The Internet has been an amazing example of people power -- allowing us to connect, speak out and pressure leaders like never before. That's largely because it's been governed to date by users and non-profits and not governments. But now countries like Russia, China and United Arab Emirates are trying to rewrite a major telecom treaty called the ITR to bring the Internet under its control -- the web would then be shaped by government interests and not by us, the users. Tim Berners Lee, one of the "fathers of the Internet," has warned that this could increase censorship online and invade our privacy. But if we object with a massive people-powered petition, we can strengthen the hand of countries fighting this power grab.
We have stopped attacks like this before and can do it again before the treaty text is locked this week. A wave of opposition to a new ITR is already building -- sign the petition to tell governments hands off our Internet! and then forward this email to everyone you know -- when we hit 1 million signers, it'll be delivered straight to the delegates at this cozy meeting:
The meeting to update the ITR (International Telecommunication Regulations) is being convened by a UN body called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Normally, it wouldn't merit much attention, but Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and others are trying to use the meeting to increase government control of the Internet through proposals that would allow for access to be cut off more easily, threaten privacy, legitimize monitoring and traffic-blocking, and introduce new fees to access content online.
At the moment, our Internet has no central regulatory body, but various non-profit organisations work together to manage different technological, commercial and political interests to allow the Internet to run. The current model is certainly not without its flaws. US dominance and corporate influence highlight the need for reform, but changes should not be dictated from an opaque governments-only treaty body. They should emerge from an open and transparent, people-powered process -- putting the interests of us users in the center.
The ITU does extremely important work -- expanding affordable access for poor countries and securing networks -- but it's not the right place to make changes to how the Internet operates. Let's ensure that our Internet stays free and governed by the public and show the ITU and the world that we won't stay silent in the face of this Internet attack. Click below to sign and then share this email widely:
Avaaz members have come together before to save the free web -- and won. More than 3 million of us demanded the US kill a bill that would have given the government the right to shut down any website, helping push the White House to drop its support. In the EU, the European Parliament responded after 2.8 million of us called on them to drop ACTA, another threat to the free net. Together, now we can do it again.
Pascal, Ian, Paul, Luca, Caroline, Ricken, Kya and the rest of the Avaaz team
Cerf and Berners Lee Criticize ITU Conference (IT Pro Portal):
ITU and Google face off at Dubai conference over future of the internet (Guardian):
Keep the Internet Open (New York Times):
Proposal for global regulation of web (Financial Times):
Who controls the Internet? (Guardian):