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The more freely information flows, the stronger a society becomes, said President Barack Obama, because citizens can hold their governments accountable. The free flow of information and ideas, which forms the foundation of eCommerce around the world, also drives economic growth and prosperity. The rights of free expression and freedom of information on the Internet are a source of strength that should be encouraged.
Unfortunately, these rights are under threat. Too many governments block content and harass or persecute those who use the Internet to communicate. In the past year, there have been crackdowns on bloggers in Iran, increased censorship in China and raids on Internet cafes in Burma. Also, lack of competition and clear and transparent regulatory environments hinder telecom network growth.
Reporters Without Borders reports that 70 cyber-dissidents are currently detained around the world because of what they have posted online. In addition to jailing individuals for what they post online, new forms of censorship are unfolding around the world. Some governments are flooding websites with pro-government comments and launching attacks on opposition websites, while others continue to create sophisticated firewalls that filter data or block websites.
No country should repress the free flow of information. The freedom to speak and write freely and critically is a fundamental right. Not only in the United States, but around the world, the free flow of information has promoted good governance by holding leaders accountable and encouraging open debate.