As to a practical “freedom to connect” policy agenda, “we believe there is no silver bullet in the struggle against Internet repression,” Clinton averred. The Obama administration will therefore experiment, adopting a “venture capital–style approach, supporting a portfolio of technologies, tools, and training” in projects designed to sustain an “Internet that is open, secure, and reliable.”

One danger such a pathway presents is that it may lead to incremental, government-led rulemaking, as if what is required to secure freedom of speech and assembly on the global Internet is some international version of the Federal Communications Commission. That would be deeply questionable, judging by the FCC’s embarrassing history in the United States, and the history of similar regulatory bodies worldwide. It is a story marked mainly by collusion with monopolizing industry and government, as well as the suppression of innovation and speech. Before the United States devotes itself to the civilizing mission of Internet freedom abroad, then, it might be wise to think more deeply about what it will take to protect the “freedom to connect” at home.