Remarks on the Release of President Obama Administration's International Strategy for Cyberspace

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The White House
Washington, DC
May 16, 2011

[Also available in Arabic, Chinese, FrenchPersian, Russian  and Spanish]

Well, thank you very much. As you can guess from John’s introductory remarks, we are very pleased this day has come. We are delighted at the extraordinary work that has been done across our government with the unveiling of this International Strategy for Cyberspace, and we look forward to partnering with our private sector, with other nations, and with others who share the goal that is set forth in this new document that really tries to achieve the goal that is set forth in the very beginning, and that is, the United States will work internationally to promote an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable information and communications infrastructure that supports international trade and commerce, strengthens international security, and fosters free expression and innovation. To achieve that goal, we will build and sustain an environment in which norms of responsible behavior guides states actions, sustains partnerships, and support the rule of law in cyberspace.

 This is a policy that very much sums up what the United States seeks. Many of you representing the governments of other countries, as well as the private sector or foundations or civil society groups, share our commitment to ensuring that the internet remains open, secure, and free, not only for the 2 billion people who are now online, but for the billions more who will be online in the years ahead.

What they are able to do in cyberspace, whether they can exchange ideas and opinions openly, freely explore the subjects of their choosing, stay safe from cyber criminals, and engage in professional and personal activities online, confident that doing so will remain private and secure, depends a great deal on the policies that we will adopt together.

Now, many of you know that the State Department has staked out a position as a leader on internet freedom, and I see Alec Ross, who has headed our efforts on that. This is one critical aspect of cyber policy. But we know very well that the numbers of issues seem to be infinitely expanding, and we need to develop, deploy, and coordinate policies that address the full array of cyber issues. That is what the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace is intended to help us do. Because it does, as John said, bring together, for the first time under one framework, all the different policies that the United States is pursuing into an integrated whole-of-government approach.

It also articulates, for the first time, all of the principles that guide our work – those that infuse our foreign policy, such as upholding the fundamental freedoms that we consider internet freedom to be part of, and all the other aspects of this policy that will be addressed by my colleagues. We try to really tackle all of the difficult issues and challenges that cyberspace presents. And we know very well that everything we’ve written today we will have to keep updating as new challenges and opportunities arise. Because while the internet offers new ways for people to exercise their political rights, it also, as we have seen very clearly in the last months, gives governments new tools for clamping down on dissent. And while the internet creates new economic opportunities for people at every point on the development spectrum, it also gives criminals new openings to steal personal data and intellectual property. And while the internet makes it possible for governments and people to collaborate more closely across borders, it presents new terrain for conflict, when states or other actors deliberately disrupt networks or when terrorists use the internet to organize attacks.

So, we seek to maximize the internet’s tremendous capacity to accelerate human progress, while sharpening our response and our tools to deal with the threats and the problems and the disputes that are part of cyberspace.

Now, as we look at this strategy, I want to be clear about what it is not. It is not a series of prescriptions, and that’s an important distinction. Because as we work to achieve a cyberspace that is open, interoperable, secure, and reliable, there is no one-size-fits-all, straightforward route to that goal. We have to build a global consensus around a shared vision for the future of cyberspace to make sure it serves, rather than impedes, the social, economic, and political aspirations of people worldwide. And that can only happen through patient, persistent, and creative diplomacy.

So the strategy identifies seven key policy priorities that will be the focus of our diplomatic outreach going forward. They are: first, economic engagement to encourage innovation and trade while safeguarding intellectual property; second, cyber security to protect our networks and strengthen international security; third, law enforcement to improve our ability to respond to cyber-crime, including by strengthening international laws and regulations where appropriate; next, military cooperation to help our alliances do more together to confront cyber threats while ensuring that our military’s networks remain protected; next, multi-stakeholder internet governance so that networks work the way they should; and then, development to support the rise of new partners by helping countries develop their digital infrastructure and build their capacity to withstand cyber threats; and finally, but for us very importantly, internet freedom. We want to do more together to protect privacy and secure fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, online as we do offline. Together, these seven priorities comprise a new foreign policy imperative for which the State Department has been exercising and will continue to have a leading role.

Now, what we are trying to do in furtherance of those imperatives is to integrate cyber issues into our programs across the board, from our cooperation with other nations to stop criminal cartels, to our economic diplomacy, to our support for girls and women worldwide. We’ve created our 21st century statecraft agenda to harness new technologies to achieve our diplomatic and development goals, and we want to continue to press forward on this with the partners that we see here before us. We are sponsoring capacity-building efforts around the world to help more countries play a bigger role in the internet. And as our focus on internet freedom clearly describes, we are supporting the efforts of human rights and democracy activists to ensure that they have access to an open internet. We are funding cutting-edge programs to give them the tools and the know-how to communicate effectively and safely to get their message out, even as governments try to silence them or cut them off from the internet.

To coordinate these and other efforts, we’ve created the new Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues. Chris Painter, a longtime expert in the field, is now on the job at the State Department, having joined us from the White House and the NSC, where he helped lead the development of the strategy we’re releasing today. Chris’s office is taking the lead at the State Department as we work with other nations and partners to promote these broad goals.

Now, we’re entering a next phase in our engagement with cyberspace based on this strategy, and we’re seeing how countries are adjusting their own policies and approaches. And we’re understanding that we can’t have disparate, stoved-piped discussions, because as many countries have begun to focus more on internet policies and as more citizens have gone online, too often the international discussions we have about cyber issues deals with each of these challenges separately. Our diplomats meet with their counterparts on cyber crime, and then on another occasion on internet freedom, and then finally, on a third, on network security.

We are not dealing with these issues internationally in a coordinated, integrated fashion, and so now we will based on our strategy. And our hope is that you will actually read this strategy, that you will engage with us on it, that you will look at, understand our principles and our approach, and then join us in helping to put them into practice. We are seeing cyberspace transform before our very eyes. Now we have to shape that transformation, and we are excited that this strategy is going to give us the roadmap that we will follow going forward. And I look forward to working with you in the months ahead to translate this strategy into action. And it’s now my pleasure to introduce my colleague, Attorney General Eric Holder. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/760