The Freedom Online Coalition is an informal coalition of 30 member countries spread across five continents. Its goal is to promote freedom and human rights in the digital age, above all freedom of opinion, privacy, freedom of assembly and freedom of information.
The coalition’s members coordinate their positions before any major internet events and international negotiations on human rights. They also regularly make public statements on current affairs. It is particularly important to the FOC to involve civil society, and its Annual Conferences, held in a different member country each year, are especially significant. The 2015 conference took place in Mongolia, the 2016 session in Costa Rica, and the 2017 meeting will be held in Sweden.
Germany has been a member of the FCO since 2013 and provides it with financial support. At the coalition’s last Annual Conference, the Federal Foreign Office was represented by Ambassador Thomas Fitschen, Director for International Cyber Policy. The Federal Foreign Office also plays an active role in the FOC’s core group, the Friends of the Chair.
The joint statement deals with state‑sponsored disruption of communication networks. Such measures are usually intended to prevent people accessing or disseminating critical information, through either landline or mobile networks. They often target particular sections of a country’s population and constitute a violation of their right not only to freedom of speech and information but also to freedom of association and assembly. However, the statement is not merely critical; it also contains five concrete proposals for improving policy.