Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet

Internet Security

The Council on Foreign Relations has published a report titled, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet.

From the report: “Over the course of the last four decades, the Internet has developed from an obscure government science experiment to one of the cornerstones of modern life. It has transformed commerce, created social and cultural networks with global reach, and become a surprisingly powerful vehicle for political organization and protest alike. And it has achieved all of this despite–or perhaps because of–its decentralized character.”

The Internet now connects approximately 2.5 billion people across the globe, and users are expected to double by the end of the decade, especially in parts of the developing world. However, our increasingly interconnected world is also becoming increasingly vulnerable to disruption, and the safety and security of the Internet is now “under threat from a number of directions. States are erecting barriers to the free flow of information to and through their countries. […] Other countries’ efforts to control the Internet have gone far beyond limiting hate speech or pornography. Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and others have considered building national computer networks that would tightly control or even sever connections to the global Internet.”

According to the report, in order to successfully tackle the challenges of the digital age, there must be “a rethinking of domestic institutions and processes that were designed for the twentieth century.” The United States, along with its allies, should act proactively “to ensure the Internet remains an open, global, secure, and resilient environment for users.”

The report outlines four pillars upon which U.S. digital policy can stand while promoting security, innovation, and the free flow of information:

1. Alliances: Establishing a cyber alliance of like-minded actors from the public and private sector
2. Trade: Making the free flow of information a part of all future trade agreements
3. Governance: Creating a vision of Internet governance that includes emerging Internet powers
4. Security: Developing new, more resilient approaches to protect critical infrastructure

As the report states: “The United States can no longer rely on its role as the progenitor of the Internet to claim the mantle of leadership. Rather, it can exert a positive influence on cyberspace by working to convince the next wave of users that an open and global Internet is in all of our interests.”

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