Is Your (Internet) Freedom at Risk?
International communication rules are undergoing changes, and Google and Mozilla aren’t happy about it. According to both tech leaders, the proposed changes might put your internet freedom at risk. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has finally gotten around to updating a treaty that hasn’t been touched in decades, but it’s too soon to tell just what kind of censorship will result. It gives governments the right to nix internet access altogether and block access to certain pages.
The biggest issue Mozilla has with the process is the secrecy. The ITU discussions are kept largely under wraps, which reeks of Big Brother tactics to many. Many people don’t even realize the changes are happening. Whether you own an SEO company or run an online florist, you might soon find your freedom of speech muffled.
A Leap Backwards
Government-sanctioned, closed discussions go roughly against the grain of the internet’s traditional open forum, says Mozilla’s Harvey Anderson. Of course, ITU has refuted Anderson’s claim and brushes off the changes as simply much-needed updates. It can’t be argued that a treaty which is decades-old isn’t in need of a review, but technology leaders are concerned with how the changes are forming.
There are definitely some rays of hope with these updates. The ITU is a United Nations (UN) entity, which means it must abide by rules concerning freedom of expression in media. ITU has stated that the changes concern affordable internet, roaming fees and security issues. Unfortunately for ITU, these details aren’t enough to satisfy concerned tech kings.
Consider the Past
The good news is that the ITU has a solid history free of any major gaffes. While the ITU insists that the purpose of the updates is to improve service and security, the Center for Democracy and Technology disagrees. One of the proposals, which addresses network data inspection, isn’t up to snuff according to some experts. However, the ITU hasn’t released any detailed statements or opened a forum for discussion.
Only time will tell the implications of the treaty changes. It’s taken the ITU decades to tackle the treaty, and there’s no telling when it will be looked at again. Mozilla and Google aren’t happy about the cloaked conversations, and the tech giants will surely have more to say once changes are implemented.
It’s been mentioned that the worst-case scenarios allow governments to completely cut citizens off from the internet, but the chances of this happening are slim. While it’s certain that there will be a few stories about the impact of the changes, life will likely go on as usual. Your web surfing will probably not be impacted, and this controversy will be swept under the rug.