Declaration for the future of the internet

30 Nov 2022 13:50h - 15:20h

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Born in response to alarming state behaviour online, the Declaration for the Future of the Internet aims to outline basic principles on how nation states should act in relation to the internet. The declaration is also presented as an effort to ensure that the internet remains an emancipatory force for good. 

Internet stakeholders have been struggling with challenging issues related to internet openness and safety, such as, but not limited to, ways to increase internet access while keeping it free of harmful and illicit goods; and ways to combat misinformation while upholding fundamental rights. A free, open, global, interoperable, dependable, and secure internet is the goal of the Declaration for the Future of the Internet (DFI), which was introduced on 28 April 2022, and supported by more than 70 countries. The DFI lays out core values that emphasise the internet’s enormously positive potential. A robust global internet will support democracies, foster social cohesion, and uphold fundamental rights while facilitating digitally-driven economic growth and development.

DFI supporters presented it as a response to alarming and concerning state behaviour in cyberspace, as well as internet fragmentation challenges. It aims to outline principles on how nation states should act in relation to the internet. This explains why the signatories are only countries; nevertheless, the declaration strongly supports multistakeholderism, as shown in the concluding paragraph. Translating the principles into concrete and enforceable actions requires a multistakeholder approach where all communities work together toward a shared goal to ensure a strong and resilient global internet. 

Multistakeholder approaches are needed to ensure that we use the internet’s full potential to build peace. However, some argue that we might need to rethink the multistakeholder model in order to ensure a proportional representation of both small groups and larger actors.

The declaration is also seen as an effort to ensure that the internet remains an emancipatory force for good. As such, and in the spirit of multistakeholderism, it was said that it would be good if non-state actors could also sign the declaration and contribute to its implementation towards addressing the risks and dangers of state power and action.

The Declaration for the Future of the Internet reclaims the potential of the internet through the power of principles, underlining that it is not the internet by itself, but the behaviour of states that should be regulated. The transition from principles to norms is a complex and long process; nevertheless, the power of regulation assists in this shift towards greater practice and meaningful accountability. 

The DFI is a starting point rather than an end goal that advances principles for state behaviour and aims at implementing norms for ensuring a well-functioning global internet capable to reinforce democracies, promote social cohesion, and protect universal rights while allowing for digitally spurred economic growth and development.

By Stefania Grottola

 

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