Much of the web community has gathered in the Greek capital Athens this week for the first-ever Internet Governance Forum. Organised by the United Nations, the four-day forum is designed to give companies, governments, organisations and individuals an opportunity to debate the future of the web – trying to find a balance between the market-led priorities of business and freedom of speech.
Information commissioner Viviane Reding explained the EU’s priority. She said: “The key element for the European Commission is to keep the internet as an open and a censorship free zone, where all the world’s citizens can communicate freely with each without needing to seek the permission of anyone else, not least their goverments, in line with internationally recognised fundamental rights”
More than 1,200 delegates, from over 90 countries, are discussing issues including cybersecurity and fighting fraud as well as internet diversity, openness and access. Major industry players such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, AT&T, Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu and Ericsson have all send representatives.
Who controls the web remains a burning issue and such as issues as how much companies like Google and Yahoo should co-operate with regimes that do not allow freedom of speech.