Accepted paper:

U.S. foreign policy and the internet: chronicling the shift from circumvention to connectivity


Deniz Duru Aydin (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates the evolution of Internet-related U.S. foreign policy and development agenda from Internet freedom to today's Global Connect Initiative. The reasons for this policy shift are analyzed within the broader global context such as Snowden revelations and the recently adopted SDGs.

Paper long abstract:

Hillary Clinton's emblematic Internet freedom speech is regarded as the start of United States (U.S.) foreign policy focus on protecting and promoting Internet freedoms worldwide. This paper investigates the lesser-known foundations of such U.S. Internet freedom efforts, starting from pre-Clinton years and tracking its development until today, when the U.S. Internet freedom agenda that was based on promoting freedom of expression online mainly by funding circumvention technologies seems to be replaced by a focus on increasing global connectivity. The paper argues the reasons for this shift to be the changing international relations dynamics following Snowden revelations, the technologically deterministic international development goals tied to the newly adopted SDGs, impact of U.S. tech company lobbying, and the appearance of similar initiatives in the domestic policymaking sphere.

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panel P01
Power, politics and digital development [Information, Technology and Development Study Group]