The United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed a measure Thursday that recognizes the importance of allowing information to flow freely online across the Web.
Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt called the vote a “victory for the Internet” in an op-ed for the New York Times on Thursday.
“We cannot accept that the Internet’s content should be limited or manipulated depending on the flavor-of-the-month of political leaders. Only by securing access to the open and global Internet will true development take place,” he wrote.
The vote in Geneva on Thursday was a breakthrough of fundamental importance. Beyond affirming that freedom of expression applies also to the Internet, the resolution also recognized the immense value the Internet has for global development and called on all states to facilitate and improve global access to it.
We are rapidly entering into a new world of hyperconnectivity. Mobile data traffic alone is set to increase 15-fold in the next five years. It reaches everywhere, and we see the new networks challenging the old hierarchies everywhere.
The governments of the Human Rights Council now for the first time have confirmed that freedom of expression applies fully to the Internet. A global coalition for a global and open Internet has been formed.
This is truly important, but we must not stop here. The challenge now is to put these words into action to make sure that people all over the world can use and utilize the power of connectivity without having to fear for their safety. This work is far from over.