Stakeholders Hope for Tough Trump Stance on Global Internet Rules

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By Ayanna Alexander

Stakeholders are hopeful that the Trump administration will champion internet civil liberties amid increased pressures such as trade issues and rising cybersecurity threats.

Speakers at a June 14 internet freedom policy event at the Brookings Institution discussed restrictive policies in some countries and said it was important for the U.S. to keep advocating for an open internet.

“I am a realist in the sense that the pressures are different today than before,” Ambassador David Gross, a partner at Wiley Rein LLP, said. Still, Gross said he expects the administration to have a “strong and clear set of messages.”

Sally Shipman Wentworth, vice president of global policy development at the Internet Society, said that the U.S. should continue in a “strong leadership role” in championing internet freedoms.

“We are a leader in technology,” Wentworth said. “There will be a lot of challenges, but our strong hope is that there will be strength coming from the Trump administration.”

According to a study by the advocacy group Freedom House cited at the event, two thirds of internet users live in countries that censor criticism of the government or military. The study also found that 27 percent of global internet users live in countries that have made arrests for publishing or sharing content on social media.

Gross, the former U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy at the State Department, predicted the Trump administration will back global internet freedoms.

“We live in a partisan time, but I have every reason to be optimistic,” Gross said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ayanna Alexander in Washington at aalexander@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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