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4 May 2022

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US, EU, and dozens of partners sign declaration about the future of the internet

The United States, the European Union, and sixty international partners have proposed a Declaration for the Future of the Internet. The document outlines the vision for a safe and secure Internet. The partners support a free, open, global, interoperable, dependable, and secure Internet, as well as the protection and respect for human rights online.

Policy issues

Digital economies have benefited greatly from the Internet. However, it has also created significant policy issues. Digital authoritarianism is on the rise throughout the world. This is because some governments suppress free speech, censor independent news sites, interfere with elections, spread disinformation, and deprive their citizens of other fundamental rights. At the same time, millions of individuals face access barriers, while cybersecurity risks and attacks threaten network trust and reliability.

Partners will reach out to more nations to include them in the declaration. All partners will join forces to create an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet. This will be done by reaching out to the private sector, international organizations, the technical community, academia, and civil society, as well as other relevant stakeholders around the world.

Online competition

Partners in the declaration affirm that Internet use should reinforce the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' core democratic principles and fundamental freedoms. They believe that the Internet should operate as a single, decentralised network of networks. This network should be used in a trustworthy manner, avoiding unfair discrimination between individuals, allowing for competitive online platforms, and allowing for fair competition between businesses.

This declaration also asserts the partners' deep concern over the repression of Internet freedoms by some authoritarian governments, the misuse of digital tools to violate human rights, the growing impact of cyberattacks, the spread of illegal content and disinformation, as well as the excessive concentration of economic power. They commit to working together to address these developments and risks. Additionally, they believe that digital technologies can promote connectivity, democracy, peace, the rule of law, and sustainable development.

Concrete policies and actions

In accordance with their regulatory autonomy, the partners will translate the principles of the declaration into concrete policies and actions. Participants from civil society and industry will be invited to support the declaration and facilitate its implementation. In order to achieve the vision of an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet, all partners will reach out to the private sector, international organisations, the academic community, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders worldwide.

During the summer of 2022, partners will discuss with the stakeholder community how the declaration and its principles can elevate and support the future of the global Internet. Workshops will be held in the following months on this topic. Even though the declaration and its guiding principles are not legally binding, they should be used as a reference point for policymakers, businesses, and civil society organizations.

Photo credit: John Schnobric

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