Declaration for the Future of the Internet

to protect digital democracy and realize a “New American Foreign Policy of Technology”
May 01, 2023
Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative (GMF Digital)
2 min read
China, Russia, and other repressive regimes have weaponized the open internet as they have weaponized the openness of the Internet.

On the first anniversary of the White House-championed Declaration for the Future of the Internet, a commitment now affirmed by more than 65 countries, the United States must promote and expand efforts to realize its goal of upholding an "open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet”. 

Signatories (countries in blue) to the Declaration for the Future of the Internet 

The Declaration’s principles include protection of fundamental freedoms, free flow of information, the right to connectivity, privacy protection, and a commitment to multistakeholder internet governance. It condemns authoritarian digital measures such as repression of free expression, censorship, and the fracturing of the global internet (“splinternet”).  

The Declaration can serve as a promotional vehicle in multistakeholder and multilateral forums, with the State Department’s new Bureau for Cyberspace and Digital Policy spearheading the effort. The United States also chairs the Freedom Online Coalition in 2023 and can use this leadership position to coordinate multistakeholder approaches to internet governance across countries. 

In addition to promoting the Declaration, the United States can advance digital democracy through policy development in three areas: 

Preparing for new cybersecurity challenges: 

  • Addressing increased challenges and opportunities posed by new technologies, including the development of the Internet of Things, the proliferation of space servers, and faster quantum computing’s threat to encryption 

  • Developing interoperable cybersecurity procurement standards with allies 

  • Learning from Russia’s use of cyberattacks in its invasion of Ukraine and the Western response to these attacks 

Developing information integrity strategies: 

  • Creating a strategic framework to distinguish among foreign state action requiring attribution, removal, and correction; illegal activity requiring law enforcement action against individuals; and information pollution requiring longer-term action 

  • Strengthening an information integrity strategy that addresses the risks of information operations while safeguarding freedom of expression 

  • Promoting social resilience through media literacy, greater transparency, support of independent journalism, and a “PBS of the internet” 

Renewing commitment to online freedom: 

  • Combatting state censorship, internet shutdowns, and surveillance through multistakeholder efforts 

  • Working with civil society, technologists, and industry to promote internet freedom through US leadership in the Freedom Online Coalition, the Declaration for the Future of the Internet partnerships, and other forums 

GMF Digital proposes in its new report “The New American Foreign Policy of Technology” three initiatives for democracies to outcompete authoritarians: a Digital Policy Lab, a Technology Task Force, and a campaign to build on the Declaration for the Future of the Internet. Democracies’ openness gives them a natural edge over authoritarians in innovation, but yesterday’s tools cannot address today’s challenges.