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On Internet Freedom

On Internet Freedom
On Internet Freedom

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"The internet is a network that magnifies the power and potential of all others," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a speech on January 21st:

"And that’s why we believe it’s critical that its users are assured certain basic freedoms. Freedom of expression is first among them. This freedom is no longer defined solely by whether citizens can go into the town square and criticize their government without fear of retribution. Blogs, emails, social networks, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas, and created new targets for censorship."

New technologies can be used to promote social and economic development, providing people with access to knowledge and potential markets, capital and opportunity, said Secretary Clinton. They can help bridge divides between people of different faiths, and connect like-minded individuals to espouse causes or join social movements that can influence the world around them.

But the same technologies that can open a whole new world of information, are also being exploited to undermine human progress and political rights, said Secretary Clinton. Some governments use the internet to stifle independent thought, or to silence people of faith. Individuals and groups alike sometimes use the internet to recruit terrorists, or distribute stolen intellectual property, and commit other cyber crimes.

"These technologies must not be used to punish peaceful political speech, they must also not be used to persecute or silence religious minorities. ... We have taken steps as a government, and as a Department, to find diplomatic solutions to strengthen global cyber security. ... We’ve worked to address this challenge at the UN and in other multilateral forums and to put cyber security on the world’s agenda."

"We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas," said Secretary Clinton. "We recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it."

"So let us recommit ourselves to this cause," said Secretary of State Clinton. "Let us make these technologies a force for real progress the world over. And let us go forward together to champion these freedoms for our time, for our young people who deserve every opportunity we can give them."