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Háttéranyagok ::

Letter from dr. Tamás Gaudi-Nagy to the Facebook team


Dear Madam / Sir,
As a human rights lawyer and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe I would like to stress my greatest dissatisfaction related to your unacceptable and illegal act by blocking and deleting the Facebook site of the news portal twice within a short period during the past few days. As one of the most active member of this reputable European human rights watchdog (COE) I have raised many times there the issue of the importance of the freedom of speech, especially in the field of the world of the Internet. 
I am fully convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of the media and Internet are essential for a democratic society. It is necessary to protect users’ freedom of expression and ability to access information on the Internet and online media against threats from public authorities and private companies.  
I absolutely agree with the recommendation made by the Committee of Ministers of COE adopted in 2011, which states that the right to freedom of expression includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive important information and ideas without interference. That is essential for ensuring that citizens can participate in the democratic process. The right to freedom of expression applies to both online and offline activities, regardless of frontiers. In the context of the Council of Europe, these protections should be ensured in accordance with Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights. 
According to the relevant COE legislation it is important to highlight that individuals have the right to free and uncensored access to the Internet. States should interfere with these rights under exceptional circumstances only. Such measures should not be taken lightly and only if they are effective, appropriate, proportionate and in accordance with international legal obligation.  
The website plays a key role in the Hungarian democratic political scene with one of the greatest number of readers, notwithstanding the fact that the views or comments posted there seem to be somehow bizarre, tough or provocative. Yet this should be tolerated by democratic states and companies which respect to the rule of law and basic human rights.  
The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals". 
Human rights and freedom of expression should not make any difference from the point of view of the content. That is why I like the First Amendment to the US Constitution. It allows people to express their views and raise disputes in a democratic way. For example, child pornography is a really bad thing and I am absolutely against it and it must be blocked. However, we cannot apply an equal level of sanction to all materials or put it alongside things like material that, in the subjective opinion of certain NGOs, "incites xenophobic discrimination". It is easy to make judgments based on personal opinion or to express one’s personal view. Yet democracy might be endangered if we always fight against others’ unpleasing opinions. 
According to the explanatory memorandum of PACE Resolution no. 1877 on the protection of freedom of expression and information on the Internet and online media:   
"Where state authorities restrict, filter or block access to the Internet or mobile communication services, Article 10 of the Convention is clearly at stake." 
According to 10.4 of Resolution no. 1877 in order to protect freedom of expression and information on the Internet and online media, the Assembly calls on the member states of the Council of Europe to implement the Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)16 on measures to promote the public service value of the Internet; particular attention should be paid to the obligation not to refuse, provide in a discriminatory manner, or terminate services to users without the right to do so.  
These criteria must be applied by the private operators of Internet related ventures like the Facebook. 
Your action was a typical form of discriminatory termination services to users. 
Your action against the Facebook page of the news portal is clearly an aggressive way of Internet censorship which means a breach of the relevant laws. 
Through this action - initiated by NGOs with Jewish links - you have joined the list of Internet enemy countries that apply Internet censorship.  
The concept of 
freedom of information has emerged in response to state sponsored censorship, monitoring and surveillance of the Internet. Internet censorship includes the control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet. The Global Internet Freedom Consortium seeks to remove blocks to the "free flow of information" for what they term "closed societies". According to Reporters Without Borders (RWB) "Internet enemy list" the following states engage in pervasive internet censorship: ChinaCubaIran, Myanmar/Burma, North KoreaSaudi ArabiaSyriaTurkmenistanUzbekistan, and Vietnam
Your mission by operating Facebook plays an important role in fostering the principles of democracy and bringing people closer to each other, thus helping to make the world better. I myself have a Facebook page presenting my activity in the field of human rights defense and politics.   
Do not spoil your mission by maintaining this illegal and dictatorship-like blocking of the news portal.
I truly hope that you are able to admit your fault and correct this faux pas and will restart the Facebook page of news portal as soon as possible while expressing your apologies to the large number of the Facebook community. 
In case of failure to do so and in the lack of providing the proposed remedies, I cannot help but raise this extraordinary issue at the next session of the Hungarian Parliament and at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe urging the condemnation of your company in a written declaration at least (at the plenary session as well), which will be distributed to international organizations, human rights NGOs, the press and all the Internet media, which can be really unpleasant from the point of view of your goodwill, therefore I think it is worth avoiding it. 
Best regards, 
Dr. Tamás Gaudi-Nagy  
Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe  
Member of the Hungarian Parliament

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