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Economic Potential of a Free and Open Internet

A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this Feb. 28, 2013 illustration file picture.

The present,multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance helps to protect fundamental freedoms online and promote continuous innovation.

For many years now, the United States has been an unequivocal advocate for a free and open internet: a de-centralized, inclusive platform that belongs to everyone, one that is free from arbitrary intergovernmental control. We do this because the present multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance helps to protect fundamental freedoms online and promote continuous innovation, allowing all stakeholders to have a voice and to express themselves, and also because the internet has an unprecedented potential to facilitate economic growth and create opportunities for developed, emerging, and developing economies alike.

Economic Potential of a Free and Open Internet
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Today, more than half of the world’s population has no access to the internet. At the same time, over the next decade, globally, some 1.8 billion new consumers will enter the marketplace. As Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin recently said, “Almost all of them will be from emerging markets. This will create increased demand and global production, which means economic opportunities. . . as well as improved goods and services for emerging and developing country consumers.”

That’s because the internet enables even the smallest companies and entrepreneurs to sell their products, services, and ideas internationally. “In emerging and developing nations, whose small businesses are so often the backbone of their economies, this access to global markets would have dramatic results,” said Assistant Secretary Rivkin.

The internet will link entrepreneurs and small manufacturers to global supply chains. “By connecting more people to each other and the information and services available, we could help ensure that all populations have access to technology.We can also ensure that no singular group is excluded due to barriers such as prohibitively high costs, lack of network connectivity, or social or cultural hurdles.”

The global digital economy is “rapidly transforming the emerging markets that are the key to future growth and globally shared prosperity,” said Assistant Secretary Rivkin.

“With something so essential, beneficial and central, to modern life, it’s imperative that we do everything in our power to preserve this precious asset. We must do so thoughtfully and with our eyes firmly focused on the futures of our children.”