26 Feb 2018

(Online) power to the people: Europe and the U.N. want to take back the internet

Europe and the United Nations have launched complementary projects aimed at reclaiming the internet’s early promise of a fair, open and democratic global communications platform -- and they’re seeking your input.

Janna Brancolini
Janna Brancolini Kheiro Magazine, Italy
Source: Kheiro Magazine
(Online) power to the people: Europe and the U.N. want to take back the internet - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

When the internet first exploded in the early 1990s, it was hailed as a revolution in cross-border communication and democratization of information. That dream has been derailed in recent years, however, by revelations of mass government surveillance, the emergence of corporate behemoths and their omnipotent algorithms, fake news epidemics and widespread online harassment.

Enter two key projects: Europe’s “Next Generation Internet” initiative, overseen by the Digital Single Market and European Commission, and the “Internet Universality Indicators” report managed by UNESCO, the U.N. body responsible for promoting international cooperation and access to education, science, culture and free expression.

The first aims to create a more “fair, inclusive and balanced internet” prioritizing privacy, data protection and transparency. With 615 million internet users, Europe represents the world’s largest online market. UNESCO, meanwhile, is committed to assessing and improving the internet’s openness, accessibility and role in promoting human rights.

Both organizations have recently published draft reports and are currently seeking public comment before finalizing their findings.

fake news, media

Details from the story:

  • In 2013 UNESCO developed the concept of “Internet Universality” to describe the ideal global internet landscape: one that enables rights, empowers individuals and communities, and facilitates sustainable development.
  • The organization has undertaken a project to establish “Internet Universality Indicators,” or concrete indicators that the internet is achieving these goals.
  • The draft version of the indicators was released at the end of 2017 and is open for public review and feedback until March 15.
  • In 2017, Europe’s Digital Single Market and the European Commission launched an E.U.-wide study called the “Next Generation Internet” to develop ways to “reset the power hiearchy” on the internet.
  • An interim Next Generation Internet report was issued in September and is also available for public review and feedback.
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