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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Open and Flexible Governance of the Internet

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: For just a moment, imagine not being able to send an email to your family or friends. Imagine not being able to Google the location of a new restaurant or search a topic online. If you can’t even fathom these scenarios, you’re not alone.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: Whether you realize it or not, the Internet has become central to our daily lives. More than that, it has become essential to the health of the U.S. economy, providing economic and social benefits across the globe.

Images: Internet café in Tibet. @ AP Image; Office with flags. @ AP image; @EconEngage twitter screenshot.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: Let me ask you another question. Have you ever wondered how URLs are named? URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator – basically the address where you can find something on-line.

Images: Screenshot of google search; ICANN Public Forum sign. @ AP Image; Globe with computer code. @ AP Image; Google sign. @ AP Image.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: Right now, all interested groups - including governments, businesses, and civil society – share responsibility for naming URLs. This system ensures certain standards of use, while at the same time allowing the Internet to remain flexible and free.

Images: Men working at laptops. @ AP Image; Room of computers. @ AP Images; Facebook sign. @ AP Images.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: But some governments are trying to regulate the Internet within and beyond their own borders. Some countries are seeking limits on freedom of expression and the free flow of information. Others have called for the creation of a new UN body to manage global Internet policies.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: We say don’t fix what is not broken. The Internet has grown beyond anyone’s imagination in the last decade. That is why we will continue to fight for the current system of governance and work with other countries to preserve the Internet’s growth potential. We will strive to convince developing nations to reject a state-controlled Internet, burdened by censorship, filtering, and snooping. And we will continue to promote Secretary Clinton’s vision of Internet freedom.

Images: People at a conference. @ AP Image; Facebook t-shirt. @ AP Image; Facebook screenshot; Internet café in China. @ AP Image.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: The Internet has led to enormous global benefits, and it promises to do even more in the coming decades. It is our job to tell that story and to maintain an open and free Internet.


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