On Thursday, the European Commission joined the United States and 32 other countries from around the globe in putting forward a Declaration for the Future of the Internet. The joint Declaration, which has so far been supported and signed by more than 60 countries, calls for future for an “internet that is open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure and affirm their commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online and across the digital world.”
According to the signatories, the Declaration sets out a vision and general, global principles for ensuring that the internet remains a safe, open, secure, and trusted space for all actors.
According to the Commission, the Declaration is heavily based on its January proposal for a Declaration on digital rights and principles for everyone in the European Union.
Speaking virtually at the launch event in Washington, European Commission Executive Vice-President and digital policy chief, Margrethe Vestager, said that “faced with corporate power and state power, Europe’s approach to the Internet is based on a clear guideline: people’s power. Our vision is a global, open Internet where people can freely express themselves and companies have a chance to compete and innovate.” The comment was echoed by her colleague Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, who added that “online, as well as offline, people should be free, safe and empowered to pursue their aspirations. This is in Europe’s DNA and we are committed to […] ensure that the internet and the use of digital technologies reinforce, not weaken, democracy and respect for human rights.”
From a European perspective, the Declaration comes only days after the European Parliament and EU Member States reached landmark agreements on new rules for the digital economy and online content through the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts.
It also comes on the heels of announcement that Tesla owner Elon Musk agreed to purchase Twitter, and the associated free speech and content moderation concerns this would entail for platform users.