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Google Warns Secretive Government Group Could Kill Open Web

V3 reporter Shaun Nichols
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censored-web-globeGoogle has slammed an upcoming meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), set for Dec. 3 in Dubai, which the company says will give governments the chance to set new regulations without input from citizens and user advocacy groups.

"Only governments have a voice at the ITU," the company said. "This includes governments that do not support a free and open internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote."

The comments were posted to Google's new Take Action portal, as part of its #freeandopen campaign. The site encourages users to take part in governance efforts and make their voices heard through various campaigns aimed at stopping web censorship and takedown efforts.

Google has seen itself at the center of a number of government censorship and takedown efforts. The company recently disclosed that it had received some 20,000 requests for user data in the first six months of 2012, with the U.S. as the top applicant.

Google warned that meetings such as the ITU conferences could allow government organizations to side-step the democratic process and apply even tighter controls on the web behind closed doors. The ITU exists under the umbrella of the United Nations.

"Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access," Google argued. "Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets."

The ITU refuted the idea that they want to increase censorship and regulate the Internet in a blog post:

Google has also incorrectly stated, on its official website, that governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct the Internet’s future.

The so-called closed-door meeting is however inclusive of 193 national delegations which are participating in WCIT-12. In addition, ITU is pleased to note that private sector companies and civil society organizations have registered to attend WCIT-12 in large numbers.

The United States, where Google itself is headquartered, has confirmed more than 125 people in its delegation to WCIT-12, with a large majority of these delegates representing the private sector and civil society.

It is interesting to note that Google representatives are part of the United States delegation.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament is so concerned that it passed a resolution opposing any ITU assertion that it should control the Internet, the Inquirer reported.

This article was originally published on V3.


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