On November 1 and 2, 2011, high-level representatives of 65 nations, high tech multinationals, academics, and Internet activists came together at the QE2 Center for the UK Government-hosted London Conference on Cyberspace to discuss how to preserve all the benefits of cyberspace, while managing the increasing security challenges. This first-of-its-kind meeting featured opening remarks by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and set a new standard for serious discourse on what norms of behavior should prevail in cyberspace. The conference was the brainchild of UK Foreign Minister William Hague, who said the event builds on U.S. efforts in the UN and the example set by the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace. As Secretary Clinton said at the launch of the International Strategy, this is a foreign policy imperative for the United States and the State Department is taking a leading role. Vice President Joseph Biden delivered keynote remarks via videoconference.
Throughout the conference, our message was that the future of the Internet and IT rests on the choices all of us make today -- we must choose whether the Internet remains a space open to business, personal expression, and transparent government; a medium that works smoothly across borders, and fosters liberty and prosperity. We will have to decide how we protect against the dangers that can occur in cyberspace while maintaining the conditions that enable its many benefits.
Many participants shared our view that what we all do online should not be decreed by groups of states making decisions from on high. The current "multi-stakeholder" model, that includes everyone and allows the Internet to grow and flourish, should be preserved. This approach harnesses the best of governments, the private sector and civil society to support the technical evolution of the Internet.
Of course, others have different views. Recent proposals for repressive global codes that would, among other things, subject online content to government-defined standards of political acceptability were raised at the conference as well. The sponsors seek an international treaty that would give governments control over Internet resources, institutions, and content and, in my view, erect national barriers to the free flow of information and technology.
While most conference attendees expressed overwhelming support for the freedoms of expression, assembly and association online, they also raised concerns that the technology that provides so many benefits also enables crime and other wrong-doing -- from theft of sensitive information from governments, businesses, and individuals, to child exploitation, to the potential targeting of critical national infrastructures. The United States and many others participants emphasized that the Budapest Convention plays a critical role in setting the international standard for fighting cybercrime.
In addition, the United States believes that openness and security must be reconciled in a principled way consistent with longstanding shared values including, fundamentally, that existing principles of international law apply to cyberspace and the online environment just as they do offline. We affirm the applicability of International Humanitarian Law as a guide for state actions in the context of hostilities in cyberspace; and emphasize the essential role of practical measures to build confidence and reduce the risk of unintended conflict.
We emphasized the steps the United States has been taking internationally, noting new Internet policy-making principles in the OECD, confidence building measures (CBMs) with Russia, CBMs proposals in the OSCE, and U.S. capacity-building on cybercrime and cybersecurity in East Africa. These steps represent not only a principled approach but a pragmatic one. The OECD principles, in particular, are an important step to guide global policy-making while safeguarding openness online. These principles included a commitment to promote the free flow of information, encourage multi-stakeholder cooperation, strengthen the consistency and effectiveness of privacy protection, and promote innovation.
Clearly, these discussions struck an important chord among participants. Hungary and South Korea have already offered to host the next conferences in 2012 and 2013.
As we close here in London, I encourage you to read the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace, and look forward to hearing your thoughts. These are not questions we can answer alone so we are advancing a new comprehensive cyber diplomacy initiative to ensure that we engage with all stakeholders. The United States will be reaching out to every country represented at the conference and many more, as well as the private sector and civil society, to build consensus around these ideals: security and openness, transparency and accountability, innovation, freedom, and above all, a commitment to working together cooperatively to govern cyberspace in a manner that is consistent with long-standing international principles.