South Africa says no thanks to Internet freedom in UN vote

South Africa has tried to remove provisions from a United Nations resolution that would prevent countries from switching off the Internet for any reason, The Register reported.

Following the passing of the resolution, freedom of expression organisation Article 19 expressed disappointment with South Africa.

“Democracies like South Africa, Indonesia, and India voted in favour of these hostile amendments to weaken protections for freedom of expression online”, said Article 19.

The resolution was titled “The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet”, and was adopted when more than 70 states supported it on 1 July.

States are bound to refrain from “measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online”.

This includes measures to shut down the Internet or part of the Internet at any time, such as during an election or in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, said Article 19.

South Africa votes against Internet for all

A “human rights-based approach” was also included in the resolution, to provide and expand access to the Internet.

South Africa was one of 15 countries that voted in favour of an amendment led by China and Russia to have this section removed.

Other countries which voted with South Africa included Burundi, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

South Africa votes against human rights online

Another amendment aimed to remove references to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and language on freedom of expression from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

States voting in favour of the amendment included South Africa, Bolivia, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

The full resolution is available on Article 19’s website.

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