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The European Union, the US and 32 other countries have just announced their 'Declaration for the Future of the Internet'.

The European Union, the US and 32 other countries have just announced their 'Declaration for the Future of the Internet'.

The United States, all EU member states and 32 non-EU countries have declared a "Declaration for the Future of the Internet" that seeks to establish an "open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure" Internet. Outlines priorities. determines. It highlights goals such as affordability, net neutrality, and removing illegal content without reducing free expression – although it does provide few details on how to achieve them.

The three-page declaration, summarized by the White House and the European Commission, offers a broader view of the net as well as a mix of more specific issues for its 61 signatories. The document begins, "We are united by our belief in the potential of digital technologies to promote connectivity, democracy, peace, the rule of law, sustainable development and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms." But "access to the open Internet is limited by some authoritarian governments and online platforms and digital tools are being used to suppress freedom of expression and deny other human rights and fundamental freedoms."

The declaration stressed that the Internet should be decentralized and globally interconnected, and added that countries "should avoid undermining the technical infrastructure necessary for the general availability and integrity of the Internet." It is an implied prohibition of "splinternet", an internet fragmented by countries banning services and shutting down online access. This is a counterpoint to the approach of countries such as Russia and China (neither of which are signatories), which have highly restricted access to foreign sites and apps. It also denies unsuccessful Ukrainian requests to separate Russia from global domain services.

The document's discussion of privacy and security reflects steps that the EU has taken in particular in recent years, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), to remove illegal content and impose more obligations for web services. to stop. harm to users. It condemns the use of "algorithmic tools or techniques" for surveillance and harassment, including social credit scorecards - a concept that the European Union legislated after becoming ubiquitous in China.

The signatories also agree to uphold the principles of net neutrality and "abstain from blocking or abusing access to legitimate content, services and applications on the Internet", although it does not discuss laws that allow private Internet service providers to allow to do so. can stop. It is unclear how this language will sync up with signatory rules such as the UK's Online Safety Bill, which requires companies to reduce the visibility of "legal but harmful" online content.

Most theories cover well-trodden grounds, but some details are less closely linked to contemporary regulatory debate. For example, the signatories agree to cooperate on "reducing the environmental footprint of the Internet and digital technologies as much as possible." This commitment may come into play as nations explore regulating and adopting cryptocurrencies, which are often energy-intensive. Despite its name, however, the declaration is so broad that it doesn't tell us much about how countries will shape the future of the Internet – at least not much by their regulation.

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