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Google blasts UN over internet freedom

21 Nov 2012
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Google has slammed an upcoming United Nations conference which the company believes will lead to tighter restrictions on internet access.

Google said that the upcoming meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) would give governments the chance to set new regulations without input from citizens and user advocacy groups.

"Only governments have a voice at the ITU," the company said.

"This includes governments that do not support a free and open internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote."

The comments were posted to Google's new Take Action portal. The site encourages users to take part in governance efforts and make their voices heard through various campaigns aimed at stopping web censorship and takedown efforts.

Google has seen itself at the centre of a number of government censorship and takedown efforts. The company recently disclosed that it had received some 20,000 requests for user data in the first six months of 2012, with the US as the top applicant.

While takedown requests have remained steady in the UK, the company warned that meetings such as the ITU conferences could allow government organisations to side-step the democratic process and apply even tighter controls on the web behind closed doors.

"Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access," Google argued.

"Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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