Global Commission To Study Internet Censorship, Privacy Issues

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DAVOS, Switzerland (UPI) — The future of the Internet will be the focus of a major independent commission announced by officials Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

The group will focus primarily on state censorship of the Internet and the issues of privacy and surveillance, The Guardian reported.

The commission was formed in the wake of disclosures by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden of massive spying efforts by the United States and Britain.

To be headed by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the commission will be comprised of 25 people chosen from the fields of politics, academics and intelligence who will lead a series of public forums around the world.

“The rapid evolution of the net has been made possible by the open and flexible model by which it has evolved and been governed,” Bildt said as the commission was announced. “But increasingly this is coming under attack. And this is happening as issues of net freedom, net security and net surveillance are increasingly debated. Net freedom is as fundamental as freedom of information and freedom of speech in our societies.”

The two-year inquiry was set up Chatham House, a think tank of Britain’s foreign office, and the Center for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI), which is funded in part by Canada.

In a joint statement, Chatham House and CIGI said the Internet was under threat by two sources: states attempting to exert tighter controls over Internet resources and extensive spying on messages and data sent through the Internet.

Chatham House director Robin Niblet said Internet governance “is set to become one of the most pressing global policy issues of our time.”

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