Seven G-20 Commitments to Promote Innovation and the Digital Economy

Last week’s G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China showed that U.S. leadership has driven a growing global consensus on a number of issues central to the growth of the digital economy and the high paying jobs of the future.  Due in no small part to U.S. leadership, this year the G-20 endorsed policies long advocated by the United States that will help drive innovation and entrepreneurship and make the digital economy an engine for global opportunity. 

1. Free Flow of Data.

The ability of companies and consumers to move data where they see fit is essential to American and global economic prosperity.  The United States has consistently called for policies to enable digital trade, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and empower and protect consumers.  The G-20 embraced this worldview in Hangzhou, expressing its commitment to the free flow of information, ideas, and knowledge across borders—a commitment that underpins the digital economy’s ability to deliver inclusive growth and development. 

2. Multistakeholder Internet Governance.

The Internet is decentralized, cooperative, and layered and needs a similar governance structure to enable the freedom of innovation and freedom of expression that have become its hallmark.  The United States has been a champion of this multistakeholder approach to internet governance, working to fulfill our commitment to reform the internet domain name system so it is privately, efficiently, and fairly managed.  In Hangzhou, the G-20 committed to preserving the global nature of the Internet, and joined the United States in supporting the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance.  

3. Net Neutrality.

One of the most important reasons the Internet has been such an incredible engine for growth and innovation is that most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally.  The United States has led an emerging global consensus around this approach, known as “net neutrality,” with the Federal Communications Commission putting in place strong net neutrality rules in 2015.  The G-20 endorsed the principles underlying this consensus, highlighting the need for its members to examine introducing net neutrality policies to prevent anti-competitive blocking, throttling, or prioritization of data by commercial broadband networks.

4. Broadband Opportunity.

Connectivity is a path to greater opportunity. In today’s world, broadband and fluency with technology fuel economic growth, provide access to the world’s knowledge, promote skills development, and build stronger and more connected communities. The G-20 embraced this vision, calling for policies to promote expanded and better broadband access so all citizens can reap its benefits.  The United States has been working at home and abroad to make this vision a reality and bring more people online.  Domestically, the United States is pursuing such policies under the Administration's ConnectED and ConnectAll initiatives. ConnectED is on track to bring high-speed Internet access to 99 percent of America's schools by 2018, and has in just three years closed the connectivity divide in U.S. schools by half. ConnectALL will ensure that 20 million more Americans have access to broadband by 2020 through a new national broadband subsidy starting this year, while the Department of Commerce’s BroadbandUSA program is assisting communities that want to expand broadband access and adoption. Likewise, the G-20 reaffirmed its goal of ensuring the next 1.5 billion people are connected and have meaningful access to the Internet by 2020.  The United States is doing its part to advance this goal through the Global Connect Initiative, working to bring more people around the world online.

5. Intellectual Property.

The United States has tirelessly advocated for high-quality intellectual property systems, recognizing that protecting intellectual property provides important incentives for inventors and creators, helping to drive innovation and growth in the U.S. and world economy.  In Hangzhou, the G-20 agreed, calling for adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights to promote the development of the digital economy.  The G20 also reaffirmed its 2015 commitment that G-20 members should not conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property. 

6. Strengthening Cybersecurity.

In Hangzhou, the United States continued to show leadership in promoting international cooperation on cybersecurity, as called for in the President’s 2011 International Strategy for Cyberspace.  Promoting cybersecurity in today’s online environment requires a collaborative approach among government and the private sector to encourage innovation and recognize differing needs among actors, not “one-size fits all” technological solutions that risk lock-in and path determinism.  The President’s Executive Order on Promoting Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity endorse a risk-based approach that gives organizations the flexibility to decide how best to secure their systems, using a wide range of standards, innovative products and services available in the marketplace.  The G-20 endorsed this approach in Hangzhou, committing to address security risks, threats, and vulnerabilities in the digital economy, including through application of risk-based cybersecurity standards, guidelines, and best practices.

7.  Transparency and Good Governance.

Open data can serve as fuel for innovation and scientific discovery, and promote more efficient, transparent, and collaborative democracy.  The Administration has implemented policies aimed at helping all Americans reap the benefits of public open data, including the President’s memo on Transparency and Open Government, the Office of Management and Budget’s Open Government Directive, and the President’s Executive Order on Open and Machine Readable Government Information.  The G-20 endorsed similar policies in Hangzhou, calling on members to encourage publication of relevant, publicly available government data, which has the potential to boost new technology, products and services.  Likewise, the G20 members committed to engage in open, transparent, inclusive, evidence-based policy making, to support industry-led standards, and to reduce, eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulations.

The United States is already implementing these measures at home to enable innovation and entrepreneurship.  We are glad to see a global consensus developing around these policies, with the G-20 establishing them as international best practices, helping ensure that the digital economy can serve as one of the most important drivers of global economic growth and development not just for the United States, but for the entire world.