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The United States, along with more than 55 global partners, on Thursday launched the ‘Declaration for the Future of the Internet’ – a ‘political commitment’ among democratic nations to advance a ‘positive vision’ for the internet and digital technologies amid “serious political challenges,” and a “dangerous new model of internet policy” from countries like Russia and China.
The “Declaration for the Future of the Internet” (DFI) aims to affirm fundamental principles regarding how countries should “behave in relation to the Internet and the digital ecosystem”.
“We are united by a belief in the potential of digital technologies to promote connectivity, democracy, peace, the rule of law, sustainable development and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, states the statement. “As we increasingly work, communicate, connect, engage, learn and enjoy our leisure time using digital technologies, our reliance on an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet will continue to grow.”
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The United States and the countries that endorsed the statement, however, noted that they were “also mindful of the risks inherent in this reliance and the challenges we face.”
“The partners in this statement intend to work towards an environment that strengthens our democratic systems and promotes the active participation of every citizen in democratic processes, secures and protects the privacy of individuals, maintains secure and reliable connectivity, resists to efforts to divide the global internet and promotes a free and competitive global economy,” the statement read.
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DFI signatory countries are: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Netherlands, Niger, Macedonia North, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, as well as the European Commission.
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India has yet to join, but an official noted that even after the launch of DFI, other nations are welcome.
Senior administration officials said dangerous online trends had been building for decades, but were amplified during Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“The past two months provide an extreme example of such behavior in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” an official said, adding that Russia has “aggressively promoted disinformation in its country. and abroad, censored internet news sources, blocked or shut down legitimate sites, and went so far as to physically attack Ukraine’s internet infrastructure.”
But officials said Russia was “not alone” in its malicious internet practices, citing China and “other sensory states” that have emerged as leaders in a “dangerous new model of internet policy”. .
The officials also said DFI will address the openness of the internet, even though it is “restricted by some authoritarian governments and online platforms and digital tools are increasingly used to suppress freedom of expression and deny other human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
DFI also seeks to address state-sponsored or “approved” “malicious behavior,” which it says is on the rise, citing the spread of misinformation, harmful illegal content, and can threaten the safety of individuals and contributing to radicalization and violence – as well as how ransomware-related cybercrime affects the security and resilience of critical infrastructure.
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“Disinformation and malicious foreign activity are used to sow division and conflict between individuals or groups in society, undermining respect for and protection of human rights and democratic institutions,” officials said.
The United States and partner nations, through DFI, will work to promote human rights, protect the Internet, and refrain from government-mandated Internet shutdowns, as well as inclusive and affordable internet access. »
The United States and its partners “will also work together to combat cybercrime, including cybercrime, and deter malicious cyber activity.”
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Senior administration officials said Thursday that the United States and its partners will work together in the “weeks, months and years to come to implement these principles and advance this vision globally while respecting the regulatory autonomy for each within our own jurisdictions and in accordance with our respective national laws and international legal obligations.”
Fox News’ Kristina Biddle contributed to this report.