Former Lawmakers Set to Lead Effort to Keep Internet Open, Accessible & Supportive of Free Expression

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Edge Project, a coalition of more than a dozen domestic organizations, today announced former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and former U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) will join the American Edge Project (AEP) to lead the coalition’s efforts on internet openness, accessibility and free expression. In their capacity as advisory board co-chairs, Senator Heitkamp and Congressman Walden, whose collective service in Congress spanned nearly thirty years, will also work in close collaboration with the Project’s directors and their counterparts who comprise the national security and economic advisory boards.

“Along with an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of American voters, I firmly believe that an open, accessible internet is critical to the success of a healthy democracy,” said former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp. “The Biden Administration must work with diligence to ensure that America’s values of an open and accessible internet are guiding the future of internet policy in the U.S. and globally. The American Edge Project is on the frontlines of the fight to promote and facilitate free expression online, and I am proud to join its growing team in this important effort.”

“As a lawmaker who served as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and as someone who spent decades in the radio broadcast business, I am a firm believer in American’s First Amendment rights.  America has an unrivaled commitment to freedom of expression.  It’s up to each of us to protect it and export it around the world,” added former U.S. Congressman Greg Walden. “The maintenance of an open internet that welcomes free expression is as personal to me as it is pivotal to the interests of our country – particularly as ‘techno-autocracies’ with diametrically different values seek to spread their vision of a closed, censored internet.”

While the United States will continue to have vigorous debates about future rules that govern the internet, Americans are leagues ahead of our foreign counterparts who believe in a closed and censored internet. The American Edge Project is working to ensure the United States remains the place where the world’s leading technology companies reside and thrive. Debating how best to preserve, protect, and sustain an open and accessible internet is what American values demand and is what some other governments seek to destroy.

Background: The American Edge Project is a coalition of domestic organizations representing a cross-section of U.S. innovators who are dedicated to telling the story about technology’s positive influence on America’s economy and the vital role innovation plays in our society. Former New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, former U.S. Representative Chris Carney, and former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith are directors of the American Edge Project. Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN (Ret.), who served as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, and former White House Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend serve as Co-Chairs of the Project’s National Security Advisory Board. Former U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Kent Conrad serve as Co-Chairs of the Project’s Economic Advisory Board. Visit for more information.