Democrats call for Internet 'freedom,' cybersecurity legislation

The Democratic platform focuses on privacy and freedom of expression, instead of reducing regulations

The U.S. Democratic Party embraced its version of Internet freedom and called for new cybersecurity legislation in its platform released as the party begins its convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Democratic platform, released late Monday, calls for an Internet that is "secure and reliable and that is respectful of U.S. intellectual property, [the] free flow of information, and privacy."

The Democratic platform makes no mention of reducing regulations for broadband providers, a key provision in the Republican platform released last week. The Republican platform criticized Obama for not conducting any wireless spectrum auctions, for not giving carriers incentives for investment and for embracing the U.S. Federal Communication Commission's net neutrality rule, which tries to "micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad network."

Instead, the Democratic platform says the Obama administration has "led the world" in defending Internet freedoms of expression and association. It has helped promote innovative technologies to empower Internet users, the platform says.

Like the Republicans, the Democrats say they support the current multistakeholder approach to Internet governance and oppose new intergovernmental controls over the Internet. Both party platforms apparently took those positions in response to reports that several countries may push for more United Nations control of the Internet at an International Telecommunications Union meeting in December.

In addition, the Democratic platform trumpets the Obama administration's efforts on cybersecurity, saying Obama has backed the first military command dedicated to cybersecurity and conducted a comprehensive review of the federal government's cybersecurity efforts.

"The very technologies that empower us to lead and create also empower individual criminal hackers, organized criminal groups, terrorist networks, and other advanced nations to disrupt the critical infrastructure that is vital to our economy, commerce, public safety, and military," the platform says. "Defending against cyber threats requires networks that are secure, trustworthy, and resilient."

Obama has supported comprehensive cybersecurity legislation "that would help business and government protect against risks of cyber attacks while also safeguarding the privacy rights of our citizens," the platform notes.

Those cybersecurity bills have been controversial. Several privacy and digital rights groups objected to cybersecurity legislation debated in Congress this past year over concerns it would allow businesses to share a wide swath of customer information with government agencies.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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