Protecting freedom of speech as a fundamental human right is one of AAID’s basic values. But freedom of speech is not the only human right.
Other rights include the right to life and protection of human integrity as well as our democratic institutions.
Each of those rights deserves protection – indeed equal protection.
Limiting freedom of speech protection to the perimeter imposed by the co-existence of these other rights does not amount to a violation of free speech protection.
The European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) describes the problem with admirable precision: “… user-generated expressive activity on the Internet provides an unprecedented platform for the exercise of freedom of expression … However, alongside these benefits, certain dangers may also arise. Defamatory and other types of clearly unlawful speech, including hate speech and speech inciting violence, can be disseminated like never before, worldwide, in a matter of seconds, and sometimes remain persistently available online…” (Judgment of June 16th 2015, Delfi AS v. Estonia).
Willfully hurting people, our democratic institutions and way of life has never been laudable or worthy of protection.
Our initiative is meant to be a true sign of tolerance and respect of human integrity. These values do not restrict the quintessential character of freedom of speech – on the contrary they ensure its long-term survival.
There is a limit to freedom of expression and such limit is imposed by the necessary coexistence with other human rights.
In terms of human integrity our values are inspired by laws applicable worldwide already with regard to IP protection (indeed:Why should personal integrity deserve less protection than personal creativity?).
We believe that a person’s integrity is worthy of at least the same level of protection as his creativity. The former applies to us all. The latter only to a very small group of people.
AAID’s leitmotif is accountability. The providers of services on the internet (ISPs) including search engines, host, platforms and content providers in general should be accountable for content disseminated on their infrastructure. The procedural challenges and the protracted nature of defamation cases are incompatible with today’s technology and the harm done in the meantime is often irreparable.
At the same time, we must however provide the private sector with clear guidance and efficient relief against the consequences of such accountability when confronted with difficult judgement calls.
We do not advocate strict liability or a general monitoring obligation. Accountability presupposes specific awareness of the illicit nature of the content in question.
We firmly believe that ISPs will understand our objectives and seek to work with us in striking the necessary balance between freedom of speech and protection of other values (both individual and democratic).