A Thriving Digital Economy Needs a Free and Open Internet

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A Thriving Digital Economy Needs a Free and Open Internet


Category: Business News

Digital technologies have quickly become a driving force of job creation, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the 21st century. Just a decade ago, less than a fifth of the global population had Internet access.  

Today, 3.2 billion people are online. By 2020, that number will grow to five billion people. That same year, the emerging “Internet of Things” sector will likely comprise a $1.7 trillion global market. By 2025, products and services that rely on cross-border data flows will add $1 trillion annually to the global economy.

However, as the digital economy grows, businesses, governments and people are faced with new challenges. Cybersecurity threats are on the rise. Notions of privacy are being upended.

Automation is changing the nature of work for our people and disrupting entire industries.  For governments, perhaps the greatest challenge of all is responding to these changes in ways that help – rather than hinder – the ability of our people to adapt, compete, and succeed in this new world.

In short, the digital economy’s continued growth is not guaranteed. It depends on our commitment to the revolutionary platform that made it all possible: the free and open Internet.

The Obama Administration has worked to implement a host of policies and programs that support and strengthen innovation in the digital economy. At the Department of Commerce, we have played a leading role in shaping those policies, initiatives, and strategies necessary to ensure continued American digital competitiveness.

Our activities have focused on a number of areas, from protecting and preserving a free and open Internet, to promoting trust online, to ensuring that workers, families, and companies have broadband access to the Internet.

New report

Today, I am pleased to release a new report, “Enabling Growth and Innovation in the Digital Economy,” which chronicles our efforts over the past eight years to support a free and open Internet and a thriving digital economy.

The report highlights the work being done Department-wide to support a more inclusive, dynamic, and productive digital economy for the American people and the users of digital technologies around the world.

Simply put: When it comes to protecting a free and open Internet, we do not just “talk the talk.” We “walk the walk.”

While the report details a broad array of the Department of Commerce’s work to support growth in the digital economy, I want to highlight some key initiatives:

As part of the Administration’s efforts to promote trust online and the free flow of data globally, the International Trade Administration (ITA) hasled negotiations with the European Union on the creation of the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework, which is aimed at bridging the gap between U.S. and European privacy policy.

This agreement will support the $260 billion we already trade in digital products and services each year and encourage future growth.

Domestically, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has worked to implement the President’s privacy blueprint to enhance consumer privacy online.


And the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has  spearheaded the Department’s work to combat the rise of cybersecurity threats through its Cybersecurity Framework, which consists of international standards and practices to promote cybersecurity risk management, and other initiatives.

The Department has championed the multistakeholder-led approach to Internet governance as the most effective means to preserve a free and open Internet.

There is no better demonstration of our support of multistakeholder governance than our effort to transition our stewardship role of the Internet Domain Name System to the global multistakeholder community.  The NTIA has led the way by working to complete this effort andpreserve multistakeholder governance of the Internet.

As part of our efforts to support innovators and entrepreneurs, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and NTIA collaborated on an important White Paper that recommended amendments to U.S. copyright law to provide continued meaningful protection for intellectual property while promoting innovation.

And finally we have made great progress in promoting broadband access and adoption through NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and BroadbandUSA programs and the Department’s work on the Broadband Opportunity Council.

This work is focused on ensuring Americans have access to the digital platforms and skills needed to succeed in the 21st Century.

I am extremely proud of the work we have done to promote policies and initiatives to ensure the United States continues to lead the global digital revolution and help promote economic growth and prosperity.

However, we realize there is still much more to be done and will remain focused on supporting and harnessing advances in digital technologies and services to the continued benefit of the American people and the entire world for years to come.