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Internet Economy

The United States is committed to preserving and nurturing an open Internet and shaping global Internet norms that support economic opportunity and that can promote human rights. By working with other OECD members, the United States develops and promotes policy and regulatory principles, guidelines and best practices for the future development of an open and free Internet Economy.

The Internet is a formidable generator of jobs.  It is the biggest innovation incubator in the world, with a global reach never before achieved in human history.  According to McKinsey & Company, the Internet has generated as much growth over the past 15 years as the Industrial Revolution generated in 50 years.  None of this would be true or have been possible if the internet were not an open system.

The OECD has historically played an important role in socializing an open and light-handed policy approach. It’s Ottawa Ministerial in 1998 called for an industry-led approach to Internet governance and its Seoul Ministerial 10 years later laid out high-level principles on the Future of the Internet Economy. The OECD e-commerce guidelines created a basic framework which helped e-commerce expand by balancing protections with freedom of commerce.  Today as differences emerge among countries about how to protect privacy, intellectual property, consumers, and children, the OECD provides a much-needed forum to exchange views, generate guidelines, and expand the circle of consensus.

In September 2010, at U.S. urging, the OECD began an ambitious endeavor to identify a common path forward on Internet policy.  Principles were developed through the OECD’s transparent, multi-stakeholder process developed new Internet Policymaking Principles that were unveiled at the U.S.-initiated global meeting on the Internet Economy: Generating Innovation and Growth in July 2011. These principles include:

  • Promoting and protecting the global free flow of information
  • Advocating the open, distributed and interconnected nature of the internet
  • Co-operating in multi-stakeholder policy development processes
  • Ensuring transparency, fair process and accountability
  • Strengthening consistency and effectiveness in privacy protection
  • Maximizing individual empowerment
  • Promoting Creativity and innovation
  • Limiting internet intermediary liability

The United States continues to engage within the OECD to provide guidance on how the Internet can increase economic prosperity around the globe. Current areas of work include:

  • Researching the impacts of Internet and related ICTs in addressing climate change and improving energy efficiency;
  • Refining the role of various actors, including intermediaries, in meeting goals for the Internet Economy;
  • Improving statistical systems to measure how citizens, businesses and institutions are accessing and using the Internet and related ICT networks;
  • Assessing the application of current OECD instruments addressing consumer protection and empowerment, including the development of a Consumer Policy Toolkit.