Internet freedom in the Networked Society
By 2015, almost the whole world will be connected – and that will be a driving force for change.
2011 will be remembered as the year of the Arab Spring. The political unrest and the mass protests started by people in the Middle East shared one common element: the use of mobile communications and social media to get information out to the rest of the world. In this way, technology supported freedom of speech and assembly.
And since the Arab Spring, we have all seen the power of technology – mainly the internet and mobile phones – as tools for democracy and change. But although telecom is a powerful enabler of freedom of expression, we need to be aware that it can also be misused by governments in ways that violate human rights.
The increased importance of communications networks to our societies, coupled with the rapid pace of change, means that the demand for cyber security has increased. It is now essential in ensuring the privacy of users as well as national security. These demands are all very real, but while society needs to address the need for security and privacy, it also needs to nurture the spirit of openness on the internet.
Yesterday, discussions about cyber security, privacy and openness took place at the opening of the Stockholm Internet Forum. These discussions were particularly interesting because they took place between governments, civil society and businesses. There was a genuine collective will to tackle the more complicated aspects of these issues.
In the Networked Society, change is taking place faster than ever. And as the leader in our industry we have certain responsibilities. As we engage in these very important discussions, I would like to echo the commitments made by our President and CEO Hans Vestberg about internet freedom at the Forum:
We will continue to innovate and develop solutions that enable communication for all, thereby supporting the rights that we are all entitled to – education, health care and freedom of expression;
As the leader in our industry, Ericsson will continue to actively work with human rights from a policy perspective, and through due diligence, throughout our business operations;
And we recognize the importance of a common industry approach and, perhaps more importantly, the need to engage in multi-stakeholder dialog. It will not be one company, organization or government that will solve this issue.
The value of this multi-stakeholder approach was highlighted in the panel session on Internet freedom and responsible business practice I was on this morning. Through lively debate many points of view were shared and challenging issues addressed.
I encourage you to follow the Stockholm Internet Forum online and be a part of this important discussion.