Open Net and about 40 NGOs push back against UNESCO internet regulation guideline

by | May 31, 2023 | Free Speech, Press Release | 0 comments

The following organizations, mainly the participants of Digital Rights Assembly in Asia Pacific (DRAPAC), May 22 thru 26, congregated to discuss the UNESCO’s recent efforts to provide a guideline for content regulation and produced and sent the following letter to UNESCO.



We have been following your efforts to set out Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms with increasing alarm.

As representatives of civil society from across the Asia Pacific region, we have been at the forefront of the very type of abuse these guidelines set out to address. We know better than most the harmful role that tech platforms can play. We also understand how government overreach and over-regulation can result in even greater harm. In our region, these harms often work hand-in-hand, with authoritarianism on the rise and governments turning to tech platforms to advance their undemocratic agendas.

Rather than rein in big tech and safeguard human rights, we fear that the guidelines will:

  1. Rubber stamp local over-regulation 

In our region, local regulation is regularly used to control and intimidate citizens.

In practice, these guidelines will be used to justify increased regulation rather than better regulation. 

  1. Embolden authoritarian regulators 

Our regulators lack independence, capacity and human rights commitments. Empowering these regulators means handing over more power to undemocratic processes.

  1. Incentivise platforms to comply with illegitimate government requests

Companies are already caving to our governments regardless of the impact on human rights. The proposed UNESCO model risks accelerating this slide, providing companies greater cover to comply.

It does not appear that UNESCO has considered safeguards to protect against these significant risks. 

We have raised our concerns with UNESCO, as have many of our peers – to no avail.

Our voices are not getting heard. 

We therefore urge UNESCO to:

  1. Pause the current timeline. 
  2. Undertake an independent human rights impact assessment of the guidelines, inclusive of views and perspectives from civil society in authoritarian contexts.

We stand ready to engage with this assessment and explore safeguards and alternatives. 

In anticipation of your response. 


๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia

  • OPTF

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ Bangladesh

  • Bangladesh Internet Governance Forum
  • Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication
  • Digitally Right

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India

  • Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM) 
  • Software Freedom Law Center

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia

  • Combine Resource Institution
  • Public Virtue Research Institute
  • PurpleCode Collective
  • Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet)

๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Lao

  • Manushya Foundation 

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ Malaysia

  • The IO Foundation

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฒ  Myanmar

  • Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM) 
  • Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
  • Digital Rights Collective
  • Free Expression Myanmar
  • Myanmar Internet Project


  • Digital Rights Nepal

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan

  • Media Matters for Democracy 
  • Digital Rights Foundation

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ Philippines

  • Filipino Freethinkers 
  • Foundation for Media Alternatives
  • Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH)
  • Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea

  • Open Net

๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Sri Lanka 

  • Hashtag Generation

๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan

  • Doublethink Lab

๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand 

  • Manushya Foundation 
  • Thai Netizen Network

๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam

  • Viet Tan 

๐ŸŒ Regional

  • ASEAN Youth Forum
  • EngageMedia

๐ŸŒ Global  

  • Access Now
  • ARTICLE 19
  • Association for Progressive Communications 
  • Global Voices Advox

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