To protect the future of the internet, US-led tech diplomacy must change tack – TechCrunch


The TechCrunch Global Affairs Project Examine the increasingly intertwined relationships between the technology sector and global politics.

In the wake of the recent Summit for Democracy, the United States should form a new “alliance for the future of the Internet” for “similar democracy” to maintain open and liberal values ​​online. I suggested.up to date A long line of cooperation initiatives, It is a promising candidate for making progress. However, with the current outfit, there is a risk of shortage.Now with a disagreement between the authorities Delay After launch, the United States needs to take this opportunity to rethink.

The underlying logic behind the alliance remains sound. Internet freedom is increasingly threatened worldwide, governments are competing to claim their authority, and decades of governance systems formed by voluntary organizations are now squeezing. ..As Tim Wu, recently adviser to the Biden administration on technology policy Said, “We are on the wrong track.” Against this background, there is an urgent need for new initiatives to promote and uphold open and liberal values ​​in the Internet age.

But in reality, the United States’ cooperation with a focus on “equal democracy” carries the risk of defeating its own goals. That’s because the future of the open internet isn’t secured either by small democratic clubs that only talk to themselves, or by adopting coercion alone. Instead, every alliance must be much more comprehensive and should focus on setting economic and security incentives from the beginning and building a long-term, broadly sustainable alliance.

This represents a far more international approach to Internet policy than the United States normally needs to adopt. For decades, large-scale jurisdiction in the United States has undertaken the open Internet model. Despite the fact that only 7.1% of the world’s Internet users are based in the United States There are 61% of the core infrastructure services of the global internet.. Its advantages support unauthorized innovation, interoperable networks, and models of “dumb pipes” (infrastructure where you cannot see what content is being transferred), such a huge economic and social model. Creating value. Only China, home to 19% of the world’s Internet users, has equal geopolitical influence.

Still, US hegemony can no longer rely on maintaining a free internet. Many countries are at a turning point in the way the Internet is governed, and authoritarian Internet models such as censorship, surveillance, and shutdown are rapidly becoming widespread. And today, 3.7 billion people still do not have access to the internet.

As connectivity improves, the developing countries in which most of this group live will determine the future of the Internet. Now you are more likely to receive the money you need from China than anywhere else. The move to the multipolar Internet is natural, but not in its direction (open or closed, liberal or authoritarian).

For these trends, focusing solely on cooperation between democracies today is equivalent to over-indexing in smaller and smaller sections of the Internet. Organizing around values ​​also highlights areas that traditional allies have not yet agreed upon. EU, US, etc. in some areas of internet regulation.. Therefore, for the alliance to succeed, it goes beyond the general cliché of “similar partners” to provide economic and security incentives along with efforts to openness the Internet, such as banning the closure of the Internet. We need to take two approaches: prioritize. A wide set of participating countries.

This strategy is especially important to convince countries that are increasingly considering more restrictive Internet policies. For example, since 2015, 31 out of 54 African countries have blocked access to social media to some extent.Undoubtedly, some of these shutdowns are with obvious crackdowns We need to respond to a strong international response.. Yet other interventions were less ideological: confusing policies, low state capabilities, and content moderation from major social media services when online violent content worried leaders about public safety. The combination of underinvestment in rations led to disappointing behavior that would otherwise have been avoided with greater support.

It’s never too late to stop this trend and secure the freedom of the core Internet. However, such efforts cannot be successful by coercion alone. The fight against authoritarianism is very important, but allowing all discussions to be wrapped in a polarized term “democracy vs. authoritarianism” actually concludes the opportunity for cooperation and is greater. It only accelerates restrictions and fragmentation. The effects of this corrosive discourse are already seen in Africa, where Western countries are located. Too often, it just treats the United States as a “proxy war” in the larger US-China “Cold War.” Neither of these concepts is useful.

China is not a monolith. At the same time, they are Western partners, competitors, and adversaries. The United States, EU and other countries cannot drive China out of the global Internet infrastructure market. Africa, the United States, and China are all better served by the globally competitive markets of Internet infrastructure, with no state monopolizing their offerings or supporting the entire bill.

Similarly, African countries not only have their own political priorities and challenges, but providing support is often in the western’s own economic interests. For example, connecting all 3.7 billion people without internet access costs only 0.02% of the total national income of OECD countries (groups of countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan). Generates a huge 25x return..

But when the G7 launched this year’s “Build Back Better World” project, which was designed to compete with China’s infrastructure offerings, there was no new funding. Meanwhile, little effort has been made to reform the World Bank and the IMF’s development programs, making them uncompetitive, bureaucratic and risk-averse for many African leaders facing fragile development channels and urgent job creation demands. Despite the cost of doing so, the United States can have an impact.

For years, we lacked the political leadership and ambition needed for this type of program. But the Alliance for the Future of the Internet may offer a reset.To be successful, it must be displayed There is no way to prosperity that undermines the freedom of the core internetIt also provides appropriate guidance and incentives to enable different approaches. There are always countries that don’t sign up, but these strong incentives can convince many “swing states” — Indonesia, Kenya, Brazil, etc. – participate. The open and global Internet is truly long-term protected only by building a broad and internationalist coalition in the economic and security interests of all to maintain.

Read more from the TechCrunch Global Affairs Project

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