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 Congress About Internet Governance Bill

CCIA wrote to members of Congress today as they prepare to mark up a new Internet Freedom bill. In the letter to leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, CCIA warned that legislation, designed to reinforce U.S. support for a global open Internet free of international regulation, is not only…

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WCIT [UN] Vote Threatens Internet

Last night at 1:30am in the morning the fears of many citizens, businesses, NGOs and public agencies were realized as the chairman of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) called for an unexpected vote to have a UN agency, where only governments have a real voice, take on a more active role in governing…

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Senate Approves Russia Trade Measure With Internet Censorship Provisions

The Computer & Communications Industry Association welcomes Senate passage today of legislation extending permanent normal trade relations to the Russian Federation by a vote of 92-4.  The bill combines the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, addressing the issues of human rights violations and corruption in Russia, with legislation removing application of the Jackson-Vanik…

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Congress Approves Russia Trade Measure With Internet Censorship Provisions

The Computer & Communications Industry Association welcomes House passage today of legislation extending permanent normal trade relations to the Russian Federation by a vote of 365-43.  In addition to removing application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Russia, the bill combines the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act addressing the issues of human rights violations…

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