Recap: Advancing the Global Free Flow of Information

Earlier this week, we hosted a great conversation here at NDN on internet freedom and the global free flow of information. We heard from Daniel Calingaert, Deputy Director of Programs at Freedom House, and Anita Ramasastry of the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.

At Commerce, Ms. Ramasastry is also co-chair of the "Free Flow of Information on the Internet" working group in the Internet Policy Task Force. She spoke about the work of the IPTF, which has consisted of beginning to look at how censorship and restrictions on the free flow of information may impact trade, investment or economic growth. The Free Flow of Information working group has begun to meet with a number of stakeholders to determine the economic impact of restrictions and censorship, and is planning to publish a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that will formally reqeust input from stakeholders to determine what restrictions exist, where they exist, and what burden they impose on business. 

Mr. Calingaert opened his talk by asserting that the internet offers great potential to advance human freedom, but is under assault from authoritarian governments.  He observed that many the most restrictive regimes in the world had become a great deal more technologically sophisticated in their censorship, contributing to five years of decline in freedom. He offered four major policy efforts that need to be pursued to promote internet freedom: First, a strengthening of the international consensus around internet freedom and bringing together stakeholders with a commitment to these issues. Second, to stop western companies from abetting internet censorship and surveillance. Third, empowering netizens and giving them a voice to fight against restrictive practices. Fourth, restrictions on the free flow of information need to be challenged diplomatically and multilaterally.

But don't take my word for it... The full video, including the feisty Q&A session, is here (the sound is a little low, so you may have to crank the volume):