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Enemies Of The Internet

In its latest annual report, Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based monitoring group, lists countries that suppress free access to the Internet. Lucie Morillon is the organization's Washington, D-C, director:

"We are used to going onto the Internet and finding whatever information we want, but some people in China, when they want to learn more about Tiananmen, about democracy, or human rights, they can not have the same information that we do because the government filters this information."

Reporters Without Borders says, "China unquestionably continues to be the world's most advanced country in Internet filtering." It says Chinese authorities "carefully monitor technological progress to ensure that no new window of free expression opens up." Internet companies operating in China, such as U.S.-based Yahoo, says the report, "are pressured by the authorities to control content." The Chinese government imprisons citizens for expressing their opinions. In October, Li Jianping, a Chinese cyber dissident, was sentenced to a three-year term after being charged with posting articles on the Internet about human rights.

Along with China, twelve other countries are cited by Reporters Without Borders as being what the organization calls "enemies" of the Internet. They are Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Ambassador David A. Gross is the U.S. State Department's Coordinator for International Communication and Information Policy. Speaking at the recent International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, Ambassador Gross said, "Over six decades ago, it was written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that, 'Everyone has the right to information, to freedom of opinion and expression. And this includes the right to freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.'"

Ambassador Gross says, "It is our responsibility to see that these words -- and this promise -- are brought into reality."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.