May 08, 2012
White House Issues Major Statement on Internet Policy
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has issued an important statement on Internet policy:
Members of the business community have expressed concern that some national governments seek to balkanize the Internet by establishing barriers to the free flow of information under the pretext of protecting cybersecurity, social stability, or local economies. This is contrary to President Obama's vision of an Internet that is interoperable the world over, and the United States will vigorously oppose such barriers. Further, these regulatory actions would create a confusing array of “local Internets,” establishing different rules for different places. Firms may cease to offer services outside the country in which they are based if a variety of domestic regulations makes it too complicated or too costly.
The statement embraces a multistakeholder view of Internet regulation.
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The White House statement peaks my interest in regards to how those Nations implicated in the statement (those accused of restricting internet material under the guise of cyber security and the like) will respond to the vision of an interoperable internet. I would expect the United States, particularly Obama's Administration should it be reelected, to use the various economic and diplomatic instruments available to persuade these Nations to loosen their restrictions on the internet. It should be noted, however, that each government has the right to restrict certain content, regardless of whether those of us from the West (or the United States particularly) view these governments to be effectively quieting dissenting opinions. How far should governments allowing more free flowing ideas through the internet pressure those with greater restrictions to follow suit? The potential for businesses to expand into these markets through the internet seems to be beneficial to the world economy, but at some point a consensus for economic progress may threaten cultural and governmental autonomy in more restrictive countries. This is not to say that certain restrictive policies are not overly oppressive in my view, or the view of many, but governmental autonomy seems to be increasingly threatened in the expansively interconnected modern world. How will a balance between these values be struck?
Posted by: Amanjit Heir | Sep 17, 2012 2:17:30 PM
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