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Protecting Internet Freedom

The internet has become the public space of the twenty-first century.

The United States supports the freedom for people everywhere to connect over the internet and calls on other nations to do the same.

"The internet," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "has become the public space of the twenty-first century." That's why the United States supports the freedom for people everywhere to connect over the internet and calls on other nations to do the same.

Unfortunately, many countries continue to restrain the internet. In China, the government censors content and redirects search requests for specific topics to error pages.

In Burma, independent news sites have been taken down with distributed denial of service attacks.

In Cuba, the government is trying to create a national intranet, while not allowing their citizens to access the global internet.

In Vietnam, bloggers who criticize the government are arrested and sometimes mistreated.

In Iran, the authorities block opposition and media websites, target social media, and steal identifying information about their own people in order to hunt them down.

For the United States said Secretary Clinton, the choice is clear: "On the spectrum of internet freedom, we place ourselves on the side of openness." That openness comes with challenges. It calls for ground rules to protect against wrongdoing and harm.

One of the challenges facing internet use is achieving both liberty and security. The U.S. is aggressively tracking and deterring criminals and terrorists online and investing in cyber security. But in all its efforts, the U.S. retains a commitment to universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Security is often invoked as a justification for harsh crackdowns on freedom. Many governments arrest bloggers, pry into the peaceful activities of their citizens, and limit their access to the internet in the name of security.

The internet also needs to protect confidentiality. There must be secure communication online in order to conduct business, to work as journalists, and governments rely on confidential communication online as well as offline.

A third challenge for internet use is protecting free expression while fostering tolerance and civility. The U.S. believes that efforts to curb the content of speech rarely succeed and often become an excuse to violate freedom of expression.

"Liberty and security, transparency and confidentiality, freedom of expression and tolerance," said Secretary Clinton, "make up the foundation of a free, open, and secure society as well as a free, open, and secure internet where universal human rights are respected, and which provides a space for greater progress and prosperity over the long run."