Remarks for Global Internet Policy and the U.S.-Japan Alliance

Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda
Deputy Assistant Secretary and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, DC
May 10, 2016

As prepared


Thank you, Jim, and thank you to everyone here for joining us this morning. The U.S.-Japan relationship on global Internet policy is strong and our engagement is robust.

As we reaffirmed this February at the seventh U.S.-Japan Internet Economy Dialogue, close coordination and cooperation on Internet policy issues is essential to our mutual prosperity and the future of innovation.

The United States and Japan are leaders in the global digital economy, not just as producers and consumers, but as advocates for the policies that enable its existence and continued development. Our partnership is strong because we both believe that promoting continued global connectivity, with as little friction as possible injected into the transfer of ideas and information, holds the potential to help lift people out of poverty, formalize the informal economy around the world, increase the efficiency of supply chains, increase the productivity of workers, raise wages, and improve people’s lives.

Internet Economy Dialogue

In that context, both the United States and Japan can and are working together to ensure that our domestic digital initiatives are both enabling the digital economy and leveraging it for positive purposes. We conduct annual Internet Economy Dialogues to share information and ideas on a broad range of issues. At the seventh meeting in Tokyo this February we discussed our shared goals for the digital economy, including reaffirming the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, promoting the free flow of information, facilitating the Internet of Things and smart cities, expanding connectivity to everyone, using ICTs to address global challenges, and working to sensibly construct rules for the collection, use, and distribution of data in our markets in a way that protects privacy while enabling innovation.

Industry representatives from the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and Keidanren, the Japanese Business Association, also issued a joint industry statement, which emphasized that the free flow of data across borders was essential for the Internet economy to be the driver of global economic growth.

G7 ICT Ministerial

Most recently, as part of its G7 Presidency, Japan hosted a G7 ICT Ministers meeting in Takamatsu on April 29 and 30. This was significant because the G7 had not held an ICT Ministerial since 1995.

At that meeting, then U.S. Vice President Al Gore delivered a keynote address about the rapid spread of a new capacity to process communication information that would benefit all humankind. He said, “Just as human beings once dreamed of steamships, railroads and superhighways, we now dream of the global information infrastructure that can lead to a global information society.” Well, that dream is now a reality for billions of people, so it made sense to hold another G7 ICT ministerial last month.

This year, Under Secretary Novelli led the U.S. delegation to this important G7 ICT Ministers meeting. And, we are thrilled with the results.

The G7 ICT Ministers agreed on a new “Charter for the Digitally Connected World,” which lays out a long-term vision; a joint declaration of short term actions; and an annex with opportunities for international collaboration.

The outcomes reaffirm fundamental principles which underpin the digitally connected world, including promoting and protecting human rights, promoting and protecting the free flow of information, supporting the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance, and strengthening digital connectivity and inclusiveness for all.

They emphasize G7 members’ shared views on the importance of privacy protection, cybersecurity, access to ICTs, policy environments that foster innovation, and using ICTs to address global challenges.

It is critical that we continue to widen our engagement to preserve Internet openness. The G7 Summit will take place later this May, and we hope that they also reflect upon the importance of the digital economy, and the successful outcomes of the G7 ICT Ministerial. We will continue to build upon these outcomes as we go into future global ICT policy events later this year at the UN, the G20, and the OECD Digital Economy Ministerial. At the OECD Ministerial, we will support a statement reaffirming our commitment to unrestricted access to the Internet, free flows of data across national borders, and a policy environment supportive of innovation as key elements for continued growth of the digital economy.

Global Connect Initiative

The G7 ICT Ministers also welcomed the Global Connect Initiative that was first previewed by Secretary Kerry almost a year ago and launched by Under Secretary Novelli last fall. Since that time, the Global Connect initiative has highlighted over 65 new and existing connectivity initiatives totaling over $20 billion. At this year’s G7, all members supported the Global Connect Initiative’s goal of bringing an additional 1.5 billion people online by 2020.

The Global Connect Initiative has three interrelated objectives for achieving this overall goal: One, to encourage all countries to make internet access central to all development and growth initiatives. Two, to work in cooperation with multilateral development institutions in order to double public and private lending for connectivity and digital technologies. And three, to harness the knowledge, skills, and resources of the tech community itself to implement solutions for high-speed, affordable broadband access.

In doing this, we recognize that building Internet infrastructure is only one step in digital inclusion. Creating a policy environment that sustains a healthy Internet by encouraging investment and innovation is critical for long term success. As reflected in our connectivity principles for Global Connect, we intend to partner with interested countries to develop tailor-made strategies to create the right enabling environments. These policies will not only spur connectivity but also entrepreneurship, cross-border information flows and open and competitive marketplaces.

We are building a broad network of countries, institutions, and private stakeholders who will work together to promote and support global broadband connectivity.

Just a few weeks ago, on April 14, the U.S. Department of State and the World Bank co-hosted a high-level event with Secretary Kerry and President Kim. At the high-level event, we were joined by key stakeholders in industry, international financial institutions, and the NGO community, who pledged to support the Global Connect effort.

I was particularly appreciative that Japan’s Vice Minister Sakamoto, from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), was able to participate in the Global Connect Initiative high level event, and that Japan contributed several items to the “Global Actions” outcome document. We look forward to further discussions on possible collaboration between the Global Connect Initiative and Japan’s Partnership for Quality Infrastructure.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

I cannot conclude without mentioning the important role that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will play in supporting our shared goals toward strengthening the global Internet.

The goal is to establish a joint commitment among signatories to policies that encourage private sector investments in the networks that enable the transmission of data across borders by protecting against data localization for example and preserving the free flow of information over the communications networks that connect people and nations. These are critical elements to the future of the Internet.

Those provisions, which will cover hundreds of millions of people, once ratified can set an example for the rest of the world to follow.

The Internet represents the digital shipping lane for 21st century goods and services, and as such, our pending agreements with nations in the Pacific community will establish rules for the preservation of those virtual shipping lanes as enablers of the transport of services and ideas, allowing startups and the voices of everyday people to challenge incumbent power in markets and ideas.


The United States and Japan share a common vision for the future of the global digital economy, and together we’ll continue to focus on expanding connectivity, keeping digital trade routes open, and creating policy environments that sustain growth and foster innovation. These are valuable, long term efforts and we have the strong bonds as friends and allies that will help us succeed.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to your questions.