The Arab ICT Organization-IJMA3 represented by its Secretary General Nizar Zakka participated in the ICT conference “LOGIN2015", which was held on 7 and 8 May at Vilnius - Lithuania. This conference is considered one of the largest online communities and informational society in the Baltic States.
As a keynote speaker of the seminar on "Internet freedom and Economic Growth", IJMA3’s Secretary General Nizar Zakka briefed the attendees about the importance of internet freedom and its direct and positive impact on economic growth. During the course of the conference, Zakka said " The Internet is a human right which is not entitled to an infringement, either through cutting services or reducing speed, blocking sites, and other violations, and so we must do everything to protect our right: the internet freedom."
Zakka continued by saying, "We always link the freedom of the Internet with democracy, freedom, and economic growth. Moving from this point, IJMA3 has supported the establishment of the Arab Internet Freedom Alliance, which is a gathering of stakeholders from the civil society and the private sector from Arab countries, and plays the role of observer, in coordination and cooperation with national alliances, in all that would be issued as laws, regulations, or decisions and practices, or laws which are to be adopted which may limit access to Internet freedom. Of the different activities of the Arab Alliance is launching campaigns to stop, modify, or cancel what limit access to the Internet freedom. IJMA3 had already launched in 2011 "The Arab Internet Manifesto" in Syria within the activities of informatics week in the Middle East and North Africa- MENA ICT Week 2011. In 2013, IJMA3 launched the "Second Arab Internet Freedom Declaration”, also within the activities of informatics week conference in the Middle East and North Africa- MENA ICT Week 2013, held in Jordan back then.
Zakka added, "in reference to the Hague Convention-December 2011, IJMA3 put down a Charter dealing with the Internet, composed of seven principles of internet freedom; these are: 1. Commitment of all stakeholders where every person should enjoy the same protection online, as offline, as this is a basic human right. 2. Advocating for children online safety in line with universal human rights. 3. All stakeholders shall work faithfully to provide internet service with guaranteed minimum quality, adequate speed, fair price and reliable content, and assuring internet access without service interruption, prohibiting, filtering, etc., in addition to the social responsibility towards people with disabilities and marginalized society segments. 4. Promoting local content and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation to develop digital Arabic content to meet social and economic challenges in the region. 5. The need to preserve Internet freedom non-bargained under any name being linked with the capital flow to the Arab region and in conjunction with economic growth and development in the region, particularly being directly linked to the labor sector and provide employment opportunities for the Arab youth who enjoy high ICT qualifications and low average age. 6. the right of users to have the necessary untouchable protection of their personal data from availability, disclosure, trafficking even if free of charge. 7. The right of users not to be tapped without a reasonable prior judicial authorization.”
He explained, "Internet Freedom is a form of freedom of expression in general, while the freedom of Internet is a given in Europe and the United States, but is a less common practice in other parts of the world such as Iran, Syria, China, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates". Human rights and freedom of the Internet is always violated under the pretext of "protecting national interests or the protection of national security," and this can happen anywhere. There are many violations that are getting around the law because of unclear laws which could be interpreted in several different ways, and ultimately this leads to encroachment on the freedom of the Internet such as monitoring and cutting down the internet service as well as other violations."
However, he stressed that "Internet freedom in Lebanon is guaranteed well, as well as in Tunisia. But it is better to take action to ensure the freedom of the Internet since it is possible for any party in Lebanon to withhold or cut service or even detain bloggers for expressing their opinion." Zakka called that Lebanon becomes an example of the freedom of the Internet, such as Estonia, Australia, Hungary, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
On the other hand, Zakka noted that "restricting freedom of expression on the Internet can hinder e-commerce and Internet search and other aspects which are indispensable to the economy of the Internet and entrepreneurship. According to the World Bank, the countries that have a greater freedom of the Internet tend to be in a better ranking in terms of ease of doing business. "
Zakka displayed future steps to be taken to reduce non-intended consequences of cyber-security and the protection of Internet freedom, which will help to improve economic growth and promote entrepreneurship.
IJMA3’s Secretary General Nizar Zakka concluded by saying that "The Arab ICT Organization-IJMA3 and the Arab Internet Freedom Alliance-Haqouna will issue "the annual report of Internet freedom in the Arab world , during the month of September of 2015.