People hold a banner in support of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff as she addresses the opening ceremony of NETmundial, a major conference on the future of Internet governance in Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo - Brazil launched a push for global internet governance based on principles rooted in freedom and protection of privacy.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced the basic principles at a meeting of internet stakeholders called NETmundial, a two-day event in Sao Paulo.

The fight for global internet governance demands respect for freedom of expression and privacy and for country sovereignty, she said.

It also takes in the principle of universal Internet access and demands respect for social and cultural differences. NETmundial brings together government officials, business people, geeks, academics and representatives of civil society to draft a roadmap for Internet governance.

The effort to regulate the world wide web is Brazil's answer to the espionage scandal involving the US National Security Agency (NSA).

According to documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA spied on Rousseff, among other world leaders.

Before she formally opened NETmundial, Rousseff enacted a law that, she said, “can influence the global debate in the search for a way to ensure real rights in a virtual world.”

Debate in Sao Paulo is set to be based on 188 proposals which organisers got from 60 countries, in many cases through the online platform, which the Brazilian government launched to encourage broad participation in talks on the issue. Among others, Brazilian authorities favour strengthening the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), so that this stakeholder forum can issue recommendations to limits the actions of the various organisations involved in managing the web.

Brazil also favours globalizing the two bodies responsible for central internet functions: the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), both currently supervised by the US Department of Commerce.

The US government recently said they were willing to allow multiparty supervision of ICANN and IANA, but Rousseff insisted that such multilateralism must include developing nations. “Unilateralism is indefensible. The Internet is not democratic if it is subjected to government deals to exclude other parties, or multiparty deals subjected to the supervision of one or of just a few states,” she warned.

The European Union also favoured broadening and globalizing Internet governance. “The internet is more disruptive than the printing press, electrification and industrialisation combined,” European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said at NETmundial.

“The internet is now a global, common, public resource and its governance must be truly global, transparent and accountable,” Kroes said.

Rousseff noted that the United Nations already passed a resolution that was jointly proposed by Brazil and Germany on the issue. It would establish the right to privacy and demanded that countries refrain from cyber-espionage. She said, however, that action is needed beyond this resolution. Rousseff said “visible and invisible hurdles” in the universalization of internet access should be removed to ensure “the web's neutrality” and to prevent commercial or political interests from blocking access to certain contents. “Cyberspace must be a land of trust, of human rights, of citizenship and of peace,” Rousseff said. - Sapa-dpa