Governments of the US, EU member states, and 32 other countries have announced the launch of the “Declaration for the Future of the Internet,” a “political commitment” among endorsers “to advance a positive vision for the internet and digital technologies.”
“We are united by a belief in the potential of digital technologies to promote connectivity, democracy, peace, the rule of law, sustainable development, and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the declaration began. “As we increasingly work, communicate, connect, engage, learn, and enjoy leisure time using digital technologies, our reliance on an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet will continue to grow. Yet we are also aware of the risks inherent in that reliance and the challenges we face.”
The White House and the European Commission summarized the three-page proposition and invited other countries to sign. To date, the countries that endorse the declaration are Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, the European Commission, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Palau, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Uruguay.
The declaration is a “political commitment” among endorsers to “advance a positive vision for the Internet and digital technologies.” It is a reaffirmation for endorsers that they’re committed to respecting and preserving human rights online across digital ecosystems and committing to “a single global internet” that fosters the following principles:
- 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.
A single, global internet rejects the idea of restricted internet access—a “splinternet”—that regimes like Russia, China, and North Korea (all of whom did not sign the declaration) have implemented in their own countries. Splinternets are heavily regulated, and governments can pick and choose what they want their citizens to see and not see.
While every country is working towards the common goal of building a better internet and online experience for everyone, now and in the future, the Declaration allows member countries to be autonomous in creating their own laws and policies to uphold the above principles.
“We believe that the principles for the future of the Internet are universal in nature and as
such we invite those who share this vision to affirm these principles and join us in the implementation of this vision,” the declaration concludes.