Image for Your Voices Were Heard: ITU Makes Important Step Towards Transparency

Your Voices Were Heard: ITU Makes Important Step Towards Transparency

We’ve had some major victories lately in making sure that the rules around telecommunications keep public interest at the centre. You recently spoke out against Bell’s attempted takeover of Astral Media, and the CRTC listened, denying Bell and demonstrating its new citizen-centred focus. Today we’ve had some more great news about progress we’re making on an international level—because of the pressure you’ve put on your national representatives, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has decided to make all the proposals for its December negotiations public! The Internet freedom community—including citizens and organizations from around the world—has been speaking out about the closed nature of these negotiations, and demanding the multi-stakeholder input and public consultation that is so desperately needed in negotiations that could change the way the Internet works.

Until now, these documents had been available to the telecommunications industry and to ITU member states. However the ITU had put the onus on national governments to release the proposals to their citizens, and as this wasn’t really happening we were kept largely in the dark. And from leaked documents and the small amount of information available on the ITU website, we knew that there are some really concerning ideas being put forward.

Some countries have been using the ITU’s lack of transparency as an opportunity to attempt to legitimize undemocratic practices like censorship and control over citizens’ Internet access, and to promote mandatory cross-border information sharing, creating major privacy concerns. There are also proposals that will be particularly harmful to the developing world as they make accessing content more expensive.

You spoke out against the secrecy around these negotiations, and the ITU has responded, saying that there is “an overwhelming public interest case” for making the proposals public because “it is important when there is such a significant global discussion happening for all the facts to be on the table”.

The fight isn’t over yet, but this is a huge milestone and it couldn’t have happened without you. You moved the CRTC to keep citizen interests at the centre, and the ITU is feeling the pressure to do the same.

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