January 21, 2010

Clinton Urges Global Internet Freedom

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WASHINGTON — Calling the Internet "the new iconic infrastructure of our age," as opposed to the divisive symbolism of the Berlin Wall, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Thursday for uncensored global access to Internet information.

In a speech on Internet freedom held Jan. 21 in the Newseum's Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater, Clinton also linked the five freedoms of the First Amendment to the need for unfettered Internet access.

"The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly, only in cyberspace," she said.

Clinton pointed to Google's recent claims of cyber intrusion of its content by the Chinese government as an example for the need for global enforcement.

"Countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century," she said.

She called on the Chinese government to conduct a thorough and open investigation into Google's allegations and make the results transparent.

Clinton said the spread of information networks is forming a "new nervous system" for our planet, turning the networks into "a great leveler" for economic disparities around the world.

She cited the communication networks in Haiti — where a seven-year-old girl and two women sent a text message for help underneath the rubble — as having played a critical role in efforts to rescue earthquake victims.

"No group or individual should stay buried in the rubble of oppression," she said.

Clinton emphasized that the U.S. government is committed to helping promote Internet freedom and is working to put cyber security on the world agenda. She said the State Department would work with leaders in industry, academia and non-government organizations to develop technologies for global health and human rights.

"Let us make [technology] a force for real progress the world over," she said.

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