To counter authoritarian information manipulation and control, the United States needs to support free expression and harness innovation through organizations like the Open Tech Fund, Emerging Technologies Fellow Lindsay Gorman and Karen Kornbluh, director of GMF’s Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative, argue in NBC Think.
China expanded its attacks on internet freedom and democratic speech when it imposed a national security law on Hong Kong last month. Law enforcement agencies on the island are now empowered to compel websites and social media platforms to hand over user data, take down content and restrict user access on the thinnest of premises. It even raised the possibility that U.S. tech companies could be penalized for failing to crack down on activity that happens on their platforms outside Hong Kong itself.
The online information environment is a critical domain of competition between the United States and China and between democracies and authoritarian states more broadly. At issue are free expression and the ability of people and companies to use the internet without risk of their information’s being shared with governments. Yet at the same time that China becomes more assertive on the issue, the U.S. may shoot itself in the foot in responding to this challenge.