Microsoft is supporting the White House in its signing of a new Declaration for the Future of the Internet, along with 60 other governments.
The declaration “reclaims the promise of the internet in the face of the global opportunities and challenges presented by the 21st century.”
“Almost three decades ago when I first joined Microsoft, we all looked at the internet and saw the promise of the digital age,” said Brad Smith, president and vice chair at Microsoft. “In hindsight, we were too absorbed by the internet’s promise and paid too little attention to the potential pitfalls and even perils that would lie ahead.
“We collectively did too little to solve problems when they were small, and we failed to foresee the potential use and abuse of the internet by the autocrats of the world. As we approach the start of the second quarter of the 21st century, digital technology has become both the world’s most powerful tool and most formidable weapon.”
The new declaration explicitly focuses on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted when the world’s nations came together in 1948. “Almost 75 years later, our generation is being put to a new test,” said Smith. “The war in Ukraine is being fought not only on the ground, in the air, and at sea, but also literally on the internet as well.”
Russia’s military is waging a hybrid war in Ukraine, using a combination of cyber and kinetic weapons against Ukrainian civilians. “Today’s new declaration points not only to the urgent technology issues we must address to grapple with the war in Ukraine, but to the many varied human needs that require our generation to step forward and act collectively to protect human rights on the internet,” said Smith.
The declaration also calls for the protection of a multi-stakeholder system of internet governance. “New and innovative internet initiatives are needed to bring governments together with non-governmental organisations, academic researchers, technology companies and more,” said Smith.