[Originally written for the CIPR Conversation Friday Roundup.]

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Public relations – the pursuit of mutual understanding and goodwill – has been transformed by the Internet. Of that, no regular reader of The Conversation and the Roundup can be in doubt. And yet it is all too easy to take the Internet for granted.

The way the Internet has evolved to date has been critical to the way social media has evolved and our corresponding facilities as citizens, employees and consumers to participate, to innovate, to produce, to mashup, to share and to converse.

The open, decentralized Internet, governed by many stakeholders, is under threat. Right now, several countries, including China and Russia, are proposing to expand the powers of a non-transparent global institution, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), allowing it to change the rules on how our internet is used and governed.

And what's worse, the ITU won't even release their negotiating documents to the public or give internet users a seat at the table. The ITU simply isn't used to public accountability.

The ITU plays an important role in telecommunications and spectrum management but this is not cause for expanding its mandate. While an evolution of Internet governance is needed (not least an examination of the role of the US), it should evolve in the same way that it was originally designed – in an open, decentralized, and inclusive manner.

It's easy to take the Internet for granted. Please don't.

If you truly cherish the openness, the ability to connect and share and talk and learn and teach and debate and speak out and speak up, then now is the time to speak up. The Access campaign explains the situation very clearly, and I for one hope that every public relations practitioner takes the time to visit the Access website and signs the petition to protect our Internet.