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Open letter to G20 leaders calls for internet freedom and digital privacy

November 30th will mark the beginning of the 13th meeting of the Group of Twenty. This year, the G20 summit will be held in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. With just hours left until the summit gets underway, privacy advocates are flooding Twitter with calls for leaders to take heed of their pleas for digital privacy and internet freedom to be at the center of the debate.

Privacy experts, over 100 advocacy groups, and major internet stakeholders from around the world, are all throwing their weight behind a joint call to G20 leaders. The open letter has been published with the support and cooperation of organizations such as AccessNow, ACP, Digital Rights Watch, Privacy International, the World Wide Web Foundation, and many others. 

The website for the open letter campaign is appealing directly to government leaders to intensify their efforts to assure that the internet is not splintered and censored. Calling for people’s online freedoms to be at its very core. Campaigners are urging G20 leaders to remember that the internet is estimated to have contributed around $7 trillion per year to each G20 economy. 

“Today, G20 economies are digital, interconnected, and interdependent, however, coordinated policy commitments have not kept the pace with this reality.

“For the digital society to be open, safe, and empowering for everyone, policies for the digital age must be trusted and trustworthy – putting the interests of people and their rights first.”

GRIS Global tweet

Commit to progress

It is an unfortunate fact that many G20 countries have been edging their policies evermore in favor of privacy-eroding surveillance. Since the Edward Snowden revelations, public awareness of snooping has vastly increased. Despite this, governments in many G20 countries have been passing mandatory data retention laws, such as the UK's snooper's charter. In addition, many nations are pushing for the weakening of encryption that is fundamental to protecting people’s data

What's more, many countries are suffering from a lack of equality and connectivity, varying levels of censorship with restricted access to content and information, and an inability to freely express themselves online. The open letter addresses these key concerns, calling on G20 governments to:

“Work collaboratively with leaders from all stakeholder groups to adopt commitments that live up to not just the promise, but also their responsibility to ensure the evolving digital society supports a healthy web ecosystem and puts people first.”

Ethics ICT Africa Tweet

Key Battlegrounds

The Open Letter specifically calls on leaders to carefully consider the following criteria:

  • Meaningful access: We urge G20 members to invest significantly in expanding affordable Internet access for everyone, including through community networks, to boost economies and digital literacy programmes, empowering all individuals to reap the benefits of the digital age.

  • Privacy and data protection rights: We urge the G20 members to adopt, apply and enforce a comprehensive approach to privacy that protects all users’ privacy and personal data, whether citizens or not. People must be given more control and agency over their data.

  • Freedom of expression: We urge G20 members to promote freedom of expression online by adopting positions and policies that are consistent with maintaining an open internet for everyone.

  • Cybersecurity: We urge the G20 members to develop cybersecurity approaches in close collaboration with all stakeholders that protect human rights and values, and preserve the Internet as a global public resource. Promoting strong encryption is essential to both these aims.

  • Increased competition: We urge G20 members to ensure that competition in the digital economy is sustainable, that the market encourages new entrants and the interoperability of new services, and that consumers are protected from unfair practices."

Support the cause!

Here at BestVPN.com, our privacy experts and VPN reviewers are committed to helping people gain access to the internet with absolute freedom, not only in G20 countries, but everywhere around the globe. 

For this reason, we are joining countless privacy experts and advocacy groups in calling for the G20 host, Argentine President Mauricio Macri, to make internet freedom and digital privacy a priority at the forthcoming G20 summit. 

Promoting a free internet for all - where privacy is a central tenet and where the free flow of information, opinions, and ideas can help to counter extremism and oppression - has never been so important.

Anybody interested in supporting the cause can download the open letter here, and is encouraged to show their support for the campaign by tweeting the link for the website using the following message:

"#Privacy & #dataprotection rights: We urge the #G20 to adopt, apply and enforce a comprehensive approach to privacy that protects all users’ privacy and personal data, whether citizens or not. People must be given more control over their data. #G20openletter #G20summit "

Written by: Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh is one of BestVPN's resident VPN experts. Ray is currently ranked #1 VPN authority in the world by agilience.com. During his time at BestVPN.com Ray has reviewed some of the world's foremost VPNs. Ray is an advocate for digital privacy, with vast experience writing about the political and social aspects of infosec, cybersec, and data privacy. Find him @newsglug on Twitter.

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