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Anförande vid London Conference on Cyberspace

Anförande i London, Storbritannien

I was born in a world of two and a half billion people - most of them without any hope of ever escaping their often desperate poverty.

Today there are seven billion people in the world. We are living in the most radical of scientific and technological revolutions mankind has ever seen, and innovation and growth are creating new opportunities every day.

A more open world economy and more open societies have lifted billions out of poverty and created new hopes for billions more. A new wave demanding dignity and democracy is sweeping through our world.

The Internet is a key part of this story.

But the Internet as we know it is only about two decades old.

Over these two decades, information and communications technologies have developed more rapidly - and have affected our societies more deeply - than anyone had predicted.

Science has often turned fiction into reality.

And if there is one prediction about the future that we can make with some certainty, it is that the coming decades will see even more radical, even more transformative developments.

We are rapidly moving into a world of hyperconnectivity.

In Stockholm, the demand for bandwidth for mobile communications is doubling every six months.

And just a week or so ago, I was sitting in a bar in New Delhi looking at the possibilities of a new cheap tablet that might bring virtually free internet to countless millions in the next few years.

We see countries in Africa leapfrogging entire technologies to bring new possibilities to even their remotest parts. I belong to those who see enormous potential in this.

Access to information is empowering people across the world in a way we have never seen before.

And as a result, we are seeing a new wave of innovation and change in every part of our society and economy. And it affects virtually everything.

The digital sector will be a key sector not only for a country like Sweden, but will impact the development of virtually every other part of the economy as well.

But it will also impact political developments.

There will be no hidden corners of our world any longer. There will be no dark spaces for dark acts. It is only natural that issues of cyberspace are rapidly emerging also on the global political agenda. Our meeting here is a clear sign of that.

This is necessary.

But a word of caution is called for.

The Internet has been developing over these decades free of state interference, driven by self-regulation and a multi-stakeholder approach. This has, I believe, been key to its rapid development.

It wasn't created by a committee. It wasn't set up by an international treaty.

Like all of the great innovations in the history of mankind, it was driven by entrepreneurs and innovators - by the free spirit of free men. We should all be grateful for that.

And we should be careful not to interfere with what has produced the miraculous success of the past few decades.

But as we now look ahead, there are obviously issues we need to address, and where we need to start developing a more coherent global approach. One is certainly the security of the Internet.

Once upon a time, the security of our societies was primarily a function of the security of our territories. Armies on our borders, securing our territories against invasions.

But in this age of accelerating globalisation and emerging hyperconnectivity, the security and strength of our societies is far more dependent on the security of the flows across these old borders.

We need robust, secure and fast access to the World Wide Web and its information flows. Without it, societies and individuals will be left behind or face serious problems.

And we need global norms and rules protecting these networks from interference, disruption or destruction.

The hyperconnected world also creates hypervulnerabilities that we must address, both individually as nations and collectively as the global community.

The immense flow of information will reflect the diversity and development of all of our societies in every respect. There will be - and there is already! - criminal and other behaviour that we must not accept.

But of at least equal concern as the issue of the security of the Internet should be the issue of freedom on the Internet for those of us who believe in the value of a free society.

Let's be clear: there is an increasing number of states taking action to limit the freedom of its individuals on the Internet.

In its dying days, we saw the Mubarak regime in Egypt cutting the entire country off from the Internet in the futile belief that this would stop the demands for change.

If anything, it accelerated the process by illustrating the desperation of the regime, by suffocating the economy and by forcing people into the streets.

This was an extreme case.

But other regimes increasingly use more sophisticated means. We see huge resources going into huge control systems. We need to develop international standards and safeguards in these respects.

This is an urgent and imperative task.

In his report to the UN Human Rights Committee, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression noted that the right to freedom of opinion and expression is an "enabler" of virtually all other human rights.

And that the Internet boosts economic, social and political development, and contributes to the progress of humankind as a whole.

It also follows from this that there "should be as little restriction as possible to the flow of information via the Internet, except in few, exceptional, and limited circumstances prescribed by international human rights law."

The full guarantee of the right to freedom of expression must be the norm, and any limitation considered as an exception. This fundamental principle should never be reversed.

This is a message that we have worked on for some time now, and with some success.

There will be an expert panel discussion on freedom of expression in the UN Human Rights Council next year. Discussions at the IGF much more prominently include human rights issues now than only a few years back.

This is a testament to the fact that the tech community, the business sector, governments and civil society all realise the importance of not leaving the human rights perspective out of the broader discussions on the Internet's future.

This is imperative not only from a wider perspective - the protection of basic human rights in cyberspace as well as everywhere else - but also from the perspective of the Internet itself.

A stifled Internet soon risks losing its vitality and transformative power. The security issues are fundamental.

But they must go hand in hand with the freedom issues. Freedom and security.

Never security without freedom.

Security without freedom would take us backwards, and that at a time when opportunities to take us forward are unprecedented.

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