Internet under threat: Plea to UN Secretary-General to reject changes to online governance

The global labour movement and Greenpeace today joined forces to urge UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reject changes to internet governance that would change forever the internet as we know it.

Telecommunications ministers from 193 countries will meet behind closed doors in Dubai next month to discuss a new regulatory regime for the Internet.

The International Trade Union Confederation and Greenpeace are expressing deep concern that the proposed changes would lead to an upsurge of government internet control and censorship.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said that in the interests of freedom of speech and freedom of association, a multi-stakeholder approach was needed.

“There have been world summits on these issues before. In 2005, Heads of State and Government decided to retain a multi-stakeholder approach to internet governance.

“The danger for the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) is that certain governments will attempt to undermine the multi-stakeholder approach behind closed doors and without full transparency.

“There is a great deal at stake, which is why we are writing to the UN General Secretary to alert him to the risks:

If accepted, the changes would allow:

- Government restriction or blocking of information disseminated via the internet
- Creation of a global regime of monitoring internet communications, including the demand that those who send and receive information identify themselves
- Requirement that the internet only be used in a ‘rational’ way
- Governments to shut down the internet if there is the belief that it may interfere in the internal affairs of other states or that information of a ‘sensitive nature’ might be shared

Introduction of a new pricing regime which would slow down internet growth, especially in the poorer countries.

“An internet totally controlled by government and big business contradicts the very essence of what the internet represents – open and free access for all. These are hugely important issues, which should be dealt with in an open, transparent and inclusive way,” said Ms Burrow.

The ITUC will launch its international campaign ‘Stop the Net grab’ in London Monday.

See the Letter to ban Ki Moon

Transparency International blog post on the ITU and internet freedom

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