Google hits out ITU and campaigns for open internet

26 November 2012 | Kavit Majithia


Ahead of the upcoming UN World Conference on international telecommunications, internet giant Google are asking users to support a campaign for free and open internet.

Reports say Google have hit out against “a growing backlash on internet freedom”, and the company has urged the UN to re-negotiate a decades old communications treaty that could increase censorship and threaten innovation.

Google further suggested that the ITU is not the best means to make decisions for the future of the internet largely because only governments have a bigger voice at the conferences, and it gives limited scope for firms to air views.

Google launched an online campaign which aims to generate support for free and open internet, and warned some proposals from governments promoted censorship and threatened the freedom of free speech. “The ITU is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty,” said Google. “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 ITU has conceded that a new agreement is required to ensure free flowing information around the world to support modernisation and market growth.

“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,” said Hamadoun Touré, ITU secretary general.

Google’s move follows moves by Russia to restrict access to a selection of internet content.