The United States and more than 55 other countries commit to democratic internet governance

The United States and more than 55 other countries commit to democratic internet governance

The agreement, known as the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, aims to prevent an emerging “splinternet” characterized by growing repression of Internet users in closed regimes such as Russia and China – and the divergence of these countries in relation to the founding principles of the Internet. universal access and unhindered flow of information.

Concerns about the internet’s long-term trajectory have been amplified by the war in Ukraine, senior Biden administration officials say, as Russia moves to block Western social media services and penalizes sharing content. precise information on the conflict.

Russia’s information warfare, including its online disinformation and propaganda campaigns, is just one of many examples of illiberal behavior the statement seeks to counter, US officials said.

“We believe this particular struggle is a key part of the overall struggle between authoritarian governments and democracies,” a senior official told reporters Wednesday night. Officials declined to say whether Russia and China had been offered a chance to sign.

Thursday’s announcement follows months of deliberations between governments, civil society groups, Big Tech companies and other members of the internet ecosystem. Signatories range from US military allies to economic partners including Canada, the UK, Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine.

Among other issues, the statement repeatedly highlights how cyberattacks and misinformation risk undermining human rights and the promise of the internet.

“Online platforms have enabled an increase in the dissemination of illegal or harmful content that can threaten the safety of individuals and contribute to radicalization and violence,” the document adds.

Many of the commitments set out in the accord mirror existing U.S. policy initiatives, and administration officials have described the declaration as a way to organize and harmonize those efforts internationally.

Under the agreement, countries pledged not to misuse internet technologies for illegal surveillance; block content or websites in violation of so-called net neutrality principles; or use digital tools to undermine trust in elections.

They agreed to support multilateral efforts against cybercrime, an issue that is growing in importance as businesses and governments reel in the face of devastating ransomware attacks.

They have pledged to use only ‘trustworthy’ network equipment, a nod to the spying risks the US and its allies have said are associated with Chinese vendors such as Huawei. (Huawei has denied that it poses any danger to communications or the safety of its customers.)

And they came together to reaffirm their support for the decentralized, consensus-based approach that for decades underpinned decisions about how the internet works.

“We and our allies are not here to smash the internet, but to save it from shattering,” one of the senior US officials said.

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