Google Alarmed by Secretive UN Conference

Dennis Faas's picture

Google is urging Internet users to join a campaign designed to discourage governments from wielding additional control over how the world wide web functions.

According to a recent report, the search giant fears an upcoming international communications conference could change worldwide rules that affect how websites are regulated.

The conference is being held by the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency that develops worldwide communications standards.

Conference Could Change Internet As We Know It: Google

Observers expect officials attending the conference will consider making changes to the current International Telecommunications Regulations treaty. The treaty was last revised in 1988, before the world wide web existed as we know it today.

Exactly what changes officials will discuss, let alone turn into new rules, is yet unknown. However, according to Google some of the rumored proposals could significantly change how we use the Internet.

For example, some proposals could allow governments more power to censor Internet content within their borders, cut off access to the Internet, or even charge a fee for website owners to make their sites and services accessible to people in other countries.

There's no way of knowing if any of these proposals will actually be put forward. Even if they are, it's hard for most experts to see the more radical ideas gaining enough support to change the treaty. (Source:

Google Wants Conference Open to Public

Nevertheless, Google says it remains concerned about the potential for mischief.

The firm is also objecting to the conference being closed to the public. As currently planned, the conference will take place behind closed doors, so the first the public will hear about any proposals may be after they become law.

Google argues this secrecy is contrary to the open spirit of the Internet. The company is starting an online petition asking people to sign their name to a statement reading:

"A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice." (Source:

If you're interested in signing Google's petition, then click here.

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