Global panel urges ‘new social compact’ on Internet privacy

A global commission on Internet privacy is urging governments to rebuild users’ trust online by endorsing a set of guiding principles, including personal data protection as a “fundamental human right.”

“It is now essential that governments, collaborating with all other stakeholders, take steps to build confidence that the right to privacy of all people is respected on the Internet,” the Global Commission on Internet Governance said in a statement Wednesday.

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“A social compact must be built on a shared commitment by all stakeholders in developed and less developed countries to take concrete action in their own jurisdictions to build trust and confidence in the Internet.”

The panel, created last year to investigate Internet freedom, specifically decried the idea of government-ordered “back doors” in technology. Law enforcement argues that it needs ways to access encrypted user data in criminal and national security investigations.

“Governments should not create or require third parties to create ‘back doors’ to access data that would have the effect of weakening the security of the Internet,” the commission stated.

“Efforts by the Internet technical community to incorporate privacy-enhancing solutions in the standards and protocols of the Internet, including end-to-end encryption of data in transit and at rest, should be encouraged.”

The panel was launched by global think tanks CIGI and Chatham House and is led by Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt. Read more about its resolution here.