Special Conference on Cyberspace: Freedom and Security
Part One: China
Topic: Balancing freedom of expression on the Internet with cultural norms
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  • General Overview of the Topic / UN perspective

Freedom of Expression has been a contestable issue amongst the various
member states of the United Nations ever since the right applied to the
Freedom of Speech. Today, expression has taken many forms – speech,
art, press and now, the internet.
Cyber laws are often very different from normal state laws, because the
internet is a globalised space; although nations may pose restrictions on
the extent that can be accessed, what is published on the Internet from
Pakistan, can be seen in China, and anywhere else, to a large extent.
The main problem that thus arises is setting national and international
boundaries to which the cyber laws apply. For example, Cyber Crime for
defamation of a person, committed in India or Singapore is considered for a
criminal charge where as it is not in the United States. It is necessary to set
limits as to where national and international restrictions can thus be placed,
so that states can exert their sovereignty over the content that is viewed by
their citizens
  • Major Parties Involved and Their Views

The Chinese government has banned several popular websites, such as Facebook and YouTube, since it may reveal negative information about their government, or have innapropriate content for their citizens.
  • Key Terms Defined:

Freedom of Expression: The rights to express opionon, share views and ideas, and seek, recieve, and impart opinion.
*In formal words:
The right to express opinions, share views and ideas, seek, receive
and impart information. Over the internet, this may refer to hosting
information on websites or spreading and receiving messages
through the social networks and e-mails etc.
Yes, Freedom of Expression still exists even though it can be
controlled by governments under certain circumstances, including
the protection of the rights and reputation of individuals, maintaining
public order and protecting national security.
Regarding Cultural Norms, these limitations and their boundaries
are widened or narrowed down to fit the cultural restrictions of
various nations, over the cyberspace
  • Timeline of Events:

1995 – Internet first garnered Media’s attention and public debate on its
safety and censorship
1996 – China restricts ISPs and users by requiring registration with the
1996 – Saudi Arabia restricts internet use to Universities and Hospitals
1996 – Germany limits access to some newsgroups on CompuServe
1996 – Singapore requires those websites publishing political or religious
content to register with the state first
2002 – Europe declares its International Cybercrime Treaty
2011 – The Conference on Internet Freedom at the Hague was held to find a
solution to many of the problems of international censorship
  • UN Involvement, Relevant Resolutions, Treaties and Events

The UN highly supports freedom of speech on the internet, and encourages all countries to not restrict internet content, since it is freedom of expression is a human right, even if it is against the country's religion or cultrure.
*In fromal words:

The United Nations wishes for there to be an international human right
to internet access and to achieve complete freedom of speech.
The UN Rapporteurs on this issue produced a report that stated that
nations are severely discouraged from restricting flow of information of
the internet, even for reasons such as intellectual propriety or cultural
norms. They have also suggested the decriminalisation of defamation
through the internet, even if it may be on cultural or religious grounds.
To support this statement of the United Nations, the Organisation for
the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organisation
of American States and the African Commission on Human and
Peoples’ Rights have declared that they will generally support
unlimited freedom of speech
  • Possible Solutions (According to UN): Make sure everybody knows what not to put on the internet, so that nations don't have problems with allowing citizens to view all content, make international laws that ban people from posting culturally offensive content on the internet, or a pannel could be selected to judge weather blocking certain sites is against freedom of expression or not.

*In formal words:
Some of the possible solutions to the issue at hand may take the following
• It is suggested to create boundaries and a clear definition of the
situations when the nation may intervene, and when the acts are under
international jurisdiction, either under International Cyber Laws or under
other international bodies of justice and crime.
•It may be also be a feasible option to set laws that apply internationally,
and predefine limits of what can be stated and published over the internet
regarding violations of cultural norms. Holding a non-binding convention to
discuss the possibilities and options regarding this solution may also be
progressive to the debate.
•Finally, an organisation or an overseeing panel of experts may be
assigned to determine which cases of violation of freedom of expression
may be entertained, and which may not.
  • What is the problem? How does it affect your country?
    Basically, the problem is that the UN discourages countries from having laws about restricting websites on the Internet. But, China has banned many websites because of they insult their religion or culture.This effects China because they have blocked some of the most popular websites, such as Facebook, YouTube, AOL, Skype, and MySpace. Many jouranalists in China and other countries that have censored internet, have been executed or impriosned for writing articles or making documentaries. against that culture, religion, or government. **
    • What has your country done to combat the problem?
    So far, they haven’t really given in to anything that the UN is saying. For some of the popular websites, like MySpace and YouTube, they have made their own, censored Chinese versions.
    • What are the various “sides” in the debate?
    Basically, it is freedom of speech versus cultural and religious norms.
    • Which aspects of the issue are most important to your country?
    That they censor certain things on the internet because those are against culture and government. They are an active member of the UN, who "strongly discouarages" banning internet in countries because it is against freedom of speech.
    • If your country is not involved with the issue, how can it become involved?- Very involved
    • How will your country shape the debate at the conference?
    They will basically advocate how blocking the internet is for the people's good because it "protects" them from having to hear their government or culture insulted. It also protects the Chinese people from rumours about them on the internet. China can also say that censoring internet tells people about what they should put and not put on the internet.
    • What arguments will other countries make?
    Basically the same thing as the UN- that it is not letting people have freedom of speech.
    • How do the positions of other countries affect your country’s position?
    They have the whole UN on their side, while there are only a very few countries on China's side.
    • Is there evidence or statistics that might help to back up your country’s position?
    Countries such as Vietnam agree with China and have followed in its footsteps of internet censorship.

