen das Recht der Meinungsfreiheit verstoßen. Der Internetzugang sollte als Menschenrecht angesehen werden (S. 20):

The increased use of so-called “three-strikes” legal measures to combat Internet piracy is worrisome given the growing importance of the Internet in daily life. “Three-strikes” measures provide a “graduated response” resulting in restricting or cutting off the users’ access to the Internet in cases where a user has attempted to download pirated material. The third strike usually leads to the user’s access to the Internet being completely cut off. This disproportionate response is most likely to be incompatible with OSCE commitment on the “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” In the Charter for European Security, the participating States in 1999 “reaffirmed the importance of independent media and the free flow of information as well s the public’s access to information [and committed] to take all necessary steps to ensure the basic conditions for free and independent media and unimpeded transborder and intra-State flow of information, which [they] consider the be an essential component of any democratic, free and open society.” Any interference with such a fundamental human right, as with any other human right, must be motivated by a pressing social need, whose existence must be demonstrated by the OSCE participating States and must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. Access to the Internet must be recognized as a human right, and therefore “graduated response” mechanisms which could restrict users’ access to the Internet should be avoided by the OSCE participating States.

Auch was Internetsperren und –filter – besonders im Bereich des Kampfes gegen Kinderpornographie – angeht, kommt der Bericht zu dem Schluss, dass derlei Maßnahmen im Hinblick auf die Vereinbarkeit mit dem Grundrecht der Meinungsfreiheit hinterfragt werden sollten (S. 21 ff.):

However, as will be seen below, blocking measures are not always provided by law, nor are they always subject to due process principles. Furthermore, blocking decisions are not necessarily taken by the courts of law, and often administrative bodies or Internet hotlines run by the private sector single handedly decide which content, website or platform should be blocked. Blocking policies often lack transparency and administrative bodies (including hotlines) lack accountability. Appeal procedures are either not in place or where they are in place, they are often not efficient. Therefore, increasingly, the compatibility of blocking with the fundamental right of freedom of expression must be questioned. (…)

There is concern that voluntary blocking mechanisms and agreements do not respect due process principles within the states in which they are used. In the absence of a legal basis for blocking access to websites, platforms and Internet content, the compatibility of such agreements and systems with OSCE commitments, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights is arguably problematic. Although the auhorities’ good intentions to combat child pornography and other types of illegal content is legitmate, in the absence of a valid legal basis in domestic law for blocking access to websites, the authority or power given to certain organizations and institutions to block, administer, and maintain the blacklists remains problematic. Such a “voluntary interference” might be contradictory to the conclusions of the Final Document of the Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE and in breach of Article 19 and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights unless the necessity for interference is convincingly established. Both, the 1994 Budapest OSCE Summit Document and the European Court of Human Rights reiterated the importance of freedom of expression as one of the preconditions for a functioning democracy. In Budapest “[t]he participating States reaffirm[ed] that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and a basic component of a democratic society. In this respect, independent and pluralistic media are essential to a free and open society and accountable systems of government.” Genuine, “effective” exercise of this freedom does not depend merely on the state’s duty not to interfere, but may require positive measures to protect this fundamental freedom. Therefore, a blocking system based exclusively on self-regulation or “voluntary agreements” risks being a non-legitimate interference with fundamental rights.   

Bericht der OSZE: Freedom of Expression on the Internet – Study of legal provisions and practices related to freedom of expression, the free flow of information and media pluralism on the Internet in OSCE participating States (pdf)

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