June 27, 2022

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Multiple nations have banded together and signed a political declaration to push for rules for the Internet – underpinned by democratic values.

Over 60 countries signed this declaration, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, the European Commission, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Taiwan, Japan, the Netherlands, and Ukraine, to name but a few.

It seeks to protect human rights, promote free flow of information, protect the privacy of users, and sets rules for a growing global digital economy.

WWW, Internet © beboy Shutterstock 2012

Internet declaration

However there was notable countries not among the signatories, including Russia, China, South Africa, and India.

The declaration is a modified version of the White House’s efforts from last year to create a coalition of democracies centred around a vision for an open and free web.

The commitment said the Internet provides “unprecedented opportunities for people around the world to connect and to express themselves, and continues to transform the global economy, enabling economic opportunities for billions of people.”

But it notes that it also creates serious policy challenges, as around the world “we are witnessing a trend of rising digital authoritarianism where some states act to repress freedom of expression, censor independent news sites, interfere with elections, promote disinformation, and deny their citizens other human rights.”

This declaration represents a political commitment among the signatories “to advance a positive vision for the Internet and digital technologies.”

It also “reaffirms and recommits its partners to a single global Internet – one that is truly open and fosters competition, privacy, and respect for human rights.”

Specific committments

The Declaration’s principles include the following commitments:

  • Protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people;
  • Promote a global Internet that advances the free flow of information;
  • Advance inclusive and affordable connectivity so that all people can benefit from the digital economy;
  • Promote trust in the global digital ecosystem, including through protection of privacy; and
  • Protect and strengthen the multi stakeholder approach to governance that keeps the Internet running for the benefit of all.
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The Declaration comes as Russia continues its illegal invasion of Ukraine, and the Russian state and its backers carry out waves of cyberattacks against Ukraine.

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