Ongoing role of the US Department of Commerce on the Internet

The Department of Commerce just released a report, “Enabling Growth and Innovation in the Digital Economy [is] a chronicle of the Commerce Department’s efforts in support of the digital economy over the course of the Obama Administration.” It’s gets into the weeds but it’s a reminder that nothing just happens. Things are planned. Someone thought (still thinks!) about domain name structures. Someone thinks about cloud computing standards. Someone thinks about protecting intellectual property in a world of open source.

It’s the kind of report I can gloss over or lose a week investigating. I think it’s valuable to pull out some aspects – and to know about if/when you ever need to a deep dive into the weeds. I’ve done my best below to annotate it.

It quantifies the impact broadband has had on the US economy…

In the United States, the digital economy has had a staggering impact on jobs and growth.  In 2014 alone, the U.S. exported roughly $400 billion in ICT-enabled deliverable services, which accounted for more than half of U.S. services exports.1  The digital economy has increased total U.S. real GDP by more than a percentage point annually and has added millions of new jobs.2  Virtually all industry sectors, from manufacturing to financial services, education, agriculture and health care, have benefited from the adoption of digital technologies, applications, and services.

Introduces six principles DOC uses for broadband/technology policy development – potentially a best practice list for anyone looking at broadband/technology projects…

Indeed, all of the Department’s efforts are firmly grounded in a core set of principles for policymaking in the digital economy, many of which echo, if not exactly mirror, those of the OECD Principles.  They include:

• Multistakeholder Internet policymaking and standards development, in which all stakeholders may participate in open, transparent, and consensus-driven decision making processes;

• Strong protections for intellectual property, balanced with appropriate exceptions and limitations, such as fair use, which encourage investment and content creation in the digital environment;

• Open and voluntary technical standards, allowing for digital technologies and services to interoperate, and digital entrepreneurs to innovate more easily and to build off existing infrastructure;

• Focus on the user, ensuring that users’ interests are paramount, and that users have the skills, education, and access necessary to reap the benefits of digital technologies;

• Public/private partnerships, which bring the resources and reach of the government to supplement private sector investments and activities;

• International engagement, recognizing that the Internet is truly global, and that for it to continue to serve as a source of economic growth and social development, the United States must actively promote a vision of the digital economy consistent with open and democratic values.

Here’s a glimpse at the Table of Contents – what you think it most important really depends on your needs today. The report reads like a textbook and would serve well as a reference if, as I said, you need to make a deeper dive or find a connection related to a specific topic…

 The Free and Open Internet

  • Ensuring the Global Free Flow of Information Online
  • Advancing the Multistakeholder Approach in Global Internet Governance
  • Privatizing the Management of the Domain Name System

Trust and Security Online

  • Strengthening Consumer Privacy Protections
  • Supporting Security in the Digital Economy

Innovation and Emerging Technologies

  • Protecting Intellectual Property for Creators, Consumers and Innovators
  • Facilitating Open Data and Standards for Interoperability

Access and Skills

  • Supporting Internet Access and Adoption across America


This entry was posted in Government, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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