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

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid