G7 Nations Sign Declaration to Keep the Internet Safe and Open

G7 nations have signed a new declaration that promises to boost online safety worldwide in accordance with open democratic principles.

The joint ministerial declaration, signed by tech leaders from the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the US, and the EU, agreed on a range of principles to tackle cyber-risks. These emphasize that any action taken to tackle cybercrime must support democratic ideals and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The announcement has come amid growing concerns about the influence of nations with illiberal values, such as China, in cyberspace, and the market power of big tech platforms, which potentially threatens competition and even free speech online.

The agreements relate to the following areas:

  • Internet safety principles, in which the G7 countries have committed to protecting human rights online and agreed that tech firms are responsible for their users’ safety
  • A framework for the use of electronic transferable records to make it easier for companies to use digital solutions for the shipment of goods and trade finance
  • Agreement that a more coordinated approach to regulation and promotion of competition is needed in digital markets
  • Cooperation between the G7 to develop best practices for the safe and free flow of data across priority areas, including transport and science and research
  • Working together on how democratic governments and stakeholders can support the creation of digital technical standards that enable a free, open, and secure internet

During the virtual meeting, hosted by UK digital secretary Oliver Dowden, the representatives of the G7 also discussed the need to enhance security and resilience in critical digital infrastructure, especially in telecommunications technologies such as 5G.

Dowden commented: “As a coalition of the world’s leading democracies and technological powers, we want to forge a compelling vision of how tech should support and enhance open and democratic societies in the digital age.

“Together we have agreed a number of priorities in areas ranging from internet safety to digital competition to make sure the digital revolution is a democratic one that enhances global prosperity for all.”

The agreements are part of the first of seven ministerial declarations expected to be signed this year by the G7 governments.

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