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Global survey on Internet privacy and freedom of expression

This publication seeks to identify the relationship between freedom of expression and Internet privacy, assessing where they support or compete with each other in different circumstances. The book maps out the issues in the current regulatory landscape of Internet privacy from the viewpoint of freedom of expression. It provides an overview of legal protection, self-regulatory guidelines, normative challenges, and case studies relating to the topic.

With this publication UNESCO aims to provide its Member States and other stakeholders, national and international, with a useful reference tool containing up-to-date and sharp information on emerging issues relevant to both developed and developing countries. Multiple stakeholders, preferably in dialogue, can use it in their own spheres of operation, adapting where appropriate from the range of experiences as recorded in these pages. The publication also supplies additional sources of reference for interested readers to use to further investigate each of the subjects highlighted.

The publication explores a range of issues, such as:

  • threats to privacy that have developed through the Internet,
  • international legal standards on privacy and responses to these emerging issues,
  • complex intersections between the rights to privacy and freedom of expression,
  • UNESCO recommendations to states and corporations for better practice,
  • overview of literature, background material and tools on international and national policy and practice on privacy and freedom of expression on the Internet.

In the coming years, UNESCO will specifically seek to disseminate information about good practices and international collaboration concerning the points of intersection between freedom of expression and privacy. Research on safeguarding the principle of freedom of expression in Internet policy across a range of issues will continue to be part of UNESCO’s normative mandate and technical advice to stakeholders.


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Executive summary

  1. Introduction
  2. Global overview of challenges and opportunities for privacy protection on the Internet
  3. The global legal and regulatory environment for protection of privacy
  4. Conclusions – intersections between privacy and freedom of expression
  5. Policy recommendations
  6. Useful resources

Download (French)

Download (Arabic)


This publication was first printed in English thanks to the contribution of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), which has also made possible its translation into Arabic and French.

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