Australia joins dozens of countries committing to a ‘democratic’ internet

Home Science Australia joins dozens of countries committing to a ‘democratic’ internet
Australia joins dozens of countries committing to a ‘democratic’ internet

Australia is among 56 nations signing a political commitment to push for the future of the internet to be underpinned by democratic values, in the face of hostile internet policies from countries such as China and Russia.

The commitment — the first such effort of its kind, and known as the Declaration for the Future of the Internet — aims to protect human rights, promote the free flow of information, protect the privacy of users and set rules for a growing global digital economy.

Other countries taking part include Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States and Ukraine.

Australia’s ambassador for cyber affairs and critical technology, Tobias Feakin, told the official launch of the declaration that Australia was “genuinely proud” to be part of the declaration.

“We really must ensure that cyberspace reflects and is strengthened by human rights and liberal democratic values,” Dr Feakin said.

“It really needs to be resilient to those who would use digital technologies to undermine those rights and subvert those values.

A man, Dr Tobias Feakin, wearing a suit, stands and smiles at the camera.
Dr Feakin says the internet needs to protect human rights and democratic values(Supplied: DFAT)

“Over the last two decades, however, we have witnessed significant challenges to these values, and that is ongoing.

Dr Feakin said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its “blatant abuse” of cyberspace was a reminder that other nations must work together.

“We must come together through initiatives like this, united by a shared belief and the potential future of an internet that enables digital technologies to promote connectivity, sustainable development and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.

“We can achieve this by creating deeper trust in the global digital ecosystem — something states cannot do alone.”

A screenshot of more than a dozen people in separate locations holding up pieces of paper during an online video conference.
Representatives from many countries hold up signed copies of the Declaration for the Future of the Internet.(YouTube: The White House)

Concerns over web tactics of authoritarian countries

Since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has launched cyber attacks, including hacking into a satellite internet provider’s network at the beginning of the war.

Senior US officials said the United States was witnessing a global trend of rising digital authoritarianism, with countries such as Russia repressing freedom of expression, censoring independent news sites, interfering with elections, promoting disinformation and denying their citizens other human rights.

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