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The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Preserving a Free and Open Internet



The Internet has been an engine of economic opportunity worldwide, but we cannot take its success for granted. As the free exchange of information and services across borders is increasingly threatened, trade commitments among countries can serve as a powerful tool to maintain the openness that has been the hallmark of the Internet’s success. And while much has been said recently about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one piece is often overlooked: TPP has first-ever commitments that will promote a free and open digital economy and serve as a template for 21st century trade agreements going forward.

Twenty years ago, less than 1 percent of the world’s population was connected to the Internet. Today, more than 40 percent have Internet access. That extraordinary growth has continued in recent years — since 2009, global Internet users have more than doubled, from 1.5 billion to 3.2 billion. Data flows have nearly quintupled. These trends show no signs of slowing down.

The Internet’s growth — and its power to reshape how we connect, share ideas and exchange information with the rest of the world — is largely due to its design. It has been borderless, lowering the costs of transmitting information, supporting freedom of expression, exchange of information and giving our entrepreneurs an open canvas on which to innovate and a level playing field on which to compete.

Not everyone shares this vision for the future digital economy.

Not everyone shares this vision for the future digital economy. Countries are taking steps to fragment the Internet along national borders, legitimize content controls and arbitrary website blockage, force the use of local servers and deploy “cyber-nationalist” policies that could balkanize the Internet and distort innovation.

That’s where the Trans-Pacific Partnership can help, by requiring countries to sign on to principles necessary for a free and open Internet. TPP contains a comprehensive set of commitments to promote a free and open Internet, including provisions to:

Promote the free flow of data. TPP preserves users’ rights to access and move data, subject to safeguards, which helps ensure the flow of information and data that drive the Internet and the digital economy.
Combat forced localization of server capacity. TPP ensures that entrepreneurs will not have to build expensive and redundant data centers in every market they seek to serve. The economies of scale of the digital economy, where capital- and energy-intensive data centers serve multiple countries, depend on this flexibility.
Prevent forced tech transfer. TPP ensures that countries can’t force an innovator to hand over its technology or IP as a condition for gaining access to their market.
Enhance transparency and public participation. TPP promotes public participation and transparency in the development of laws and regulations — including those affecting the Internet — by providing opportunities for the public to view and comment on laws and regulations.
Strengthen consumer protection. TPP requires countries to adopt and maintain consumer protection laws related to fraudulent and deceptive commercial activities online, and similar measures to protect privacy; it also requires countries to maintain and enforce anti-spam and anti-fraud rules.
Open markets for digital goods and services. TPP opens markets for services and digital products; ensures tariffs are never imposed on digital transmissions; and prevents discrimination against online provision of products traded and transmitted electronically, through measures such as outright blocking or other forms of content discrimination.
Establish duty-free treatment for IT goods. TPP abolishes all tariffs in TPP countries on IT products, such as computers, tablets and smartphones, telecommunications equipment, fiber-optic cable, semiconductors and related goods.
Promote competitive telecom markets. TPP includes requirements to promote competition and ensure access to national telecom networks, helping to improve prices, quality and choices for users.
Facilitate digital trade and e-commerce. TPP includes requirements that TPP countries enable secure online payment options, allow express delivery services and take other measures — often particularly important for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs — to secure the necessary tools for trade in the digital environment.
Achieve a balanced approach to IP. Recognizing the role a strong and balanced approach to intellectual property plays in the growth of the digital economy, TPP countries have obligated themselves to continuously seek to achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems through, among other things, copyright exceptions and limitations for legitimate purposes, including those for the digital environment.
With these important steps in TPP, we will strengthen the coalition of countries defending the integrity of the Internet and the economic opportunities of its users. These first-ever provisions for the digital economy are extremely powerful for those seeking a world where everyone has the ability to participate in the global economy and safely access knowledge online.

These first-ever provisions for the digital economy are extremely powerful for those seeking a world where everyone has the ability to participate in the global economy and safely access knowledge online.

The Administration is committed to the principles that have allowed the Internet to reshape our world: Preserving the open and “borderless” character of the global Internet; guaranteeing users’ freedom to move, store and manage data; enhancing the growth of the digital economy; and promoting public-interest policies that protect privacy and deter cyber-crime, including theft of intellectual property, and abuse.

Covering 20 percent of the world’s Internet users and over a third of estimated Internet data flow, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an unprecedented opportunity to move beyond advocacy. It would take concrete steps toward preserving a free and open Internet at a time when the Internet’s underlying principles are in question — but when its future has never been brighter.

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Alan Davidson of the U.S Department of Commerce puts forward a strong defense of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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Metaverse Can Serve as a Supplement, Not Replacement, For Educators: Experts

The virtual world where avatars can meet as if they were in real life can be a companion for education.



Screenshot of the Brookings event Tuesday

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2022 – Experts said at a Brookings Institution event said Tuesday that while the “metaverse” can go a long way toward improving education for some students, it should serve as a supplement to those educational goals.

