November 26, 2022

African nations of Kenya, Senegal, Niger and Cabo verde join United States and over 50 other countries to launch declaration for the future of the Internet amid rising digital authoritarianism, say Internet should be open, free and secure, and used to promote ‘democracy’, ‘peace’, ‘connectivity’, ‘rule of law’

President Joe Biden departs with fellow panelists Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, left, and President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba after delivering remarks at a session on “Action on Forests and Land Use”, Tuesday, November 2, 2021, during the COP26 U.N. Climate Change Conference at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
President Joe Biden departs with fellow panelists Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, left, and President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba after delivering remarks at a session on ÒAction on Forests and Land UseÓ, Tuesday, November 2, 2021, during the COP26 U.N. Climate Change Conference at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 09:42 am

African nations of Kenya, Senegal, Niger and Cabo verde on Thursday joined the United States and more than 50 other countries to launch the declaration for the future of the Internet, a tool that has become so indispensable to life and democracy that it is often compared to electricity and other basic amenities.

The countries acknowledged that while the Internet has been revolutionary and 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, it has also created serious policy challenges.

“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. 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 countries wrote in their declaration.

“We call for a new Declaration for the Future of the Internet that includes all partners who actively support a future for the Internet that is an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure. We further affirm our commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online and across the digital ecosystem. Partners in this Declaration intend to work toward an environment that reinforces our democratic systems and promotes active participation of every citizen in democratic processes, secures and protects individuals’ privacy, maintains secure and reliable connectivity, resists efforts to splinter the global Internet, and promotes a free and competitive global economy. Partners in this Declaration invite other partners who share this vision to join us in working together, with civil society and other stakeholders, to affirm guiding principles for our role in the future of the global Internet,” they added.

Declaration-for-the-Future-for-the-Internet-finalDownload

Countries that endorsed the declaration for the future of the Internet included the United States, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, as well as the European Commission.

“Globally, 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. At the same time, millions of people still face barriers to access and cybersecurity risks and threats undermine the trust and reliability of networks,” the U.S. government wrote in a factsheet.

It said the Declaration represents a political commitment among Declaration partners to advance a positive vision for the Internet and digital technologies. “It reclaims the promise of the Internet in the face of the global opportunities and challenges presented by the 21st century. 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. The Declaration’s principles include commitments to:

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  • 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 multistakeholder approach to governance that keeps the Internet running for the benefit of all. In signing this Declaration, the United States and partners will work together to promote this vision and its principles globally, while respecting each other’s regulatory autonomy within our own jurisdictions and in accordance with our respective domestic laws and international legal obligations.

Over the last year, the United States has worked with partners from all over the world – including civil society, industry, academia, and other stakeholders to reaffirm the vision of an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet and reverse negative trends in this regard. Under this vision, people everywhere will benefit from an Internet that is unified unfragmented; facilitates global communications and commerce; and supports freedom, innovation, education and trust.

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