The free flow of information is essential to Internet freedom.  Internet freedom is online freedom of expression in the 21st century and enables the dissemination of information and ideas that are the building blocks of economic growth and democracy.  Filtering or regulation by governments or private Internet access providers curtails the democratizing effects and economic benefits of the Internet.  CCIA has applauded Obama Administration efforts to combat censorship, filtering and invasions of online privacy by foreign regimes.  The U.S. State Department has undertaken a strategic dialogue with Civil Society that involves international NGOs and may become a new model for 21st Century diplomacy.  Nations valuing Internet freedom can also help promote it by working together in regional efforts.

Businesses and citizens alike possess limited tools to combat government censorship and demands for information. A strong and consistent U.S. Government position is essential so when foreign regimes attempt to strong-arm U.S. businesses regarding censorship, surveillance or possible facilitation of human rights violations, they may be exposed in the broader international business arena and among free trading partners. Government-to-government diplomatic engagement including multilateral efforts and social media engagement across diverse cultures are key to combating state-sponsored online abuses that are on the rise, including blog infiltrators, technical and physical attacks on citizens for their online speech, hijacking of personal accounts and pressure on intermediaries leading to voluntary takedowns of content.

CCIA’s View:

Multi-stakeholder forums such as the Global Network Initiative (GNI) and Freedom House can best advance the goal of Internet freedom by calling out Internet restricting nations from a human rights perspective, and promote the Internet as a tool of economic growth around the world.  Companies need a reliable rough consensus framework and guidelines of their own for response when an Internet freedom crisis occurs.  Government prosecution of Internet censorship as a trade barrier in violation of international trade agreements is also an appropriate way to improve the free flow of data across national borders.  By contrast, international governmental regulation of the Internet by the ITU, an agency of the United Nations, is not advisable, and would threaten to fragment and disrupt the global Internet.  That is why in 2012, Congress passed a unanimous resolution against ITU regulation of the Internet.

Most Recent Statements&Findings:

CCIA Warns Section 230 Bill Sets Up Government Censorship Of Online Speech; Less Freedom For Internet Sites To Remove Extremist Content

Washington — Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has introduced legislation that would give tech companies the option of either applying to the government for a license to remove particular content like hate speech — or take an entirely hands-off approach. The bill to remove Section 230 liability protections without a government license and scrutiny of a…

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EU Court Opinion Poses Questions About Platforms’ Monitoring And Removal Obligations

Brussels, BELGIUM — Advocate General Maciej Szpunar of the European Court of Justice today delivered his non-binding opinion in the case of whether the removal of illegal online content should apply beyond the borders of one country, and whether hosting service providers should proactively identify and remove similar content. The case involves a user registered…

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EU and US Policy and Tech Leaders Discuss Tech Policy At CCIA’s Transatlantic Event

Washington — Senior U.S. government and EU officials and tech representatives discussed digital policy issues requiring cooperation like cybersecurity and online censorship at CCIA’s “Transatlantic Digital Economy 2019” event Thursday afternoon. Robert Strayer, Ambassador & Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy for the U.S. Department of State and Roberto Viola,…

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CCIA expresses serious concerns with Russia law to control Internet

Washington — The Russian government has enacted legislation that will extend Russia’s authoritarian control of the Internet by taking steps to create a local Internet infrastructure, shutting out citizens from the rest of the online world.  CCIA has previously raised concerns regarding the steady rise in action by the Russia government to limit Internet freedom…

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European Parliament Committee Adopts Position on Regulating Terrorist Content Online

Brussels, BELGIUM — The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) adopted its opinion on the draft Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The text will form the basis of the European Parliament’s position in the final trilogue negotiations with the European Commission and the European Council. The draft…

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Stakeholders To MEPs: EU Terrorist Content Regulation Must Comply With Fundamental Rights.

Brussels, BELGIUM — The Computer & Communications Industry Association joined 8 other business and civil society groups in a letter to Members of the European Parliament expressing concerns about the proposal on the dissemination of terrorist content online. This proposal could have a negative impact on European citizens’ fundamental rights and on hosting service providers…

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