Multilateralism guarantees the freedom of the internet

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UN Internet Governance Forum in Berlin Multilateralism guarantees the freedom of the internet

At the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin an open and secure internet is to be secured for the generations to come, ideally underpinned by an international treaty covering all sections of society. Chancellor Angela Merkel explained that we must also decide which values, principles and rules and regulations we want to transfer to the digital world?

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Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the 14th UN Internet Governance Forum.

"Germany is ready to help reshape global internet governance," said Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Internet Governance Forum

Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

In her opening address at this year’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Chancellor Angela Merkel drew a historic comparison regarding the concept of freedom. Thirty years ago, she pointed out, the people in the German Democratic Republic demanded their right to freedom. The same values were behind the visions of the creators of the internet fifty years ago and the world wide web thirty years ago. The internet "crosses borders and brings people together. We all benefit from global connectivity," stressed the Chancellor on Tuesday in Berlin.

One World. One Net. One Vision

This year, the Internet Governance Forum is being held in Germany for the first time, under the banner "One World. One Net. One Vision". The IGF is a global multistakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of policy issues relating to the internet. It was founded in 2006 by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The German government has invited more than 5,000 guests to Berlin, where they will be discussing the future of the internet over the next few days.

In her address, the Chancellor warned that we cannot take the freedom of the internet for granted. There must be limits online as offline where individual rights are infringed or violated. The aim must be to preserve and protect this asset across generations, she said.

We must shape digitalisation to benefit every individual

Angela Merkel also made it plain that the Internet Governance Forum must resolutely oppose the plans of autocratic states to impose political and ideological restrictions on the internet. We must shape digitalisation to benefit every individual, she said. Digital sovereignty must be a basic human right. In the spirit of the United Nations, under whose aegis the IGF operates, multilateralism alone can stop or prevent trends of this sort. "Germany is ready to help reshape global internet governance," declared the Chancellor.