A White Paper

Prepared for the White House Forum on the Role of
Science and Technology in Promoting
National Security and Global Stability

March 29 - 30, 1995

National Academy of Sciences


The Clinton Administration has made the development of an advanced National Information Infrastructure (NII) and the GII top U.S. priorities. A major goal of the NII is to give our citizens access to a broad range of information and information services. Using innovative telecommunications and information technologies, the NII - through a partnership of business, labor, academia, consumers, and all levels of government -- will help the United States achieve a broad range of economic and social goals.

Similarly, other governments have come to recognize that the telecommunications, information services, and information technology sectors are not only dynamic growth sectors themselves, but are also engines of development and economic growth throughout the economy. With this realization, governments have sharply focused their public policy debates and initiatives on the capabilities of their underlying information infrastructures. The United States is but one of many countries currently pursuing national initiatives to capture the promise of the "Information Revolution." Our initiative shares with others an important, common objective: to ensure that the full potential benefit of advances in information and telecommunications technologies are realized for all citizens.

The GII is an outgrowth of that perspective, a vehicle for expanding the scope of these benefits on a global scale. By interconnecting local, national, regional, and global networks, the GII can increase economic growth, create jobs, improve infrastructures, and contribute to global stability. Taken as a whole, this worldwide "network of networks" will create a global information marketplace, encouraging broad-based social discourse within and among all countries.

The GII will depend upon an ever-expanding range of technology and products, including telephones, fax machines, computers, switches, compact discs, video and audio tape, coaxial cable, wire, satellites, optical fiber transmission lines, microwave networks, televisions, scanners, cameras, and printers -- as well as advances in computing, information, and networking technologies not yet envisioned.

But the GII extends beyond hardware and software; it is also a system of applications, activities, and relationships. There is the information itself, whatever its purpose or form, e.g., video programming, scientific or business databases, images, sound recordings, library archives, or other media. There are also standards, interfaces, and transmission codes that facilitate interoperability between networks and ensure the privacy and security of the information carried over them, as well as the security and reliability of the networks themselves. Most importantly, the GII includes the people involved in the creation and use of information, development of applications and services, construction of the facilities, and training necessary to realize the potential of the GII. These individuals are primarily in the private sector, and include vendors, operators, service providers, and users.

The development of a Global Information Infrastructure offers many new opportunities and poses many new challenges. Properly used, new computer and telecommunications technologies can foster democracy, open new markets, create high-paying jobs, promote peace and international understanding, promote freedom of expression and freedom of information, and foster sustainable development. We must insure that the Global Information Infrastructure is not used by governments to monitor their citizens, commit acts of terrorism, or fight an "information war" in cyberspace.

Computer and telecommunications technologies are advancing so quickly and are being used in so many new and unexpected ways that it is hard for policy-making to keep pace. This has been particularly true in the area of national security and international relations where many of the consequences of the development of the GII can often only be guessed at. The task is made even harder because relatively little serious study has been done on these questions.

The forum will provide an excellent opportunity to explore how the evolving Global Information Infrastructure will impact different aspects of national security and international relations. While it will not be possible to address all of the thorny policy issues raised by advanced information technology, it should be possible to frame the issues and determine which ones most need additional attention.

This paper provides background on the Administration's Global Information Infrastructure, which is designed to spur development of a global "network of networks" that will one day reach every town and village. The initiative is a comprehensive effort to address the wide range of telecommunications policy, technology policy, and information policy issues related to the GII. This paper is adopted from the a recently-released report, The Global Information Infrastructure--Agenda for Cooperation, prepared by the inter-agency Information Infrastructure Task Force (chaired by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown), which is responsible for coordinating the Administration's National Information Infrastructure and Global Information Infrastructure initiatives.



A. Encouraging Private Investment

From the wide range of available options, governments can develop a strategy best suited to their particular needs. At the same time, they must institute the appropriate regulatory, legislative, and market reforms to create the conditions necessary to attract private investment in their telecommunications, information technology, and information services markets. To facilitate this process, the United States will join with other governments to:

B. Promoting Competition

The most effective means of promoting a GII that delivers advanced products and services to all countries is through increased competition at local, national, regional, and global levels. To that end, the United States will join with other governments to:

In selecting among these options, the goal must be to enhance competition and not diminish it.

C. Providing Open Access

In partnership with the private sector, governments can take action to improve access to facilities and networks, and promote the availability of a wide range of diverse services and information, including supporting the development of international standards that promote interoperability. To achieve these goals, the United States will join with other governments to:

D. Creating a Flexible Regulatory Environment

Although national regulatory environments necessarily reflect the specific social, economic, and political needs of each individual country, the essentially global nature of the markets for telecommunications, information technologies, and information services require that national regulations be responsive to global developments. The United States will join with other governments to:

E. Ensuring Universal Service

Although the provision of universal service varies from country to country, the goal of providing all people with greater access to both basic and advanced services is a crucial element of the GII. The United States will join with other governments to:


Information Policy & Content Issues

1. Privacy Protection

In order to foster consumer confidence in the GII and to encourage the growth of interconnected global networks, users must feel that they are afforded adequate privacy protection. To this end, the United States will join with other governments to: