US Pledges to Keep an Open Internet With Dozens of Other Countries

The nonbinding agreement comes in the face of rising authoritarianism online, the White House says.

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Dozens of countries have declared support for a free internet.

Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

The US, along with 60 other countries and partners, has pledged to keep an open internet in the face of "rising digital authoritarianism, the White House said in a statement Thursday. The Declaration for the Future of the Internet includes commitments to protecting human rights, making internet connections "inclusive and affordable," and promoting the free flow of information. 

While the agreement is nonbinding, it should be "used as a reference for public policy makers, as well as citizens, businesses and civil society organizations," the declaration reads.

Countries like China and Russia are missing from the list. Restrictions placed on the internet by those countries are part of the reason the declaration is necessary, a senior administration official told reporters. Later, an official called an open internet "the key part of the overall struggle between democracies and authoritarian governments."

It's unclear at this time if any specific, new actions will come on the heels of the declaration.

The declaration can be seen as an effort to avoid the "splinternet," or the fragmenting of the internet into siloed information ecosystems and infrastructures. That makes it harder for individuals to access the internet. Digital authoritarianism has been rising for years.