The Freedom Online Coalition is a group of governments who have committed to work together to support Internet freedom and protect fundamental human rights – free expression, association, assembly, and privacy online – worldwide.
The Coalition was established in 2011 at the inaugural Freedom Online Conference in The Hague, the Netherlands at the initiative of the Dutch Foreign Ministry. Today the Coalition has 30 members, spanning from Africa to Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East.
All member states signed the FOC founding document (Freedom Online: Joint Action for Free Expression on the Internet) and committed to the principle that the human rights people have offline are the same online.
At a time when repression on the Internet is increasing and associated policy issues have become one of the most intensely discussed international issue, the Coalition has a vital role to play in promoting the values of democracy and human rights online.
The Coalition members coordinate their diplomatic efforts, share information on violations of human rights online and work together to voice concern over measures that curtail human rights online. The Coalition also collaborates by issuing joint statements, by sharing policy approaches to complex issues, exchanging views on strategy, and planning participation in relevant forums.
Additionally, the Coalition provides a platform for multistakeholder engagement, which is also recognized in its founding declaration. The Coalition has made continuous efforts to engage civil society and the private sector in a constructive dialogue on pressing issues related to Internet freedom and digital right and has grown into a unique avenue for direct engagement with high-level government representatives. The Coalition encourages member states to engage with companies domestically to discuss human rights challenges faced by the ICT sector at the national level.
Once a year, the FOC holds a multi-stakeholder conference that aims to review developments and deepen the discussion on how freedom of expression on the Internet can help to promote democracy, human rights, and social, cultural and economic development. After the launch conference in The Hague 2011, annual Internet Freedom Conferences followed in Nairobi 2012, Tunis 2013, Tallinn 2014, Ulaanbaatar 2015 and San Jose 2016.
The last conference was hosted by the Costa Rican government in San Jose in October 2016.
Alongside these annual senior-level meetings, members of the Coalition regularly meet informally as governments and in consultation with other stakeholders at numerous conferences and intergovernmental meetings relevant to Internet freedom. These meetings serve as an opportunity to coordinate viewpoints, share relevant information, and discuss strategies to advance an open Internet in each context. The member countries have committed to working closely together in international fora to assure as much support for human rights online as possible.
The FOC has launched a monthly newsletter covering a range of issues relevant to internet freedoms and freedom of expression. This newsletter consists of a news digest from the past month, upcoming events in the month ahead and updates on Coalition activities, including information on the Working Groups. This newsletter can be found in the Related Links box to the right -hand side of this page.
Through the Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP), several Coalition countries support innovative solutions to the protection of bloggers and online activists in danger and provide quick support in response to a range of emerging threats to Internet freedom. DDP is managed by the Dutch NGO Hivos and invests in organisations and individuals working on solutions to digital threats faced by journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders.