Google is (finally) sounding the alarm bells that an upcoming United Nations-organized conference is a serious threat to the "free and open internet" we currently enjoy (well, in most countries in the world). Government representatives around the world will get together to try and hash out an agreement on a new information and communications treaty in December.
Google and plenty of Internet advocacy groups are concerned that the treaty will move the Internet's technical specifications and domain name system from independent U.S. organizations to an international organization where countries like Russia, China, and Iran (places where Internet freedom isn't a commodity) have the ability to shape policies and laws.
To fight against such a thing happening, Google is asking web users to add their name to an online petition at www.google.com.
"The [UN agency] International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty," it wrote on its Take Action web site. "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."
Google said its concern is that "only governments have a voice at the ITU" and not companies or others who have a stake in the internet. They concluded that the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (Wcit) is "the wrong place" to have decisions made about the internet's future.
The ITU says that the treaty Google is worried about would have to ensure "the free flow of information around the world, promoting affordable and equitable access for all and laying the foundation for ongoing innovation and market growth."
The ITU's secretary general has also said he will try to ensure that all decisions have unanimous support. One thing that should concern citizens is that fact the ITU is not openly publishing each government's proposals ahead of the conference..
You can read more about it here.
Image via Google.