Thursday, January 21, 2010

Internet Freedom: A New Human Right

Alec Ross,  pictured below, was on NPR this morning in this segment. He's been recruited to  be an  a Senior Advisor for Innovation, to modernize the State Department's branches with up-to-date technologies, to endorse modern technology as a platform for innovation and to network with other countries to track criminals.

Alec Ross

The federal government thinks companies like Google--and the 30+ other companies that have been hacked--shouldn't have to worry about cyber attacks. (That'll be the day!) The reason is, President Obama's Administration believes the ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is essential to innovation and prosperity and as a means to improve general welfare around the globe. Internet freedom as a concept draws in other concepts of freedom.

President Obama elevated internet freedom to a basic human right in his speech at the Shanghai Town Hall, and Secretary Clinton made a major foreign policy address today on the same topic. Clinton said in her speech "those who disrupt the free flow of information pose a major threat."

Hillary Clinton

Did you know that 31% of internet users are forced to use censored sites? The United States Government wants an explanation. Internet freedom is a global issue now that Google has decided it will not continue to censor its Chinese sites. Extreme examples of censorship abound in a country-by-country examination around the world. The State Department advocates the use of tools of digital diplomacy. We can each become a "Global Citizen."

News of so-called honor killings in the Middle East of women accused of using social media sites shocked my sixteen-year-old daughter and myself as I drove her to school this morning. Women and other human beings around the world have a right to an uncensored internet. (One has to be skeptical the beings (probably men) who would do these beatings and killings count as humans). We in the West tend to take freedom on the internet as a given, as a huge repository of the world's knowledge.

The American government approves and encourages the use of Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and the internet in general to spread information. Alec Ross is also interested in promoting the use of radio communications to aid overseas fighting and cell phones to aid law enforcement.

The State Department (here with a video of Clinton's speech at the Newseum) is planning to offer tools and resources on its website to encourage free use of the internet.

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