Topic: Protecting personal privacy and security on the web: Myannmar
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General Overview of the Topic / UN perspective
Security on the web is one of the world’s largest growing crime rate. In 2011 the amount of ,money lost exceeded one trillion dollars. The UN has started to look into this crime through the economic and social council and the department of economic and social affairs. These committees are now in search to try and make the web a safer place.
Major Parties Involved and Their Views
Almost all countries are being affected by loss of privacy, because most social networks like Facebook or Twitter are where loss of privacy starts. The main places that are not being majorly affected are the places that do not give the liberty of using the web, for example China. This is because, without the web, these problems wouldn’t be happening anyways, so without web, places like China are unaffected.
Key Terms Defined
The right to be left alone, to exercise control over one’s personal
information, or a set of conditions necessary to protect our
individual dignity and autonomy.
A breach of privacy could include:
Looking through personal files and folders, external handling of
personal information and surveillance (usually without the
knowledge) of our actions
A law or act passed within nations to limit the breaches of privacy
and the associated damaging consequences on individuals. These
laws can apply to individuals over cyberspace, as well as
organisations and governments themselves.

Timeline of Events

1978 – The First Spam Mail was sent to many recipients across the internet
1980 – An advanced network was disrupted due to the accidental spread of a
computer virus
1985 – The first internet fraud was committed by Kevin Mitnick in Sun
Microsystems, Nokia, Fujitsu and Motorola; He was arrested the same year.
1988 – The first computer worm was created and spread across the globe.
1990 – Civil rights to the use of computers was first introduced and advocated for
in the United States of America.
1995- Vladimir Levin was arrested by Interpol for having convinced Citibank to
transfer $10 million from Citibank’s customers’ bank accounts to that of Vladimir
1996 – The Communications Decency Act was passed into the United States Federal
Law under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
1997 – The above decency provisions in the USA were overturned
1997 – The Copyright Millennium Act is accepted by the United States of America.
1998- Taiwanese national Chen Ing Haw released the CIH computer virus, which
overwrote critical information and rendered many computer systems to be
corrupted and damaged
1998 – Two Chinese nationals, Hao Jinglong and Hao Jingwen were found guilty of
hacking into a bank’s network and thus stealing $87,000.
2002 – The Church of Scientology has a conflict with Google for providing
information on one of their operations that was meant to be private and confidential
2005- Sony BMG was found to have an insecure and easily corruptible system
making many copyright protected data such as music, and even games like World of
Warcraft, susceptible to hacking and privacy breaches.
2006 - A Swedish website was raided for infringing on copyright laws in multiple
UN Involvement, Relevant Resolutions, Treaties and Events
In September 2011, a meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya, concerning the major issue of online security. This meeting was headed by the Internet Governance Forum, or the IGF. present, all discussing the same issue. They said that the web should be allowed, because it is a great place to find a lot of information aOver 2000 experts were nd a good meeting place. Although the counter point was that the web has been crime, suicide, and just overall panic.
Possible Solutions
I think the best solution at this point would be to just block a lot of social networks out of places like colleges, or maybe even schools. Although this might personal freedom a little bit, I think this is the way to go because a lot of major crime of stealing things like credit card information, or money, and I think the less web usage a person has, the better.

  • What is the problem? How does it affect your country?
The problem that I have is that sceurity on the internet has become a major issue. This is because with new technology there are new flaws that are being discovered in the internet. Also corruption of people that work in companies results in dangerous hacking devices being sold. This affects Myanmar because the countries people have lost a lot of privacy on the web, on the other hand though, Myanmar does not have many issiues in the security of the people because there are not many people in the country that have the knoledge to hack others due to the lack of web usage in the country.
  • What has your country done to combat the problem?
Myanmar has not done much to combat the problem, infact the government is the main reason of the issue. The government is the one that is limiting the privacy of people on the internet. This action, although going against what the UN says is right has brought down the levels of security issues in the country.
  • What are the various “sides” in the debate?
In the combat for personal privacy, there are really only two sides, one is the UN who is all for personal privacy on the web because they believe in freedom on the web to do what people want within the law. The other side is other countries like China, Myanmar, and to some extent Russia. These countries believe that they are protecting their country by limiting personal freedom because they are limiting blog and gossip sites which lead to suicides and violent actions. To some extent, this is true.

  • Which aspects of the issue are most important to your country?
The most important aspect to Myanmar is that the levels of hacking, stealing, and suicides on and due to the web are considerably lower in Myanmar then in many other countries around the world.

  • If your country is not involved with the issue, how can it become involved?
  • How will your country shape the debate at the conference?
My country will shape this debate so that we are talking more about the problem of security then privacy, because that is what we are trying to defend more, and to me, it is the more important problem.

  • What arguments will other countries make?
Other countries may argue that by limiting the privacy on the web that people are losing their personal freedom. Although this may be true, by limiting privacy, the government what is going on so that they can make sure that nothing that shouldn't be happening is happening. They also may say that this would be a lot of work, but I think that it would be worth it if you are protecting the people.

  • How do the positions of other countries affect your country’s position?
The positions of the other countries affect because many of them might be against Myanmar's proposal, but some countries, like Russia and China, which are two major countries, most probably will support this proposal.

  • Is there evidence or statistics that might help to back up your country’s position?
Yes, the evidence is that like I said before, Myanmar has very low levels of breach in the security of the web due to two things. One is that since the web usage is very limited in Myanmar, the people are not as used to it, so they don't know as much about hacking then in other countries. Second is that the government is always monitoring the web usage, and monitoring what is put on things like mail, blogs, social networks etc.

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