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Challenges and opportunities for freedom of expression in the networked environment

Glossary: Glossary

Second Generation mobile phone standards that include limited data capabilities, for example for the sending of text messages (SMS or short message service)
Third Generation mobile phone standards that allow for higher data transmission speeds, facilitating broadband internet access
access to knowledge
A movement aiming to improve access across the world to: human knowledge; information; goods whose production is dependent on scientific or technical knowledge (e.g. drugs, electronic hardware); and the tools to produce them. Countries do not participate equally in the global economy, so their citizens do not have equal access to it benefits. A2K sees this as a matter of justice, liberty and economic development, as well as intellectual property rights. A group of NGOs has developed and asked WIPO to consider a draft A2K treaty.
American Telephone and Telegraph company, the old incumbent telecommunications company in the USA. The company was broken up in 1984 by anti-trust legislation into regional telephone companies popularly referred to as the ‘Baby Bells’. AT&T still operated as a long distance national carrier in the USA. AT&T was bought in 2005 by SBC (a former Baby Bell), and the company was re-named AT&T
An individual’s online journal, commentary or analysis of events, usually including links to other blogs.
The blog environment; the combined world of news, views, opinions and debates expressed in blogs
British Telecom, the incumbent telecommunications company in the UK
chilling effect
Suppression of speech or actions because of a fear of reprisals or penalties
citizen journalism
Participation by citizens (not usually professional journalists) in gathering, analysing and distributing news and images, whether individually or by participating in an online news site. Aims to provide an independent and alternative viewpoint to traditional news organisations
citizen media
Content produced by private citizens, distributed via the internet, as an alternative to state or corporately produced content
communication rights
a belief that there is a right to communicate, in addition to the established right to freedom of epxression. It implies popular access to the means of communciation.
Ability of hardware on a computer network to connect and communicate with other devices
The move towards a shared technology or standard (e.g. Internet Protocol) for different applications. Also, developments prompted by this technical convergence in the areas of equipment, business models and regulatory frameworks
The discipline or study of secrecy in messages. Central to a range of applications in information technology, including computer and network security, access control and passwords
curating, curator model
Preserving, cataloguing and making available information. A proposed alternative to gatekeeping models of information management on the internet
An individual who publishes information on-line that challenges or criticizes a government
digital divide
The marked global inequalities in access to the internet’s technology and information
digital rights management, DRM
Techniques for technologically controlling the copying and use of licensed material
digital subscriber line, DSL
Technology that enables the digital transmission of data over telephone lines
Use of electronic communications to support, promote or improve democratic processes
Electronic government. Availability of government and public services to citizens, or the exchange of information between state and citizens, either online or via other technologies
Also called scrambling. Coding or obscuring information so that it cannot be read without the knowledge to decode it (called the encryption key)
European Union
Federal Communications Commission, the body responsible for regulating inter-state communications in the USA
Freedom of Expression
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the founding document of the modern human rights movement, speaks of “freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want” as its core aspirations. Freedom of speech is guaranteed under international law through numerous human rights instruments, notably under Article 19 of the UDHR. The term freedom of expression is preferred within international conceptions of human rights, as freedom of expression is not confined to verbal speech but is understood to protect any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. It therefore embraces cultural expression and the arts as much as political speech. Importantly, the exchange of opinions, ideas and information should be capable of being a public act, not something confined to private discourse, because it is in this sense that it underpins democratic freedoms such as the right to form political parties, the right to share political ideas etc. Freedom of expression is often regarded as a foundation right as its existence helps guarantee other rights and freedoms. Without freedom of expression, it would be difficult to guarantee many of the rights in the UDHR; social justice would not be obtainable; and good governance seriously hindered.
Selecting and managing the availability and flow of information; involves judgements about filtering. Cf curating
Governance deals with the processes and systems by which an organization or society operate. It embraces both the institutions of the state and their inter-relationships as well as the habits, cultures and norms that inhabit those institutions. By implication, good governance implies an active functioning democracy with powerful institutions being held to account for their actions, transparency and honesty in the practice of public administration and an active role for civil society.
Human Rights
Human rights are those entitlements the protection of which is regarded as a necessary condition for a fully realised human existence. Their protection involves supporting the basic conditions of human existence, the ability of people to function in civil society and as political beings, and the defence of their cultural expression (including language). Many countries have their own Bills of Rights, which are often the product of their own history and circumstances, both in content and manner of enforcement. The agreed definitions of rights are found at the international level in the three documents that make up the International Bill of Rights:
  • the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
  • the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and
  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC).
