Internet Society Statement on U.S. Clean Network Program

This statement was first published on 7 August 2020 on the ISOC website

We are very disappointed. The United States, the country that funded the early development of the Internet, is now considering policies that would fracture it into pieces. This is part of a larger disturbing trend where governments directly interfere with the Internet, attempting to score short-term political points without regard to the long-term damage that results.

The Internet is a global network of networks, where networks interconnect on a voluntary basis with no central authority. It is this architecture that has made the Internet so successful. Today’s announcement of the U.S. Clean Network program challenges this architecture at its very core.

The “Clean Carrier” and “Clean Cable” programs alone would force vast amounts of Internet traffic to route into third countries, extending the distances data must traverse, increasing the potential for surveillance and manipulation of Internet traffic, increasing the risk of Internet outages, and in general increasing costs to everyone on the Internet.

Having a government dictate how networks interconnect according to political considerations rather than technical considerations, runs contrary to the very idea of the Internet. Such interventions will significantly impact the agility, resiliency and flexibility of the Internet.

If this approach were to spread further, the ability of the Internet to bring the broader benefits of collaboration, global reach, and economic growth will be significantly threatened.

Policies like these only increase the global momentum towards a “Splinternet” — a fractured network, rather than the Internet we have built over the last four decades and need now more than ever.

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