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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid