Does the United States act in accordance with the same principles that we advocate to others? The answer needs to be yes.
When it comes to the debate on network neutrality, the world watches what we do at home. That’s one reason that the President’s commitment to network neutrality is so important: In the struggle to protect a global, open, and free internet, we must also protect it at home.
The President’s recent call to enshrine network neutrality principles in domestic regulation echoes our diplomatic efforts to prevent any centralized power—corporate or governmental—from picking winners and losers on the internet, as well as our efforts to promote freedom of expression and the free flow of information online. The President’s leadership on this issue comes at a critical time: Every day we see examples of governments around the world taking unfortunate steps to inhibit internet access, restrict freedom of expression, and impose barriers to the free flow of information.
The Russian government, just last month, pressured social media companies to block access to pages used to organize peaceful political protests. In China, authorities have blocked Gmail and Google search. In addition to ongoing and systematic efforts to control content and punish Chinese citizens who run afoul of political sensitivities, such measures are an effort to further diminish the Chinese people’s access to information, while effectively favoring Chinese Internet companies by blocking other providers from accessing its market. In Turkey, the government blocked access to Twitter for several weeks last year after the company refused to take down tweets that the government found politically objectionable. And in Hungary, there was an effort last autumn to impose a tax on data flows—a form of mandating paid access to users—which was ultimately abandoned after pressure from the public and the EU.