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Call to Action: Help Defend the Open Internet

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Access Now and Fight for the Future invite the citizens from around the world to join the action to defend the open internet, fearing the threat of several proposals that were filed for adoption at the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), to be held December 3 – 14, in Dubai.

“We love the internet. And we’re guessing you do too. Think about all the awesome things it gives us: A vast communication network; innovative businesses; a platform to freely speak or challenge powerful governments; and hundreds and hundreds of hours of cat videos. All this great stuff is available because the internet was designed in an open and inclusive way, with a multitude of voices being able to get a say on how it’s governed”, states the call for action of the two organisations.

Access Now and Fight for the Future note that the proposals, if approved, will lead to a situation in which decisions about the internet would be made by a top-down, old-school government-centric agency behind closed doors. Some proposals allow for access to be cut off more easily, threaten privacy, legitimize monitoring and blocking online traffic. Others seek to impose new fees for accessing content, not to mention slowing down connection speeds.

“If the delicate balance of the internet is upset, it could have grave consequences for businesses and human rights”, the two organizations say.

Last month, Article 19, the leading freedom of expression organization in the world, prepared a legal analysis of the proposed changes to ITRs, focused on four key issues: First, the question of definitions and scope of the ITRs is reviewed. Second, proposals that would give greater control to the ITU over content-related aspects of Internet policy are examined. Third, the proposal of the European Telecoms Network Operators (ETNO) on new IP interconnection pricing scheme and its impact on net neutrality is reviewed. Fourth, a number of factors mitigating fears that the ITU might be overtaking the Internet are highlighted.

The analysis concludes that any and all references to Internet in the ITRs should be avoided and that content-related control has no place in the ITRs. Furthermore, Article 19 concludes that the ETNO proposal would undermine net neutrality. Regarding the fourth key issue, the analysis concludes that “whilst the ITU might not be overtaking the Internet just yet, some of the proposals that have been made give no ground for complacency on the part of civil society, governments and businesses who want to preserve our Internet freedoms.

You can read Article 19's legal analysis, with detailed elaboration and recommendations at the address www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/3483/12-10-19-LA-itu.pdf

Access Now and Fight for the Future note that, since only governments get a vote at WCIT, the people from all around the world will have to demand from their leaders to keep the internet open.

Access Now and Fight for the Future prepared a video which lists the dangers to the open internet posed by the proposed changes in the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) that will be reviewed at the WCIT in Dubai. You are invited to watch the video, and sign up for instructions what to do to tell your government to oppose handing over key decisions about the internet to the ITU. (The video has been subtitled in the languages of the region: BHSM, Macedonian, Albanian; and you can choose the respective subtitles in the Change Captions (CC) button on the YouTube viewer).

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