China, India, Russia missing from future of internet pledge by US, EU, and 33 others


The United States, European Union, ex-EU member the United Kingdom, and 32 other nations have committed to the Declaration for the Future of the Internet [PDF], an agreement to strengthen democracy online by agreeing to not undermine elections by running online misinformation campaigns, or illegally spy on people, the White House said on Thursday.

The declaration also commits to promote safety, particularly among young people and women, and the equitable use of the internet. Further, the countries have agreed to refrain from imposing government-led shutdowns and committed to providing affordable and reliable internet services.

Although not legally binding, the declaration states that the principles should be used “as a reference for public policy makers, as well as citizens, businesses, and civil society organizations”.

In a statement the White House claimed it would work together with partner nations to promote the declaration’s principles, but that a mutual respect should be held for each individual nation’s regulatory autonomy.

So far, 60 countries have endorsed the declaration, and according to the European Commission, more are expected to join in the coming weeks.

Notable omissions include India, China, and Russia. Their absence is hardly surprising given that Ukraine is a signatory, and that the declaration calls on countries to refrain from using social score cards, a transparent criticism of China’s social credit score.

Meanwhile, a senior Biden administration official responded to India’s absence by claiming “the hope remains that time isn’t fully passed yet for India to join”.

Google responded in support of the declaration, but made clear that the private sector must also play an important role in furthering internet standards when faced with global crisis.

“Since Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, our teams have been working around the clock to support people in Ukraine through our products, defend against cybersecurity threats, and surface high-quality, reliable information,” said Google in a statement.

Microsoft president and vice chair Brad Smith shared this sentiment as he claimed in a blog post that governments cannot manage the global challenges facing the management of the internet alone.

“We need new and innovative internet initiatives that bring governments together with NGOs, academic researchers, tech companies and many others from across the business community,” said Smith.

Signatories beyond the US, UK, and 27 EU members include: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Palau, Peru, Senegal, Serbia, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, and Uruguay.

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