The metaverse refers to a platform of 3D virtual worlds where avatars, or virtual characters, meet as if they were in the real world. The concept has been toyed with by Facebook parent Meta and is being used as a test for the educational space.

“The metaverse is a world that is accessible to students and teachers across the globe that allows shared interactions without boundaries in a respectful optimistic way,” Simran Mulchandani, founder of education app Project Rangeet, said at Tuesday’s event.

Panelists stated that as the metaverse and education meet, researchers, educators, policymakers and digital designers should take the lead, so tech platforms do not dictate educational opportunities.

“We have to build classrooms first, not tech first,” said Mulchandani.

Rebecca Kantar, the head of education at Roblox – a video game platform that allows players to program games – added that as the metaverse is still emerging and being constructed, “we can be humble in our attempt to find the highest and best way to bring the metaverse” into the classroom for the best education for the future.

Anant Agarwal, a professor at MIT and chief open education officer for online learning platform edX, stated the technology of the metaverse has the potential to make “quality and deep education accessible to everybody everywhere.”

Not a replacement for real social experiences

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, senior fellow of the global economy and development at the Center for Universal Education, said that while the metaverse brings potential to improve learning, it is not a complete replacement for the social experience a student has in the classroom.

“The metaverse can’t substitute for social interaction. It can supplement.”

Mulchandani noted the technology of the metaverse cannot replace the teacher, but rather can serve to solve challenges in the classroom.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel Emphasizes 100 Percent Broadband Adoption

‘It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,’ said the chairwoman.



Photo of Kelley Dunne, CEO of AmeriCrew, leading panel on workforce issues at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit by Drew Clark

PARK CITY, Utah, June 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is making progress towards bringing “affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to 100 percent of the country,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here on Tuesday.

Rosenworcel pointed to the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now being deployed across the country, with a particular focus on unconnected rural and tribal areas.

Although the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will take the lead with these funds, the FCC’s new broadband coverage maps will be important in implementing state digital equity plans.

In her remarks, Rosenworcel also discussed how the upcoming 2.5 GigaHertz spectrum auction will involve licensing spectrum primarily to rural areas.

At the July FCC open meeting, said Rosenworcel, the agency is scheduled to establish a new program to help enhance wireless competition. It is called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program.

The program aims to build incentives for existing carriers to build opportunities for smaller carriers and tribal nations through leasing or partitioning spectrum. Existing carriers will be rewarded with longer license terms, extensions on build-out obligations, and more flexibility in construction requirements.

“It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,” she said.

She also indicated her commitment to work with Congress to fund the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to reimburse many rural operators’ transitions from Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment. She also touted the role that open radio access networks can plan in more secure telecommunications infrastructure.

In other news at the conference, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr addressed the role of funding broadband operations in rural America, the challenges of workforce training, and ensuring that rural carriers have access to high-cost universal service support.

In a session moderated by AmeriCrew CEO Kelley Dunne, panelists from the U.S. Labor Department, the Wireless Infrastructure Association and Texas A&M Extension Education Services addressed the need to offer a vocational career path for individuals for whom a four-year degree may not be the right choice. AmeriCrew helps U.S. military veterans obtain careers in building fiber, wireless and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.

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Broadband's Impact

Broadband Speeds Have Significant Impact on Economy, Research Director Says

From 2010 to 2020, a 10.9 percent growth in broadband penetration drove .04 percent increase in GDP, the study found.



Photo of Alan Davidson of the NTIA, Caroline Kitchens of Shopify, Raul Katz of Columbia University (left to right)

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2022 – Broadband and higher speeds have made significant contributions to economic growth over the last decade, according to a study discussed at a Network On conference Tuesday.

Raul Katz, director of business strategy research at Columbia University, conducted his research to determine where the United States economy would be if broadband had not evolved since 2010. He developed four models to explain the economic contribution of broadband, and all found support to suggest that broadband development has contributed to substantial economic growth.

The long-run economic growth model showed that between 2010 and 2020, a 10.9 percent growth in broadband penetration drove a .04 percent increase in gross domestic product – the measure of the value of goods and services produced in the nation. States with higher speed broadband had an economic impact of an additional 11.5 percent.

“States with higher speeds of broadband have a higher economic effect,” said Katz. “Not only is there penetration as a driver, but there’s also… return to speed. At faster speeds, the economy tends to be more efficient.”

The study found that if broadband adoption and speed had remained unchanged since 2010, the 2020 GDP would have been 6.27 percent lower, said Katz.

Caroline Kitchens, a representative for ecommerce platform Shopify, said Tuesday that there’s been great growth in the ecommerce business, which relies entirely on a broadband connection. “Worldwide, Shopify merchants create 3.5 million jobs and have an economic impact of more than $307 billion. It goes without saying that none of this is possible without broadband access.”

“We have really seen firsthand how broadband access promotes entrepreneurship,” said Kitchens, indicating that this has promoted a growing economy in over 100 countries.

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