In the wake of the controversial law commonly called ACTA, the Maltese government has undertaken a public consultation exercise in order to enshrine “digital rights” in our Constitution. Currently, these rights are known to be the following:
- The right to internet access
- The right to access information online
- The right to online freedom of expression
- The right to exchange information online
The consultation is slated to close at the end of November. Although these are being referred to as digital rights, the plan is to place them in the Chapter of the Constitution outlining the country’s general principles. Minister Austin Gatt stated that the importance of enshrining these principles is that they would bind and guide governments both present and future to recognise the realities of our modern world which is so heavily influenced by technology.
Discussions to implement these rights came about during a heated parliamentary debate in February 2012 regarding ACTA and the issue of digital rights. Claudio Grech, chairman of the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) has welcomed the introduction of such rights citing that the use of information technology in Malta has grown exponentially over recent years. He stated further that as matters stand, more than 75% of households in Malta use broadband internet and 98% of business are outfitted with an internet infrastructure.
Grech stated further that the importance of this change in the Constitution is that it should discourage any legislature from introducing laws that would unnecessarily limit internet access to individuals.
The White Paper being introduced can be found here.
For further information on ICT Law, kindly contact GVZH here.