The Internet empowers everyone — anyone can speak, create, learn, and share. It is controlled by no one — no single organization, individual, or government. It connects the world. Today, more than two billion people are online — about a third of the planet. But not all governments support the free and open Internet.
There is a growing backlash on Internet freedom. Forty-two countries filter and censor content. In just the last two years, governments have enacted 19 new laws threatening online free expression.
Some of these governments are trying to use a closed-door meeting in December to regulate the Internet. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to re-negotiate a decades-old communications treaty. Proposed changes to the treaty could increase censorship and threaten innovation.
Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech — or even allow them to cut off Internet access. Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information — particularly in emerging markets.
The ITU is the wrong place to make decisions about the future of the Internet. Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote.
The ITU is also secretive. The treaty conference and proposals are confidential. Internet policy should work like the Internet — open and inclusive. Governments alone should not determine the future of the Internet. The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, and the experts that build and maintain it, should be included.
For example, at the Internet Governance Forum, anyone can attend and anyone can speak — a government official has the same influence as an individual.
People around the world are standing up for freedom. Users, experts and organizations from around the world have voiced their opposition to governments regulating the Internet through the ITU.
Add your voice in support of the free and open Internet:
“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.”