The Council of Europe and the Internet : Freedom and safety online

Venice Commission

The Council of Europe and the Internet


Freedom and safety online


The Council of Europe works with its 47 member states, the private sector, civil society and other actors to shape an Internet based on human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law.

Its ultimate aim is to ensure that the Internet provides a safe and open environment where freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, diversity, culture, education and knowledge can flourish.

The Council of Europe does this through its conventions in fields such as cybercrime, data protection and the protection of children, via the development of recommendations to its member states and of guidelines for private sector Internet actors.

The Organisation has committed to ten Internet governance principles and has called on its member states to uphold them when developing Internet related public policies. It has also encouraged other stakeholders to embrace them in the exercise of their own responsabilities.

The Council of Europe also promotes and supports the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG), and is an observer to the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Council of Europe launches a human rights guide for internet users

Strasbourg, 17.04.2014 – The Council of Europe today launched a guide for internet users to help them better understand their human rights online and what they can do when these rights are challenged.

The creation of the Guide was triggered by the need to empower users to exercise their human rights online. Generally, their rights are set out in the terms of service of Internet companies, which are mostly lengthy legal contractual conditions which are seldom read and even more seldom fully understood.

The Guide focuses on the human rights on which the internet has most impact: access and non-discrimination, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly, association and participation, privacy and data protection, education and literacy, protection of children and young people, and the right to effective remedies for violations of human rights.  (more...)

Guide to Human Rights for Internet Users

Council of Europe ministerial conference calls for effective safeguards against electronic mass surveillance


Belgrade, 08.11.2013 – Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society from the 47 Council of Europe member states have called today for adequate and effective guarantees against abuse concerning the growing technological capabilities for electronic mass surveillance. This abuse “may undermine or even destroy democracy”, they said.

In a political declaration adopted at the conference “Freedom of Expression and Democracy in the Digital Age: Opportunities, rights, responsibilities”, which has been held in Belgrade this week, the ministers recall that any data collection or surveillance for the protection of national security must be done in compliance with human rights requirements, including the European Convention on Human Rights. They also adopted three resolutions mapping out the future work of the Council of Europe in the field of freedom of expression.

The ministers note that freedom of expression and media freedom are threatened today in various parts of Europe, and call on states for political commitment and greater efforts to protect them. With regard to the growth of hate speech in Europe, they underline the need for action both at national and international level. (more...)

EuroDIG Internet conference to assess privacy versus freedom of expression

Strasbourg, 06.06.2014 - Over 600 participants will attend an internet conference to assess the balance between privacy rights and free expression at the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) in Berlin from 12-13 June.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will open the conference, which will take place at the German Foreign Office and hosted by the Association of the German Internet Industry (ECO).

The Council of Europe will be an integral part of the conference, having recently published a human rights guide for Internet use that covers freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly and privacy and data protection. A German translation will be made available in Berlin. (more...)

Council of Europe and Internet