Aspen Institute Releases New IDEA Project Report on Governing the Flow and Use of Data in a Single Global Digital Economy

April 24, 2012

Contact: Sarah Eppehimer
Senior Project Manager
Communications and Society Program

Washington, DC, April 24, 2012 –Today the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program released a new report of the International Digital Economy Accords (IDEA) Project titled, Toward a Single Global Digital Economy: The First Report of the Aspen Institute IDEA Project. The report addresses the challenges and critical steps forward for establishing a fair, effective, and empowering multi-stakeholder system for governing the flow and use of data in a single global digital economy.

The report is the result of the two-year long Aspen IDEA Project, an internationally inclusive project designed to explore the free flow of communications across borders on a unified Internet. The Project engaged 36 American and European corporations, high-level government officials from 6 countries representing 18 different agencies, and 14 representatives of civil society from the United States, Europe, India, and Brazil.

“We hope to make a contribution to the critical emerging global debate over how to govern the single most important common medium in the history of humanity—the global Internet,” said Aspen IDEA Chairman Reed Hundt. “We believe the report offers an idea that we admit is in sharp contrast to the notions of additional government control of the Internet that are beginning to circulate in the circles of thought concerned with our common digital economy.”

Among the key components of the report:

  • The Aspen IDEA Common Statement: a clear statement of an ideal Internet culture with respect to the seamless global transfer of information and exchange of digital goods and services.
  • The Aspen IDEA Principles: a series of guidelines that strengthen the Internet infrastructure and promote free trade in the Internet ecosystem; enhance the international free flow of information; and promote a trusted environment for the Internet. The principles supplement the work developed at other forums, including the June 2011 government-sponsored work at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • The importance of multistakeholder Internet governance. The most plausible Internet governance plan is not purely intergovernmental, but rather includes both government and nongovernmental agents. Internet governance by multistakeholder entities acknowledges the principle of inclusion, the importance of having the participation of all interests—companies, civil society, and governments—in the policy-making process.

The report advances the idea that various multistakeholder entities should govern various aspects of the global Internet but that all should be connected to each other in two major ways: 

  • All multistakeholder entities would adopt a common statement and set of principles that they would apply to all recommendations and actions; and
  • All such entities would include companies, governments, and non-profits in deliberations and recommendations.

The Aspen Institute IDEA Project is led by Reed Hundt, former chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission. Dr. Peter Cowhey, dean of the University of California, San Diego School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, spearheads the Project’s policy efforts, and Charles Firestone, executive director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, is overseeing the project on behalf of the Aspen Institute. In its first phase, under the managing directorship of Gary Epstein, the project had financial support from a consortium of charitable foundations, including the Markle Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“We are gratified by the wide participation among corporations, civil society and government officials in the first stage of the Aspen IDEA Project,” said Charles Firestone, executive director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program. “In the next stage of the Project, we are looking forward to even more international involvement, especially from the developing world.”

Toward a Single, Global Digital Economy will be featured today in a lunchtime discussion. Reed Hundt will present the Report followed by remarks from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Chief Technology Officer Daniel Weitzner. Following the presentation of the report, Charles Firestone will moderate a discussion on multistakeholder Internet governance with the invited audience. A live webcast of the event is available at Join the discussion on Twitter at hashtag #ideareport or by following @aspencs.

The public can access and publicly comment on the report at the Aspen Institute IDEA Project website,

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program serves as a non-partisan venue for global leaders and experts to exchange insights on the societal impact of advances in digital technology and network communications. It also creates a multidisciplinary space in the communications policy-making world where veteran and emerging decision-makers can explore new concepts and develop new policy networks.


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