The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), a coalition of governments working together to support internet freedom and promote respect for human rights, including the freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, as well as privacy rights, both online and offline, has announced that the United States has assumed the Chairship of the Coalition for 2023.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, Chair of the FOC in 2022 handed over the Chairship of the FOC to U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who highlighted the U.S.’ focus “on making the Coalition even more effective in advancing the promise of the Internet, and mitigating its perils.”
During its chairship of the Coalition, the U.S., in partnership with FOC members, will deepen the Coalition’s diplomatic efforts to reinforce the opportunities of digital technologies globally and address the challenges posed by the growing misuse of digital technologies and threats to human rights online.
The United States will also, during the period, seek to prioritize protecting fundamental freedoms online; countering digital authoritarianism and the misuse of digital technologies; advancing norms, principles, and safeguards regarding artificial intelligence; and strengthening digital inclusion.
According to the 2023 FOC Programme of Action, its focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) will ensure the technology’s usage is compliant with human rights. The FOC noted that part of its goals include collaborating with other similar mission-driven cohorts, namely the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence.
Other goal areas include the protection of online freedoms and strengthening digital inclusion.
The U.S. was a founding member of the FOC, along with the Netherlands—which held the first meeting—and other member countries, including Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The coalition has since added 24 additional member nations.
The Coalition continues to rely on the expertise of the Advisory Network, an independent multi-stakeholder mechanism, which is instrumental in facilitating collaboration with civil society, academia, and private sector representatives and provides advice on the aims and activities of the FOC. The chairship of the Coalition rotates among member states on an annual basis, and was previously held by Canada, Finland, Ghana, Germany, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Estonia, Tunisia, Kenya and the Netherlands