Germany’s Merkel warns about attacks on the free internet

Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of the dangers of an isolationist policy approach to the internet, saying this could leave global infrastructure unstable and vulnerable to attack.

“The internet would be increasingly splintered,” Merkel said, listing other possible dangers such as greater surveillance of citizens, governments filtering content and increased censorship of information.

This could eventually culminate in the internet and mobile phone networks being turned off to hinder communication among the populace, she added, in a speech at the UN’s Internet Governance Forum in Berlin on Tuesday.

Such interference can restrict people’s right to information and communication, she said. “This takes the original idea of the internet, the inventors’ and founding fathers’ idea, and turns it on its head.”

The chancellor called on the delegates to protect the core of the internet as a global public good, adding that it would be necessary to take action beyond national borders in order to have a decentralized, transnational internet.

However, the future of the internet should not be shaped solely by states and governments, Merkel said. “All of the fundamental questions about the internet affect each and every one of us.”

She called for wide-ranging involvement of civil society, scientists and business, noting that, “the internet concerns all of us.”

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