America to cyber-dissidents: ‘We’re with you’

The United States stands with cyber dissidents and democracy activists from the Middle East to China and beyond, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.

She pledged to expand the Obama administration‘s efforts to foil Internet repression in autocratic states.

In an impassioned speech on Internet freedom, Clinton said the administration would spend $25 million this year on initiatives designed to protect bloggers and help them get around curbs like the Great Firewall of China, the gagging of social media sites in Iran, Cuba, Syria, Vietnam and Myanmar as well as Egypt’s recent unsuccessful attempt to thwart anti-government protests by simply pulling the plug on online communication.

She also said the State Department, which last week launched Twitter feeds in Arabic and Farsi to connect with populations throughout the Arab world and Iran, would broaden the reach of its online mini-appeals for human rights and democracy by creating accounts cater to audiences in China, Russia and India in their native languages.

Clinton challenged authoritarian leaders and regimes to embrace online freedom and the demands of cyber dissidents or risk being toppled by tides of unrest, similar to what has happened in Egypt and Tunisia to longtime presidents Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

“History has shown us that repression often sows the seeds for revolution down the road,” she said. “Those who clamp down on Internet freedom may be able to hold back the full impact of their people’s yearnings for a while, but not forever.”

“Leaders worldwide have a choice to make,” Clinton said. “They can let the Internet in their countries flourish, and take the risk that the freedoms it enables will lead to a greater demand for political rights. Or they can constrict the Internet, choke the freedoms it naturally sustains, and risk losing all the economic and social benefits that come from a networked society.”

“We believe that governments who have erected barriers to Internet freedom – whether they’re technical filters or censorship regimes or attacks on those who exercise their rights to expression and assembly online — will eventually find themselves boxed in,” she said. “They will face a dictator’s dilemma, and will have to choose between letting the walls fall or paying the price to keep them standing — which means both doubling down on a losing hand by resorting to greater oppression, and enduring the escalating opportunity cost of missing out on the ideas that have been blocked.”

She said fighting restrictions would not be easy but stressed that the U.S. is committed to ensuring the Internet remains an open forum for discourse.

“While the rights we seek to protect are clear, the various ways that these rights are violated are increasingly complex,” Clinton said.

The U.S. will “help people in oppressive Internet environments get around filters, stay one step ahead of the censors, the hackers and the thugs who beat them up or imprison them for what they say online,” she said in the speech to students at The George Washington University. She countered criticism leveled at the administration for not investing in a single technological fix to overcome government controls, saying there was “no silver bullet” and “no app” to do that. Instead, she said, the U.S. would take a multi-pronged approach.

Clinton’s remarks, her second major address on the topic of Internet freedom since becoming America’s top diplomat, come amid a groundswell of protests around the Middle East that have been abetted by online agitators using social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to organize anti-government demonstrations from Algeria to Yemen, Syria, Iran and Jordan.

Despite the Obama administration’s own problems with an unfettered Internet, most notably the release of hundreds of thousands of sensitive diplomatic documents by the WikiLeaks website, Clinton said the U.S. is unwavering in its commitment to cyber freedom, even as it seeks to prosecute online criminals and terrorists.

She drew a distinction between attempts to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing the material along with the suspected leaker, and measures taken by repressive regimes to crack down on opponents.

“The WikiLeaks incident began with a theft just as if it had been executed by smuggling papers in a briefcase,” she said. “The fact that Wikileaks used the Internet is not the reason we criticized it. Wikileaks does not challenge our commitment to Internet freedom.”

Clinton argued that the Internet is neither good nor bad, a force for neither liberation nor repression. It is the sum of what its users make it, she says.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

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8 Responses to "America to cyber-dissidents: ‘We’re with you’"

  1. Carl Nemo  February 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    “The WikiLeaks incident began with a theft just as if it had been executed by smuggling papers in a briefcase,” she said. “The fact that Wikileaks used the Internet is not the reason we criticized it. Wikileaks does not challenge our commitment to Internet freedom.” …extract from article

    Note: The massive Wiki leaks debacle couldn’t have occurred without the internet. If the leaks had been dependent upon our modern era MSM which is totally compromised, then no doubt the material would have censored with possibly the content returned to the goverment.

    Ah there’s nothing quite like the sophistry engaged by duplicitous leaders with an agenda. Our ballot box enfranchised dictators are on a roll destroying this nation before our very eyes. At least the dictators in far off places aren’t engaged in destroying their own nations other than them being engaged in quashing dissent.

    Seemingly the American people are at far greater hazard than those in China, Iran, Cuba, Syria, Vietnam, Egypt and Myanmar.

    SOS Clinton should be recommending Julian Assange for a Nobel Peace Prize…no? / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. Carl Nemo  February 16, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Every time I see Hillary’s photo or think about what Bill and She have done to our nation all for a campaign buck or two more and only the gods know what else my blood turns to icewater. : |

    During the 2008 campaign I ran across a superb spoof production of Hillary as “Big Sister” of which she’d both love to administer and fit the roll so well. She’s currently our SOS, but came ever so close to making it to the White House. The H.W. Bush > Bill Clinton > G.W. Bush > Barack Obama engineered line of succession is in place and thriving; all them working incrementally in destroying our nation before our very eyes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the flow diagram moving on to > Barack Obama > Jeb Bush. Hillary’s still quite young and in the wings too. She might become Obama’s running mate for 2012 to insure the Bush engineered CIA coup of presidential politics remains in place and unbroken.

    The Clintons and Obama’s are simply holding presidencies between the “flagship party” of the wealthy; ie., the Republicans can regain office. Does anyone else see this chain of ascendancy as having somewhat the smell of conspiracy in high places? Twenty of the past 30 years have been held by Republicans and it hasn’t been good for the Repubic. The compromised Dems simply relegated to holding party status. Any contentiousness between the parties is simply high theater for the unwashed masses. Both are feverisly driving this nation onto the rocks of destruction all for the benefit of their “New World Order” corporatist controllers.

    Her communique delivered with this article assuring cyber-dissdents that “we are with you” best fits this vidclip. I think readers will get both the message and the ‘chill’ that comes with its viewing. “Big Sister Lives”…! / : |

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. woody188  February 17, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Here is what your government really thinks of free speech.

  4. Tom  February 17, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Hillary declaring herself in favor of “free speech” is as believable as Reagan or Bush campaigning for free elections.

  5. woody188  February 18, 2011 at 2:14 am

    OMG! Check out what happened to former CIA analyst Ray McGovern for turning his back on Hilliary while she talked about how important individual freedoms are! Ray is 71 and he was dragged to the ground then pulled out of the auditorium and arrested for disorderly conduct just for turning his back on Clinton.

    There is no freedom of speech in the United States, just Free Speech Zones and unlimited political contributions.

    • Carl Nemo  February 18, 2011 at 2:33 am

      Yep Woody, as the spoof vidclip best demonstrates…”Billary” has the makings of “Big Sister”…no? Everything spewing from her mouth is nothing but “silver-tongued” lies sponsored by evil on earth incarnate. / : |

      The Clinton’s are favorites of the “Red Chinese”. They’d love to have the summary power over life and death that the oligarchs in Beijing enjoy…no?

      http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/5/26/214938.shtml

      Carl Nemo **==

      • griff  February 18, 2011 at 8:08 am

        “Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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