News / USA

Clinton Warns Efforts to Curb Internet Will Backfire

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers her speech on 'Internet Rights And Wrongs: Choices & Challenges In A Networked World' at George Washington University in Washington, February. 15, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers her speech on 'Internet Rights And Wrongs: Choices & Challenges In A Networked World' at George Washington University in Washington, February. 15, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is warning countries that would curb the Internet that they cannot hold back popular discontent forever, and will risk losing the benefits of a inter-connected world economy.  In a major address on Internet policy in Washington, she said the United States strongly supports "the freedom to connect."  

Clinton acknowledged that despite its benefits, the Internet can be a conduit for hate speech, or in the case of Wikileaks, an outlet for publishing stolen classified U.S. documents.

But the Secretary made clear the United States places itself "on the side of openness," and said while Internet freedom - like all freedoms - raises tensions, the benefits are worth it.

Clinton’s policy address, at George Washington University a few blocks from the State Department, came amid a groundswell of protests in the Middle East, propelled in part by activists using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Affected countries have tried varying ways to stifle dissent by shutting down websites or halting Internet service altogether, but Clinton said countries that clamp down on bloggers, opposition websites, and news outlets do so at their own risk.


"Governments who have erected barriers to Internet freedom - whether they are technical filters or censorship regimes, or attacks on those who exercise their rights to expression and assembly online - will eventually find themselves boxed in.  They will face a dictator’s dilemma, and have to choose between letting the walls fall, or paying the price to keep them standing.  Which means both doubling down on a losing  hand by resorting to greater oppression, and enduring the escalating opportunity cost of missing out on the ideas that have been blocked and people who have been ‘disappeared," she said.

Clinton said freedom of thought and the "level playing field" brought by the rule of law are what fuels innovation, and when countries curtail Internet freedom, they place limits on their economic future.

The Secretary has spent much of her time since late November in overseas diplomacy aimed at repairing damage to U.S. relationships caused by the Internet release of thousands of State Department documents by the activist website Wikileaks.

In her address, she said a balance must be struck between the need for confidentiality in diplomacy and transparency, to which the Obama administration is committed.

"The scale should, and will, always be tipped in favor of openness.  But tipping the scale over completely serves no one’s interests.  Let me be clear. I said that the Wikileaks incident began with a theft, just as if it had been executed by smuggling papers in a briefcase.  The fact that Wikileaks used the Internet is not the reason we criticized its action.  Wikileaks does not challenge our commitment to Internet freedom," she said.

Clinton said the Obama administration will spend $25 million this year supporting technical experts and activists looking into various ways to get around  government curbs on the Internet.

Critics say the administration has dawdled by failing to invest in proven 'circumvention' technology that would allow Internet users to evade government controls by routing traffic to servers in other countries. But Clinton said there is no one quick fix for fighting Internet restrictions.

"We support multiple tools, so if repressive governments figure out how to target one, others are available.  And we invest in the cutting edge because we know that repressive governments are constantly innovating their methods of oppression, and we intend to stay ahead of them," she said.

The secretary also said the State Department is committed to expanding direct Internet conversation with people around the world.  She said department Twitter feeds, which began last week in Arabic and Farsi, will soon also include Chinese, Russian and Hindi.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid