Heidi Heitkamp and Greg Walden
As President Joe Biden and his G7 counterparts prepare to gather for the upcoming leaders’ summit, we encourage the Biden administration here in the United States to focus on an issue of paramount importance to the American people: the preservation and proliferation of freedom of expression online.
Along with Americans across the political and ideological spectrum, we support keeping the internet open and accessible to all. Per a recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of the American Edge Project, there is widespread consensus among independents (81 percent), Republicans (79 percent) and Democrats (60 percent) regarding the critical need to keep the internet open. With near-universal agreement, Americans also recognize that an open and accessible internet is important to freedom of expression (96 percent), government accountability (94 percent), and America’s role in the world (93 percent).
Nearly three-fourths of voters, meanwhile, want Biden and his administration to prioritize this issue – a percentage on par with health care reform. Such parity with an issue as salient as health care only emphasizes the extent to which Americans value an internet that reflects, rather than restricts, American principles, particularly as it relates to free speech.
Our system stands in stark contrast to those of other countries around the world that aim to suppress dissent and stifle privacy rights. Our citizens, government and domestic companies are leagues ahead of “techno-autocracies” like China and Russia, where tools of the modern internet are exploited for egregious purposes.