US, partner countries launch declaration to promote free, open internet

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The U.S. and more than 55 partner countries signed onto a declaration to foster an open, free, reliable and secure internet, senior Biden administration officials said Thursday. 

The Declaration for the Future of the Internet is in part a response to a rising trend of digital authoritarianism, including Russia’s actions to block credible news sites and promote disinformation during and leading up to the invasion of Ukraine, the administration officials said. 

The declaration lays out principles to promote a shared vision among the countries while they act within their own jurisdictions and in accordance with their respective laws. 

“We call for a new Declaration for the Future of the Internet that includes all partners who actively support a future for the Internet that is an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure. We further affirm our commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online and across the digital ecosystem,” the declaration states, according to a copy shared with The Hill.

“Partners in this Declaration intend to work toward an environment that reinforces our democratic systems and promotes active participation of every citizen in democratic processes, secures and protects individuals’ privacy, maintains secure and reliable connectivity, resists efforts to splinter the global Internet, and promotes a free and competitive global economy.”

The principles in the document focus on internet safety, including promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms online, as well as ensuring people globally are able to access safe and reliable internet.

Russia is not the sole country using digital authoritarian methods to create a less open internet, officials said, also naming China. 

Administration officials declined to comment on diplomatic conversations with specific countries, but said the launch of the declaration should not come as a surprise to any countries, even those that the administration thought were unlikely to join. 

The document will remain open after Thursday’s initial launch for others to join the effort. 

Tags Biden China China Declaration for the Future of the Internet digital authoritarianism Free internet Internet access Internet safety russia Russia

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