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Call For Leaders to Stand for an Open Internet

Global Netizens Mobilize, Call On Leaders to Stand for an Open Internet


www.whatistheITU.org


With only weeks to go before governments gather at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) — an event that could determine the future of the internet — tens of thousands have mobilized to demand that their leaders oppose handing over decisions about the net to a government-dominated UN agency called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU.)

Internet advocacy groups Access and Fight for the Future have launched whatistheITU.org, which features an informative video about the ITU and an action tool that allows users to challenge their governments directly to stand for an open internet. Since the site’s launch, people from over 150 countries have viewed the video and used the tool to contact their governments.

“Expanding the ITU’s mandate to empower it to make key decisions about the internet has the potential to endanger users’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy online, by fundamentally changing the way that internet policy is made in the future," said Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access.

Several governments with troubling records of censorship and human rights abuses have submitted proposals to the WCIT, but because of the agency’s closed nature, only some documents have been leaked. Some of these proposals could:
• Allow governments to cut off access to the internet for broadly and vaguely defined reasons
• Enable governments to monitor internet traffic, raising privacy concerns and possibly slowing down the global internet.
• Change the payment system for internet traffic, increasing profits for telecommunication companies while driving up the costs for internet users.
“Governments shouldn’t control the internet,” said Holmes Wilson of Fight for the Future, “It creates the potential for human rights abuses, media censorship, and surveillance that undermines democracy and free speech all around the world.”

The video on whatistheITU.org was created in collaboration with TED speaker and video remix artist Kirby Ferguson, and raises awareness about the possible expansion of the ITU’s mandate and the growing global movement for internet freedom.
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