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Google backs the open internet

Warns against closed door ITU meeting
Thu Nov 22 2012, 09:39
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INTERNET GIANT Google is warning internet users about a closed door meeting at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that could limit web freedoms.

Google has created a splash website called "Take Action" where it warns internet users about organisations and governments that want to tighten their control of the internet, increase censorship and threaten innovation.

"The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to re-negotiate a decades-old communications treaty," it says in protest against the ITU's 3 December meeting.

"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 firm has stepped into the web censorship debate before, most recently when it protested against SOPA, the US Stop Online Piracy Act.

Then as a vote on SOPA drew near it blacked out its name on its search page and pointed users to a simple message, "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!. End piracy, not liberty."

Now Google is fighting to keep talks out in the open and make them include all relevant parties. It said that the ITU is not the place to discuss ihternet governance, because it is too secretive and closed.

"Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote. The ITU is also secretive. The treaty conference and proposals are confidential," it said.

"Governments alone should not determine the future of the Internet. The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, and the experts that build and maintain it, should be included."

It asks website visitors to sign up for more information and "add their voice to the debate".

"More than 100 organisations from 50+ countries have raised concerns about an upcoming closed-door meeting in December in Dubai, where governments will consider proposals to increase regulation and censorship of the Internet," said a Google spokesperson.

"People can learn more about the issue on our website - and if they choose to do so, can pledge their support for a free and open Internet." µ


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