Technology

UK will push to keep internet ‘free and open’ after joining UN telecoms council

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he UK will use its new position on the governing council of a United Nations agency for telecoms to protect a “free and fair” internet, the Government’s tech minister has said.

After winning a seat on the council of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Damian Collins said the UK would use the seat to “close the divide between those cut off from technology and those in the digital fast lane”.

The ITU oversees the global allocation of spectrum – the radio waves used to send and receive information – as well as the network of satellites used to power communication via mobile phones, wifi, television, GPS navigation and other mapping services.

With a seat on the ITU’s governing council, we will champion tech as a solution to the world’s biggest challenges

It is also behind some of the technical work that allows for mobile phones to roam overseas and help bring internet access to the 2.7 billion people around the world who are not connected.

The Government said it would use the UK’s place on the council to push to keep technology in the hands of industry and the free market, as well as working to ensure technology remained interoperable between businesses around the world.

Tech and digital economy minister Mr Collins said: “The UK is a technology superpower and has always played a leading role setting international standards for telecoms and innovations which have improved billions of people’s lives across the globe.

“With a seat on the ITU’s governing council, we will champion tech as a solution to the world’s biggest challenges, redouble our efforts to close the divide between those cut off from technology and those in the digital fast lane, and make sure the internet remains free and open.”

The UK’s election came alongside US candidate Doreen Bogdan-Martin being elected Secretary General of the ITU, defeating her Russian opponent.

The Government said it also welcomed this result, calling it a significant win for the efforts of western democracies to block attempts by authoritarian regimes to put greater government controls on the internet.

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