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the body that represents the recording industry worldwide
Used in the field of communications to refer to the company that currently holds the most power in a particular communications sector. Incumbents are usually companies that were previously state-owned monopolies
information rights
see communication rights
intellectual property rights
IP or Internet Protocol
The protocol that moves packets of data across the internet, routing them according to the address (IP number) of the device receiving the data
Intellectual Property Rights, the legal rights that the creators of new ideas (including technology and artistic works) have over their creation
Internet Protocol Television, services that provide access to video and television services via an internet connection. Also known as Video on demand.
Internet Service Provider, a company that provide internet connections to end users. Many ISPs do not own physical networks themselves and act as links between network owners and end-users
The opening up of an industry to more competition, often involving the relaxation of government restrictions
media accountability
Responsibilities considered to attach to mass media outlets, to contribute to the public interest
media democracy
A concept and social movement based on the principles that: a healthy democratic system depends on comprehensive and diverse information and interaction; the media role should be to act in the public interest; the mass media are increasingly failing in this because of concentration of ownership and commercial pressures; this hampers voters and citizens in participating knowledgeably in public policy debates.
media rights
A term used variably. Related to media democracy: the rights of individuals to a plurality of media outlets, that reflect a diversity of views and content; the rights of the media to freedom from government interference
NCE the Networked communications environment
All of the physical infrastructure and technologies, companies, governments, members of the public and other actors that use and control digital communications. This includes the relationships between these actors and the underlying economic, social and political structures that influence them
net neutrality
the principle that the internet should not distinguish or differentiate between types of data carried over it
Next Generation Network, IP based converged networks that allow for the transport of any type of data across a single network
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, the incumbent telecommunications company in Japan
Personal Computer (desk-top and lap-top).
peace journalism, journalism for peace
An approach to conflict reporting based on making choices, about what to report and how, in order to promote and value non-violent responses to conflict. Aims to: illuminate issues of structural and cultural violence; frame conflicts as consisting of many parties; make peace initiatives more visible.
A shared set of rules or standards that allow computing technologies to connect and communicate with each other
public service broadcasting (PSB)
Broadcasting of programmes with a broad remit of informing, educating and challenging viewers. May be state or commercially funded but operating under a regulatory framework that sets social objectives.
see encryption
Social Justice
Social justice is usually understood to refer to processes that provide due process and enforce the rules agreed by a society. Social justice is understood more broadly as that which gives individuals or groups their due within society as a whole, and implies measures that overall ensure fairness in society in the way that rewards and burdens are distributed. In the modern world it is central to the debates about “north” and “south” economic and political relationships. One of the main modern theorists of social justice is John Rawls who suggested that it is guaranteed by a set of liberties that reasonable citizens in all states should respect and uphold. The list proposed by Rawls matches the normative human rights mentioned above that have international recognition, showing the close relationship between social justice and rights.
Transmission Control Protocol, the protocol that checks whether all of the data packets being sent across the internet have been received at their destination, and triggers re-transmission if some have been lost
The two protocols that form the basis of internet communication, allowing remote devices connected to the internet to communicate with each other. See separate definitions for TCP, IP and Protocol
traditional media
The industries of television and radio broadcasting and printed newspapers, which predate online news media
Agreement on Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property rights, an international treaty created in 1994 and administered by the WTO
United Nations
The separation out of the components of a network, for example into supply and transmission. Unbundling or common carrier legislation often means that companies who own the physical networks have to allow other companies to transmit data across them
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
walled garden
a closed set or exclusive set of information services provided for users, as opposed to the whole open internet
Web 2.0
‘Web 1.0’ generally refers to ‘first generation’ internet activities such as e-mail and static web pages. ‘Web 2.0’ is widely used to refer to newer, more participatory internet tools such as blogs, social networking sites and wikis which allow for more user interaction than was previously possible on the internet.
Wireless Fidelity, technological standards that allow wireless users to link to each other and to the internet across distances of around 100 metres
Wikis are online applications that allow users collaboratively author documents through editing and online discussion. Wikipedia, the free collaborative encyclopaedia, is the best-known example of a wiki.
Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, technological standards that allow for wireless internet access across distances of around 10 kilometres
World Intellectual Property Organisation, a specialist agency of the UN responsible for the promotion of intellectual property worldwide
World Summit on the Information Society, the UN-sponsored conference held in two phases in 2003 and 2005 to address global changes and challenges wrought by new communications technologies. The annual Internet Governance Forum was an outcome of WSIS, intended as a global multi-stakeholder arena for continued discussion
World Trade Organisation, the international organization responsible for regulating trade at the global level