Standing up for Internet freedom against the ITU and WCIT 2012

The most important event in digital media in 2012--the US and 55 other nations standing up for internet freedom against the ITU, WCIT 2012--

Standing up for Internet freedom, in Israel and the world | The Times of Israel: "Israel sided with the US — and 54 other countries — against changes to an international treaty that, some fear, could limit private use of the Internet and provide a basis for regimes to prevent their citizens from freely accessing and posting material on the Internet. The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai last week ended with ratification of the treaty that encourages governments to take an active role to “foster an enabling environment for the greater growth of the Internet.” The changes to the treaty were approved by 89 countries. The changes were approved in a resolution attached to a treaty for members of the UN-sponsored International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The resolution (which is not binding on members) does not explicitly mention limiting or banning Internet content, but does call on governments to take an active role in “ensuring Internet access for the benefit of their citizens.” While the resolution’s language was innocuous enough, it was the interpretation of that language that worried the US and other Western countries. The resolution, said the US, seemingly gives a “carte blanche” to governments to determine what those “benefits” should be, without an objective standard of freedom of access; countries could decide that free access to information was not “beneficial” for their citizens. The resolution thus appeared to be the beginning of a “slippery slope” which, if allowed to progress to its logical conclusion, would put an end to the Internet as a forum for the free exchange of ideas and opinions. . . . After the US announcement, other countries — including Israel — announced that they would not endorse the amendment either. And with good reason, said Meital Schwartz of the Israel Internet Association (ISOC). That slippery slope is a lot steeper than most people think. “The resolution isn’t the only problem,” she told The Times of Israel. “The entire treaty plants the seeds for a UN takeover of the Internet.”. . . “The fact that 89 countries voted to allow governments to remove certain content indicates a worrying development for the cause of Internet freedom,” Schwartz added. “The vote results obligate Israel to continue to fight for a free and open Internet, for the benefit of all.”

Thank you to the US and all 55 other countries standing up for internet freedom--and Happy New Year!

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