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Clinton Administration[]

The Global Information Infrastructure (GII)

includes wired and wireless networks; information appliances such as computers, set-top boxes, videophones, and personal digital assistants (PDA); all of the information, applications and services accessible over these networks; and the skills required to build, design and use these information and communications technologies.[1]

U.S. Department of Defense[]

The Global Information Infrastructure (GII) as:

the worldwide interconnection of communications networks, computers, databases, and consumer electronics that make vast amounts of information available to users. It encompasses a wide range of equipment, including cameras, scanners, keyboards, facsimile machines, computers, switches, compact discs, video and audiotape, cable, wire, satellites and satellite ground stations, fiber-optic transmission lines, networks of all types, televisions, monitors, printers, and much more. The GII includes more than just the physical facilities used to store, process, and display information. The personnel who make decisions and handle the transmitted information constitute a critical component of the GII.[2]

Historical background[]

On March 21, 1994, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Vice President Al Gore gave an address to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in which he expanded the concept of the NII from the Nation to the world, calling it the Global Information Infrastructure (GII), a global network of networks.

In the speech, the Vice President called creation of a GII "an essential prerequisite to sustainable development, for all members of the human family" and asserted that it would "spread participatory democracy," becoming "a metaphor for democracy itself." Furthermore, he argued that GII would be "the key to economic growth for national and international economies." He proposed that the GII be built using the same five principles he outlined for the NII.

The speech focused attention on the role of satellites, which are especially useful for global communications. While undersea cables (copper and fiber optic) connect the United States with Europe and parts of Asia, it is expensive to lay cables to link continents, so satellites are used instead (satellites also provide additional capacity for areas that are linked by cable). Satellites are uniquely valuable in areas such as developing countries that lack terrestrial infrastructure. The need for developing countries to tie into the GII was emphasized by Vice President Gore, who commented that it is not lack of economic development that causes poor telecommunications, but primitive telecommunications that cause poor economic development.


  1. See White House, A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce 1 n.1 (July 1, 1997).
  2. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Joint Doctrine for Information Operations" (Joint Pub. 3-13), at I-13 and I-14 (Oct. 9, 1998) (full-text).


See also[]