Defending digital freedom in the competition for the future global order


The United States could lose the digital future in two ways, according to Defending Digital Freedom and the Competition for the Future of the Global Order, an initial foray into a larger agenda to tackle a key element of the technology competition between open, democratic societies and closed, authoritarian systems:

  • The first would be to standby as the world’s digital infrastructure and future technology platforms are built and dominated by authoritarian regimes led by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  • The second would be if the rest of the world, democratic and non-democratic alike, loses confidence in a digital future anchored in the principles of free speech, the protection of human rights, and the right to privacy, and instead drifts toward authoritarianism by a series of choices individual states make within their borders.

In either case, the world becomes inhospitable to the interests of the United States and our allies and partners, bad for our businesses, and hostile to democratic values, the authors suggest.

A Digital Freedom Playbook?

Recent protests in China and Iran are vivid reminders that citizens on the ground can still mobilize and communicate, even in closed information environments and in spite of powerful digital surveillance – often with assistance of circumvention technologies, adds the report, from the Special Competitive Studies Project’s Foreign Policy Panel Interim Panel:

In Ukraine, the government, civil society, and international partners provide a new model of how to defend against external attacks and affirm the power of an interconnected digital democracy…..The convergence of interests among democratic governments, digital freedom advocates, and private sector firms to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion offers an important model to reinforce the multi-stakeholder approach to address the spectrum of digital freedom threats that will define the immediate future. 


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