☷Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on the Declaration for the Future of the Internet
White House ( By Press Release office)
| 10| 0
Via Teleconference ( April 27 , 2022 ) 4:06 P . M . EDTMODERATOR: Thank you . And thanks , everyone , for joining . So , this call is going to be on background , attributable to “senior administration officials . ” The contents of this call are embargoed until tomorrow , Thursday , April 28th , 7:00 a . m . Eastern . You all should have gotten the Declaration under embargo in your inboxes . If you didn’t , please email me . And there’s a factsheet that is also coming your way soon . So , with that , I’m going to — and — sorry , and just for your awareness but not for your reporting , the speakers on this call are [senior administration official] and then [senior administration official] . So , I’m going to start with [senior administration official] to kick us off with some remarks . Thank you . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi , everybody . And thank you for joining the call . It goes without saying that the Internet has enabled extraordinary benefits for the country and also the world , but it has also created new policy challenges , both domestically and internationally . On the international front — what we’re talking about today — we have seen a trend of rising digital authoritarianism , where some states have been acting to repress freedom of expression , to censor independent news sources , to interfere with elections , promote disinformation around the world , and deny their citizens other human rights . The last two months have provided an extreme example of such behavior in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine . Russia has aggressively promoted disinformation at home and abroad , censored Internet news sources , blocked or shut down legitimate sites , and gone so far as to physically attack the Internet infrastructure in Ukraine . Russia , however , is hardly alone but just one of the leaders in a dangerous new model of Internet policy along with the People’s Republic of China and some of the other most censorial states in the world . In response to these alarming trends , the United States is launching the Declaration for the Future of the Internet — otherwise known as the “DFI” — jointly with more than 50 partners , 50 other states from around the world , including — on the morning of April 28th , 2022 . And U . S . National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will be hosting the launch with endorsing partners . In fact , I think I can say more . We have more than 55 partner countries from around the world . I will note that this effort takes into account and is complementary to existing processes in the United Nations , the G7 , the G20 , the OECD , WTO , ICANN , the Freedom Online Coalition , and other relevant multilateral and multi - stakeholder fora . We will use this Declaration and the principles to fortify existing institutions . Now I’m going to turn it over to [senior administration official] to talk more about the Declaration itself . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks . Thanks , [senior administration official] . And thanks to all of you for joining this afternoon . We are tremendously excited about the launch tomorrow of the DFI , which represents , obviously , something a number of us have been working on across the administration , joined by dozens of countries around the world — as [senior administration official] says , more than 55 at this point — for quite some time . And just really excited to get it — get it out there . You know , as [moderator] said , and as I hope you all have in your inboxes — you have the Declaration text itself , so I’m going to keep my summary brief . But , basically , the Declaration affirms fundamental principles regarding how countries should comport themselves with respect to the Internet and to the digital ecosystem , the digital economy . It commits governments to promoting an open , free , global , interoperable , reliable , and secure Internet for the world . This includes defending the Internet — an Internet that is governed through a multi - stakeholder approach that works with and through existing institutions and processes; an Internet that fosters the protection and promotion of basic human rights online; and an Internet that advances these goals across relevant economic policies and regulatory activities . I want to point out the significance of the timing of the Declaration . What you’re seeing with the launch of the DFI is democratic governments and other like - minded partners from around the world rising to the challenge at this critical moment in history . Over the last year , the U . S . has worked extensively and intensively with partners from all over the world — with civil society , with industry , with academics , and other stakeholders — to try to reverse the current trajectory of the Internet , including through the development of this Declaration . The DFI has not been a “U . S . effort” to which others are joining , but a truly joint effort with America’s allies and partners . The U . S . and partners endorsing this Declaration will work together in the weeks , months , and years ahead to implement these principles and to promote this vision globally , while respecting each other’s regulatory autonomy within our own jurisdictions and in accordance with our respective domestic laws and international legal obligations . The Declaration will also remain open after the launch to all partners who are willing to endorse its vision and uphold its principles . And so , we’re excited to have more than 55 countries join tomorrow . We’re also excited to see other counties come on — come on board as this goes forward . Efforts like this take work and time , but we believe the DFI will advance a positive vision for digital technologies anchored by democratic values . We look forward to working with governments , the private sector , international organizations , the technical community , academia and civil society , and other relevant stakeholders worldwide to promote , foster , and achieve this shared vision . [Moderator] , let me turn it back over to you for a few questions . MODERATOR: Great . Thank you . Could we cue up the directions , please , to ask a question Q Hello . Thanks so much for this . Can you maybe address why you aren’t doing this through the U . N . framework at the OEWG , and if this is any kind of indictment of that process And I noticed India and New Zealand are not on the list . Have you asked them And what is the significance of getting their buy - in And finally , can you talk a little bit about the risks you see of splinternet and whether this is about more disinformation or physical attacks on infrastructure Thank you . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: [Senior administration official] , do you want to start with those Well , maybe I’ll start with one point , which — the good news is New Zealand has , in fact , joined the Declaration slightly ( inaudible ) . And we — you know , the hope remains that time isn’t fully passed yet for India to join . But we’ve been engaged in — in very intensive efforts to have all of these — all of these countries join . And we’ve been very — frankly , as [senior administration official] said , you know , we’re not at the end of this; the Declaration remains open . And , you know , for some people , it takes time ( inaudible ) think about it or , frankly , even just see who else has joined . And we remain confident that like - minded countries around the world will — will sign up . [Senior administration official] , I don’t know if you want to address anything else that was in the question . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No , I just wanted to echo , [senior administration official] , the points you made on membership . You know , it’s been growing by the day , which is terrific , and I think you’re going to continue to see it grow going forward . You know , in terms of the splinternet issue — look , I think the reality is that what we’re seeing as we look out over the world is a , you know , trend by some countries , and particularly some of the authoritarian countries , to try to create a splinternet . So , I mean , you look at what Russia is doing , some of the steps that China has been taking — and I think we actually see this as , in many ways , a response to these kind of splinternet tendencies by a number of the authoritarian countries around the world . Because what we’re really doing is taking a big - tent approach , laying out a broad — you know , and as I say , you know , more than 55 countries — broadly - shared vision of the future of the Internet . And we think that kind of galvanizing the world behind a shared vision is a very important part of pushing back on these splinternet tendencies . And then , on a more technical level , I think you’ll see — see in the text of the Declaration , you know , one of the principles we are committing to — all the countries are committing to — is kind of a reaffirmation of , you know , the multistakeholder approach to governance of the Internet — the idea that , you know , going back to its creation decades ago , it has been governed by a multi - stakeholder approach . And , you know , we view this as an opportunity to kind of reaffirm a commitment to that at a time when not every country is on board . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You know , let me double - down on that . We’re not — we and our allies are not here to splinter the Internet but , frankly , to save it from splintering . You know , there has been a determined effort , as you said , to try and set up the two multiple Internets , each — each different . And we are — and our allies — reaffirming the vision of one Internet for the world . The Internet was originally a network of networks designed to interconnect everyone , and we think there’s extraordinary value in that . And we’re here to try to restore that vision . MODERATOR: Great . Next question , please . Q Hey , everyone , thank you so much for your time . I want to dig in a little bit on — you said , you know , in the coming weeks , months , years , they’re going to be implementing these principles . And I’m wondering if you can — like , more specifically , what does that mean And part of the reason I ask is that I think we can look at how China has approached these questions . It has often been by really kind of pushing products to countries in terms of telecom equipment , undersea cables , like , that provide them sort of — sort of material support , if they bring their countries online and their infrastructure up to date . And so , you know , principles are one thing , but how do you counter — how do you plan to counter sort of an on - the - ground offensive , that is often about sort of more material , in line with this document you’re going to put out tomorrow Thanks so much . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So I think this is a great question , David , and thanks for it . And I should — maybe we should have made clear off the — you know , right off — right off the top: Obviously , what we’re doing with the DFI tomorrow is one important part , but only one important part of a kind of comprehensive set of tools and policies we , as the United States , have to promote our vision of the Internet and of global digital connectivity . You know — and , for example , you know , our State Department colleague who’s on — on with us , you know , works for a new bureau the State Department just set up a couple of weeks ago in order to — in order to help make the U . S . more effective , both at a diplomatic level but also , as you say , at pushing out , like , tangible , concrete things . And I think we could give you a whole , you know , separate interview on all the things we are doing to promote Open RAN 5G technologies around the world to help , you know , get the DFC to try to finance trusted telecommunications networks in developing countries around the world , you know , in competition with Huawei and other Chinese providers . Obviously , we’ve been doing a ton — both through DHS , CISA , also through various other mechanisms , modalities — to share cybersecurity , you know , operational information; how to have Shields Up posture , to provide that kind of practical assistance , as well . And then , of course , we’ve been , through our State and AID colleagues , doing things to sort of tangibly promote the Internet freedom agenda , right We’ve been , you know , providing , sort of , material support — you know , encryption technologies and things like that to NGOs around the world and in repressive societies . And then you’ve seen us , kind of at a policy level — I think you will see us through the IPEF and the digital provisions of the Indo - Pacific Economic Framework and through the work we’re doing at TTC , kind of at a regulatory level , drive that agenda . What we see here is a way to kind of , as we’re taking , you know , tangible steps in the assistance space , in the help the NGOs space , in the kind of global regulatory space — you know , this is a way of really re - energizing , at a principles - driven level , what the vision is that will then help build global support and drive all of these — drive further all of these kinds of individual , practical workstreams across the different areas of the vision that we’re pulling together and laying out tomorrow . MODERATOR: Great . I think we can do the next question , please . Q Hi , thanks for taking my question . I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about , I guess , what’s changed since December when you all were working on the Alliance for the Future of the Internet and , sort of , what lessons you all have learned and who you’ve talked to since then . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So I’ll be happy to discuss that . You know , we’ve been using the time since December to — essentially in recruitment and working with other countries — to sort of improve things . And I think that has really paid off . You know , I think that there’s now , as I said , more than 55 countries . You know , it takes time to sort of socialize an idea . Sometimes two steps is better than one . And I think if you look carefully at the — I shouldn’t — I don’t think I want to encourage you to compare it with leaked versions — but I think that , you know , we talked to a lot of partners . We recognize the importance of civil society and stakeholders in this . And , you know , some of the feedback that we got — as you’ve probably noticed , most obviously , the name has changed from “alliance” to “declaration . ” So that’s one area which changed . And we’ve envisioned things . You know , I think the underlying thinking is similar , but we envisioned this declaration as a useful tool for multiple other fora . And I made it just very clear , I think , that this works in harmony with and is a complement to existing fora . So , you know , it’s a reaffirming and an updating of the visions that anchored and powered some of the original Internet freedom work in the — from — over the last 20 years or so . But , yeah , I think that the delay has actually helped us quite a bit . MODERATOR: Great . I think we can do our next question , please . Q Hi , folks . I wonder if you might just briefly address what , if any , outreach you may have done on this initiative to Russia and China and what you may have heard back from them , if anything . Thanks . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’m not going to be in a position to get into specific diplomatic conversations with specific countries . What I would say is we’ve obviously — in addition to the countries that have joined and that might be joining , you know , if not tomorrow , in the coming weeks — we have — I guess I wouldn’t say — I don’t think this will come as a surprise to any countries , even countries that we always thought were unlikely to join this , but I’m not going to comment on specific diplomatic discussions . MODERATOR: Great . I think we have time for one more , so let’s do our last question , please . Q Hi , yeah , Ina with Axios . Thanks . Two things . One , some have called for something akin to a Geneva Convention governing what types of cyber warfare are and aren’t permissible . I’m guessing this is largely adjacent to that push , although there’s a little bit of discussion , I think , about protecting Internet infrastructure . But I want to make sure I have that correct . And then also , I’m curious: What role , if any , do the big tech companies play in this Were they — were you outreaching to them Do you see them as not — this is really about nation states , not companies So if you could clarify those two . Thanks . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah , I’ll take a stab . So , on the first: Yeah , this is not a — this is not about cyber warfare . I mean , I guess you’re right to say at the edge — you know , at the edge , there may be some overlap . We have principles related to cyber ransoms , electoral interference . Some people consider electoral interference to be the edge . So I think it’s compatible with some of the developing principles in cyber warfare , but it’s not a cyber warfare treaty or anything — or agreement . But you know what this does have in common is this increasing sense that there needs to be almost constitutional principles for countries that “it shalt and shall not” — things that should be off limits . And , you know , some people call for that in cyber warfare . But here we’re calling for it — or we’re agreeing on it , politically , more directly and in all kinds of areas , whether it’s unlawful surveillance of your citizens , whether it’s blocking legitimate news sources , whether it’s shutting down the Internet , and whether — or whether it’s , what I would say , interfering with elections of other countries . You know , I think there is a need . And this is the first — I’ll emphasize that this is the first document to bring all these concepts together and put them in one place in this fashion , be agreed to by so many countries , and then to sort of stand on it — to stand on its own . On the question — the related question is whether big tech is involved . I mean , they’re obviously stakeholders in this , and we’ve consulted , like any other stakeholder or any other member of civil society . But the primary impetus here was to get at this question of state behavior and to meet what we have seen is a very negative trajectory , what we’ve seen as an effort to fundamentally change the Internet — the nature of the Internet — from something that is an instrument of commerce and culture to something that is an instrument of state power . And , you know , we believe that winning this particular struggle is , frankly , key to — the key part of the overall struggle between democracies and authoritarian governments . So that’s the kind of — that’s the focus of this effort . MODERATOR: Great . And , [senior administration official] , you didn’t have anything to add , right SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No , no . I think [senior administration official] was — nothing to add to [senior administration official]’s comments . MODERATOR: Okay , great . So , everyone , thanks for joining us today . As a reminder , this call was on background , attributable to “senior administration officials . ” The contents of this call are embargoed until tomorrow , Thursday , April 28th , 7:00 a . m . Eastern . I’m about to send around the factsheet as well . Again , if you did not get the materials , please email NSC Press or email me . Thanks again , everyone , for joining . 4:28 P . M . EDT
PLAY the NEWS
* May be useful for visually impaired persons .
Press release information:
Direct link to press release
: Click here .