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EU and international partners put forward a Declaration for the Future of the Internet

The European Union, the United States, and several international partners yesterday proposed a Declaration for the Future of the Internet, setting out the vision and principles of a trusted Internet. Partners support a future for the Internet that is open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure and affirm their commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online and across the digital world. So far, 60 partners have endorsed the Declaration, including all EU Member States, and more countries are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks. The list of signatories is available here.

The Declaration for the Future of the Internet is in line with the rights and principles strongly anchored in the EU and builds on the Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles that the Commission has proposed to co-sign together with the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, yesterday said:

“The Internet has brought humanity together, like never before in history. Today, for the first time, like-minded countries from all over the world are setting out a shared vision for the future of the Internet, to make sure that the values we hold true offline are also protected online, to make the Internet a safe place and trusted space for everyone, and to ensure that the Internet serves our individual freedom. Because the future of the Internet is also the future of democracy, of humankind.”

The Declaration for the Future of the Internet was yesterday launched at a hybrid event in Washington, D.C., organised by the White House's National Security Council. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age and Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, participated via video conference.

The partners in the Declaration affirm that the Internet must reinforce core democratic principles, fundamental freedoms and human rights as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They share the belief that the Internet should operate as a single, decentralised network of networks, where digital technologies are used in a trustworthy way, avoiding unfair discrimination between individuals and allowing for contestability of online platforms, and for fair competition among businesses.

In launching this Declaration, the partners also express their strong concerns about the repression of Internet freedoms by some authoritarian governments, the use of digital tools to violate human rights, the growing impact of cyberattacks, the spread of illegal content and disinformation and the excessive concentration of economic power. They commit to cooperating to address these developments and risks. They also share the vision that digital technologies have the potential to promote connectivity, democracy, peace, the rule of law and sustainable development.

The current situation in Ukraine dramatically demonstrates the risk of severe disruption of the Internet, notably in the form of total or partial shutdowns. There is also a risk of fragmentation of the Internet, as the Russian government has been threatening to disconnect partially or totally from the global Internet, as well as of being misused, as there is currently a surge in cyberattacks, online censorship and disinformation. This shows once again the importance of stepping up our actions to defend the global open Internet, which is a driving force for the economies and societies worldwide.

Partners will work together to continue to deliver on the promise of connecting humankind and will translate the principles of the Declaration into concrete policies and actions, while respecting their regulatory autonomy. Other stakeholders will be invited, including from civil society and industry, to support the Declaration and facilitate its implementation. Partners will promote these principles globally, within the multilateral system.

Click here for the full press release


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