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Coming together to protect the global internet

The global internet began with an incredible promise: a shared resource that everyone could access wherever they lived. Over the last few years, this ideal has been strained to the breaking point as governments around the world have adopted conflicting regulations that are fragmenting the internet to the detriment of people everywhere.

That’s why it’s great to see countries coming together today to launch the Declaration for the Future of the Internet (DFI). Through this effort, allies across the public and private sectors will work together to protect the importance of the global web, including by opposing shutdowns and other “efforts to splinter the global Internet.”

Digital fragmentation impacts everyone using the internet. As conflicting regulations proliferate, people’s access to content, privacy protections, and freedom to transact and communicate increasingly vary depending on where they are located. Digital fragmentation has become a significant barrier to international trade, with a particularly pernicious effect on small businesses, which lack the resources to navigate an array of conflicting rules. And it discriminates against smaller, developing countries, as new products become harder to launch and scale on a fragmented Internet to all markets.

The DFI provides a path to address the most urgent threats to the global internet. In particular, we’re seeing a number of governments take actions to crack down on the free flow of information and ideas, increase government surveillance, and restrict access to cross-border internet services under the banner of “cyber-sovereignty.”

The DFI joins the EU-US Trade & Tech Council and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework as important fora where like-minded partners can join together to address cross-border challenges. We hope this work will be grounded in a few key principles:

  • First, governments should strive to agree on common standards to guide the development of new rules for digital technologies, so that consumers have consistent protections across borders and access to digital tools.
  • Second, governments should strive to increase interoperability between national digital rules, as we’ve seen with the US-EU Data Privacy Framework.
  • Third, governments should commit to intergovernmental regulatory dialogue to ensure that new rules strengthen shared values.
  • And fourth, governments should abide by core open trade principles like non-discriminatory approaches to regulation that don’t single out foreign companies.

The private sector also plays an important role in maintaining the global internet. That’s especially true in times of crisis, as security teams work to disrupt disinformation campaigns, cyber attacks and other online threats. Since Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, our teams have been working around the clock to support people in Ukraine through our products, defend against cybersecurity threats, and surface high-quality, reliable information. We are committed to partnering with governments and civil society through the Declaration to disrupt disinformation campaigns and foreign malign activity, while ensuring people around the world are able to access trustworthy information.

Ultimately, the cross-border availability of secure technologies and digital services – coupled with forward-looking decisions by governments – can protect access to information everywhere and ensure that the enormous benefits resulting from the global internet are not lost. We stand ready to support the DFI’s mission to promote an open, secure, and reliable internet for all.

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