Internet freedom is a foreign policy priority for the United States, and has been for many years. Our goal is to ensure that any child, born anywhere in the world, has access to the global Internet as an open platform on which to innovate, learn, organize, and express herself free from undue interference or censorship. Indeed, during his time in Congress, Secretary Kerry worked closely with then-Secretary Clinton to make certain that we could effectively promote long-standing values of openness and human rights in a networked world.
To do so, we are supporting the efforts of Americans and committed partners worldwide to bring down the walls that are denying the people of the world connection and access to each other’s ideas and services on the Internet. We do this in part because the Internet helps fuel the global economy, increases productivity, and creates jobs built on the unprecedented global reach that the platform provides for our businesses and innovators. Just as importantly, we are champions of Internet Freedom because the Internet serves as a powerful platform to bring information and resources to people who historically have been isolated, or their human rights repressed, so they, too, have the chance to become active, prosperous, and engaged participants in the world community.
This year, alone, we have moved closer in many ways to reaching our goal. In May, at the World Telecommunication Policy Forum, we advanced U.S. initiatives to preserve the open Internet and promote the worldwide deployment of broadband communications. In June, we came together in Tunisia with other member states of the Freedom Online Coalition, a forum for like-minded governments — 21 and growing — committed to collaborating to advance Internet freedom. This provided us and others an opportunity to coordinate efforts and work with civil society to support the ability for individuals to exercise their universal human rights and fundamental freedoms online.
As part of our efforts to promote Internet freedom in Iran, in May the Administration authorized the sale of U.S. personal communication technologies to the Iranian public. We took that one step further and met with Silicon Valley companies to encourage them to provide the type of technologies that will enable Iranian citizens to connect, communicate, and have their voices heard.
Three months ago the State Department and USAID awarded $25 million to groups working to advance Internet freedom — supporting counter-censorship and secure communications technology, digital safety training, and policy and research programs for people facing Internet repression. This funding is the most recent addition to our investment of over $100 million in innovative Internet freedom programs globally.
Finally, the State Department joined with other Freedom Online Coalition members to launch the Digital Defenders Partnership, an unprecedented collaboration among government donors to provide emergency support for Internet users under threat in repressive environments.
We do this work every day and it is a top priority. The Internet is an endless resource of information. Respect for the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association has the ability to enhance lives in ways we can’t even imagine, as long as we extend the same respect for these fundamental freedoms to the online world.
- Cross posted at DipNote, the official blog of the U.S. Department of State