Virtual launch of the Joint Statement on COVID-19 and Internet freedom

The virtual launch of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) Joint Statement on COVID-19 and Internet Freedom took place on Monday 8 June. The meeting gathered more than 50 participants from academia, civil society, governments and the private sector.

The event was moderated by Andrew Puddephatt, Head of the FOC Support Unit , and featured the following panelists:

  • Mr Mikko Kinnunen, Director General of the Political Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland; 
  • Mr Robert Destro, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the US Department of State; 
  • Ms Shelley Whiting, Director General of the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion at Global Affairs Canada; 
  • Ms Lisa Vermeer, Digital Policy Advisor at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law; and 
  • Mr Adeboye Adegoke, Programme Manager at Paradigm Initiative. 

The panelists discussed the importance of access to factual information and to open and reliable Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Kinnunen, Mr Destro and Ms Whiting emphasised the role of governments in fighting misinformation and systemic disinformation, and the digital divide. Ms Whiting further stressed that a gender perspective is integral to efficient government measures during the pandemic. Ms Vermeer pointed to emergency decrees and the need to make them temporary and lawful. In addition, Mr Adegoke underlined the role that the multistakeholder collaboration approach can play where governments lack the ability to understand digital issues, in particular in the African context. 

You can find a more detailed report here

You can find the recording of the virtual launch here.