Speaking today at the 5th annual Online Trust and Cybersecurity Forum at Georgetown Univeristy, Secretary Locke announced the official launch of an initiative aimed at preserving the global, free flow of information online to ensure that the Internet remains open for commercial opportunity and innovation. This initiative coincides with President Obama's message today in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in which he reinforced America's commitment to "a free and open Internet."
The Commerce Department is seeking public comment on the extent to which evolving policies from governments around the world may be restricting information on the Internet and inhibiting innovation and economic growth for U.S. companies. The request will seek input from all stakeholders to better understand the types of emerging government policies that restrict online information, how they are adopted, and what impact they have on innovation, job creation, economic development, global trade and investment.
Secretary Locke said, "In recent years, however, we have seen a significant up-tick in threats to the free flow of information on the Internet. Censorship continues to be a significant problem in too many countries, and a range of new Internet-related regulations, or other actions by governments around the world, are springing up as speed bumps on the information superhighway. At one level, we are dealing with questions that concern national sovereignty. We recognize that enhanced efforts to combat cyber-crimes and to protect a nation’s national security needs are necessary. But there seems to be the growing risk that idiosyncratic regulations are implemented not to protect a state’s legitimate interests, but rather to undermine fair competition or create market share for preferred businesses."
Preserving the global, free flow of information online supports the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which seeks to double U.S. exports in five years in support of several million American jobs. One of the goals of the NEI is an increased effort to remove barriers that prevent U.S. companies from getting free and fair access to foreign markets. To this end, the department aims to ensure that the Internet remains a global platform for vigorous trade and innovation.