San Francisco: The US, all the European Union (EU) member states and 32 non-EU countries have signed a "Declaration for the Future of the Internet" that calls for an "open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure" internet.
The declaration represents a political commitment among partners to advance a positive vision for the internet and digital technologies, the White House said in a statement late on Thursday.
"It also reaffirms and recommits its partners to a single global Internet - one that is truly open and fosters competition, privacy, and respect for human rights," it added.
The declaration said that globally, we are witnessing a trend of rising digital authoritarianism where some states act to repress freedom of expression, censor independent news sites, interfere with elections, promote disinformation, and deny their citizens other human rights.
"At the same time, millions of people still face barriers to access and cybersecurity risks and threats undermine the trust and reliability of networks".
The declaration aims to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people and promote a global Internet that advances the free flow of information.
It also advances inclusive and affordable connectivity so that all people can benefit from the digital economy and promote trust in the global digital ecosystem, including through protection of privacy.
"Today, for the first time, like-minded countries from all over the world are setting out a shared vision for the future of the Internet, to make sure that the values we hold true offline are also protected online, to make the Internet a safe place and trusted space for everyone, and to ensure that the Internet serves our individual freedom," said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
The declaration emphasises that the internet should be decentralised and globally interconnected.
The countries should "refrain from undermining the technical infrastructure essential to the general availability and integrity of the internet".
So far, 60 partners have endorsed the declaration and more countries are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.
The partners in the declaration affirm that the Internet must reinforce core democratic principles, fundamental freedoms and human rights as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"They share the belief that the Internet should operate as a single, decentralised network of networks, where digital technologies are used in a trustworthy way, avoiding unfair discrimination between individuals and allowing for contestability of online platforms, and for fair competition among businesses," said the European Commission.