Activist countries

The United States and more than 55 other countries pledge to keep the Internet open

The United States and more than 55 other governments have pledged to strengthen online democracy by agreeing not to shut down internet access, use algorithms to illegally spy on citizens, or conduct disinformation campaigns to undermine the election, the White House said Thursday.

Governments have said they will not block or limit the scope of legal content or illegally access an individual’s personal data. Countries also pledged to promote access to the Internet and protect the safety of its users, especially young people and women.

The pledge is not legally binding, but countries including Ukraine, Argentina and New Zealand said in the document that it should “be used as a reference for public policy makers, as well as for citizens, businesses and civil society organisations”.

Governments that have aggressively regulated US tech giants, such as the European Commission, Britain and Australia, have also endorsed the pledge. Brazil and India, two of the most important markets for the technology in the world, did not.

Senior Biden administration officials said the pledge — called the Declaration for the Future of the Internet — has helped serve as a counterpoint to countries, like China and Russia, trying to cut the internet off from the Internet. rest of the world. One element of the pledge says countries will not create “social scorecards,” apparently a reference to China’s “social credit” system.

US officials have been particularly concerned in recent years about Beijing’s efforts to expand its influence on global technology. China has promoted its telecommunications equipment for use in 5G wireless networks and invested in domestic production of products such as microchips. Biden administration officials have spent months developing engagement; their efforts initially met with some resistance from activists and pundits who feared the measures included in a draft proposal last year would be difficult for smaller countries to sign on to.