Published On: Mon, Sep 24th, 2018

White House issues ‘National Cyber Stategy’ vowing to maintain ‘Internet freedom’

Today, the White House released its 2018 National Cyber Strategy, outlining the steps the federal government is taking to advance an open, secure, interoperable, and reliable cyberspace. Given the interconnected and global nature of cyberspace, the State Department engages in key diplomatic and programmatic initiatives to support many key objectives reflected in the Strategy.

To preserve cyberspace as an engine of a vibrant digital economy, the United States works with foreign partners and other stakeholder groups, including civil society and the private sector, to promote best practices and policies that enhance innovation, openness, and efficiency. Through cooperation and engagements with foreign partners, allies and other stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, the Department supports the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance against attempts to develop state-centric governance models and rejects the use of spurious cybersecurity concerns as a pretext for digital protectionism.

We are also committed to building the cyber capacity of our international partners. Through direct capacity building efforts, we assist partners in establishing and executing national cybersecurity strategies, addressing cybercrime, instituting cybersecurity standards, and protecting critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Because of the interconnected nature of cyberspace, when our partners improve their cybersecurity practices, it ultimately makes other states, including the United States, safer and more resilient against cyber threats.

photo/Darwin Laganzon

Internet freedom is a core principle of the National Cyber Strategy, which the Department promotes through a variety of bilateral and multilateral engagements, as well as through foreign assistance programming. This includes engagement through the Freedom Online Coalition, a group of 30 governments committed to advancing Internet freedom via multilateral diplomacy and multi-stakeholder collaboration with civil society, the private sector, and other stakeholders. The Department’s efforts also focus on raising concerns bilaterally about actions that governments may take to restrict access to the Internet or suppress free speech online, and urging U.S.-based Internet companies to respect human rights and implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as they design and carry out their commercial activities. We provide support for technology development, digital safety, policy advocacy, and research. Since 2008, the State Department has provided over $165 million in foreign assistance to support Internet freedom programs.

Finally, we are addressing malicious state-sponsored cyber activity that is inherently destabilizing and contrary to the national interests of the United States and its partners and allies. Through cooperation with foreign partners and allies, and engagement with other stakeholders as appropriate, we advocate for a framework of responsible state behavior in cyberspace built upon international law, adherence to voluntary non-binding norms of responsible state behavior that apply during peacetime, and the implementation of practical confidence building measures to reduce the risk of conflict stemming from malicious cyber activity. We also work to ensure that there are consequences for disruptive cyber behavior that harms the United States and our partners, with recognition that all instruments of national and international policy are available to prevent, respond to, and deter malicious cyber activity against the United States.

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