Monday, 19 November 2012

Free communication over the internet under threat?

The TUC's "Going To Work" web site is promoting a campaign to pressure governments attending the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) conference in Dubai this December to reject proposals for a new treaty that would restrict the freedom of internet users by giving governments and corporations the power to:

  • Restrict access to the internet to approved uses
  • Monitor everything you do online
  • Change the way we pay for the internet, potentially marginalising civil society and developing countries
The ITU is a United Nations (UN) Agency, and comprises both governments as members and big corporations.  Take a look at the list of corporate members of the ITU and if you work for a major IT or telecomms company there's a fair chance you'll see your own employer there.

As well as a number of free-speech and human rights groups, the International TUC is campaigning to prevent an alliance of governments such as China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, alongside big corporations, pushing through the new treaty.

What I find most disgraceful is the lack of publicity around a potential treaty with such implications.  Has there been any consultation with citizens or employees about what stance governments or corporations should take at the conference?  As in so much else, powerful people are trying to make important decisions far away from the public eye and with no accountability.

You can sign the online petition on the Going To Work web site, which also has further information.

In the video below Vint Cerf 'Father of the Internet', Paul Twomey Former Head of ICANN and Sharan Burrow General Secretary of the ITUC launch 'Stop The Net Grab' at the Foreign Press Association in London Monday 12 November 2012.

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