The Battle for Internet Governance: Authoritarian Agendas vs. Multistakeholder Norms

13 May 2024

You can jump to any part of the United States International Cyberspace & Digital Policy Strategy here. This part is 5 of 38.

Competing Internet Norms

Russia, the PRC, and other authoritarian states have promoted a vision of global Internet governance that centers on domestic control and top-down, state-centric mechanisms over the existing bottom-up multistakeholder processes. Russia and the PRC attempt to use multilateral fora like the UN to exert their influence on and appeal to developing countries, with the aim of reshaping the global cyber and technology policy landscape to advance an authoritarian agenda while hampering the United States and its allies. Russia, the PRC, and others seek to reshape norms governing cyberspace, undermine the technical underpinnings of the Internet, and dilute accountability for authoritarian countries’ malicious use of cyberspace capabilities.

Authoritarian governments are working to weaken global commitment to universal human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international legal instruments, such as the UN Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Authoritarian governments, most notably the PRC, are actively working to co-opt and redefine well-established terminology related to “democracy” and “human rights” in the context of international technology policy development, including through their input into the UN Pact for the Future process and its Global Digital Compact.

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This post was originally published on May 6, 2024, by the U.S Department of State