A statement full of good intentions, but will it have the desired effects knowing that some of the major digital players have skipped it?
The 27 countries of the European Union and 33 other countries have just announced the adoption and signing of a joint letter called “Statement for the future of the Internet”. This document must define a common guideline and vision that is supposed to support it. “openness, free, comprehensive, interoperability, reliability and security”From the web.
Among the independent signatories, we find especially the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom or Taiwan. But we also notice it some notable names are missing, starting with Russia and especially China. The full list is available here.
“The Internet has brought humanity together like never before”Explains Ursula Von Der Leyen, President of the European Commission. “Today, for the first time, countries with like-minded ideas are launching a shared vision of the future of the Internet to ensure that the values we love offline are also protected online, to make the Internet a safe place for people. . and ensure that the Internet serves our individual freedoms. Because the future of the Internet is also the future of democracy, of humanity”He concludes.
Rights and freedoms at the center of concerns
This democratic component, in fact, occupies a considerable place in the three pages of the text. The authors insist that the Internet must be absolutely a tool in the service of fundamental freedoms and rights as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
During the statement, its authors also expressed their “Strong concern about the repression of digital freedoms by some authoritarian governments”. A formula that is certainly enough to explain the absence of certain countries in the list of signatories. We can cite especially China, which has raised a real one lead rule in its digital ecosystem.
Xi Jinping’s country’s digital policy is more or less directly driven by many points in the statement. The text explicitly condemns “the use of digital tools to violate fundamental rights“i”the use of algorithmic tools or techniques“for monitoring and control purposes, including notorious ones”social credit systems”.
Unity above all else
A long passage is also reserved for the situation in Russia. Still stuck in his invasion of Ukraine that was to last. “three days”The Kremlin is desperately looking for other levers to put pressure on Europe, and cyberspace is one of them.
“There is a risk of Internet fragmentation, following threats from the Russian government”Explains the report. “This once again demonstrates the importance of stepping up the defense of a global, free Internet.”.
The signatories also agree to respect the concept of web neutrality. They must refrain from “block or prevent access to legitimate content, services and applications”; points that have traditionally posed problems in many countries, starting with the two mentioned above.
But while the initiative seems commendable, it will be interesting to see how this commitment can coexist with some local legislation. Especially because these famous criteria of “legitimacy”Are quite vague. The Virgin cites, for example, a specific example, the English online security law. This controversial text is intended to limit the scope and visibility of content. “legal but harmful”, Which, in a sense, can already be a joke in the passage quoted above.
Finally, signatories must also commit to “minimize the environmental impact of the Internet and digital technologies”. A measure of common sense that seems difficult to discuss; on the other hand, it will be very interesting to see what the scope of this text will be on the most delicate issues, especially insofar as some of the protagonists are missing.
The statement is available at the bottom of this page or directly in .pdf a this address.