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November 23, 2012

Google launches campaign for free internet ahead of UN meet

Google has also launched an online campaign asking users for their support for the 'free and open Internet'

By CBR Staff Writer

Search giant Google has warned that the upcoming United Nation’s (UN) World Conference on International Telecommunications (Wcit) in Dubai to ‘re-negotiate a decades-old communications treaty’ could ‘increase censorship and threaten innovation’.

As part of the move, Google has also launched an online campaign asking users for their support for the ‘free and open Internet.’

Google said that the December meeting of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union comes in the midst of ‘a growing backlash on Internet freedom.’

"The [UN agency] International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty," Google said.

"Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech – or even allow them to cut off internet access.

"Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information — particularly in emerging markets."

The search engine firm also alleged that the ITU is not the exact place for making decisions about the future of the Internet, as only governments have a voice at the conference, while the firms will not have chance at the conference.

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"Governments alone should not determine the future of the Internet," Google said.

"The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, and the experts that build and maintain it, should be included."

Google’s move follows Russia’s submission of its proposal to the ITU, frustrating strong reactions from some online campaigners.

However, ITU had revealed that that a new agreement has been required to assure the free flow of information around the world,supporting access for all and laying the foundation for the ongoing modernisation and market growth.

ITU secretary general Dr Hamadoun Touré said that the agency is adamant that freedom of access and expression on the Internet which no-one can take away; on the other hand, any new International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) should reinforce this.

"Freedom of expression and the right to communicate are already enshrined in carefully crafted international treaties, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Such treaties are universal, and indisputable," Touré said.

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