Public Knowledge Urges UN Agency to Avoid Limiting Free Speech, Open Internet in Privacy Discussions

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Today, Public Knowledge signs a joint statement with Access Now and ARTICLE 19 on privacy policy discussions taking place at the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The WTDC, as part of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at the United Nations, outlines the strategies and objectives for the global development of information and communications technologies.

In a range of proposals on cybersecurity and other topics at the WTDC, Brazil, Mexico, the regional group of Arab States and the regional group formed by Russia and many former Soviet republics have all suggested that the ITU should expand its mandate and propose a privacy-related global regulatory framework. Public Knowledge contends that any major privacy policies should develop in more open forums to avoid restricting the Open Internet and free speech.

The following can be attributed to Gus Rossi, Global Policy Director at Public Knowledge:

“We’re concerned by proposals to make the ITU, a United Nations agency, a key international forum for addressing privacy rules, because the ITU does not offer an open or inclusive environment to conduct this work. The structure and mandate of the ITU render an environment that does not have the capacity or expertise to regulate privacy. We urge governments around the world to instead turn to bilateral and multilateral agreements, national laws, and other frameworks to strengthen privacy rules without risking the Open Internet or free expression.”

The following can be attributed to the joint statement by Public Knowledge, ARTICLE 19 and Access Now:

“Any discussion of the regulatory or policy aspects of privacy must be driven by the public interest, which should be determined through a human rights framework. These discussions must be conducted in open and transparent forums. The ITU, however, is neither an open forum, nor one that is specialized to address privacy. [The ITU] must abstain from further mandate expansion.”

You may view the joint statement here. You may also view it in Portuguese.

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