In an address at the Newseum, Secretary Clinton spoke on the importance of freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet. The Secretary said:
"On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic."
Secretary Clinton outlined five key freedoms of the Internet Age. First among them is the freedom of expression. Secretary Clinton said, “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, email, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas – and created new targets for censorship. As I speak to you today, government censors are working furiously to erase my words from the records of history. But history itself has already condemned these tactics."
The freedom of expression may be the most obvious freedom to face challenges with the spread of new technologies, but it is not alone. Secretary Clinton also spoke about the freedom of worship. She said, “Prayers will always travel on higher networks. But connection technologies like the internet and social networking sites should enhance individuals’ ability to worship as they see fit, come together with people of their own faith, and learn more about the beliefs of others. We must work to advance the freedom of worship online just as we do in other areas of life.”
Secretary Clinton continued, “We know from long experience that promoting social and economic development in countries where people lack access to knowledge, markets, capital, and opportunity can be frustrating, and sometimes futile work. In this context, the Internet can serve as a great equalizer. By providing people with access to knowledge and potential markets, networks can create opportunity where none exists.”
There are hundreds of millions of people living without the benefits of these technologies. In many cases, the Internet, mobile phones and other connection technologies can do for economic growth what the green revolution did for agriculture. Information networks should be used to help lift people out of poverty, to advance freedom from want.
Some, though, will use global information networks for darker purposes. Violent extremists, criminal cartels, sexual predators and authoritarian governments all seek to exploit global networks. Secretary Clinton underscored that we must ensure the freedom from fear for those who use the Internet for peaceful purposes. The Secretary said, “Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation. In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all. By reinforcing that message, we can create norms of behavior among states and encourage respect for the global networked commons.”
The Secretary then said, "The final freedom I want to address today flows from the four I've already mentioned: the freedom to connect -- the idea that governments should not prevent people from connecting to the Internet, to websites, or to each other. The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyber space. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate in the name of progress. Once you’re on the Internet, you don’t need to be a tycoon or a rock star to have a huge impact on society.”
The Secretary announced that the State Department and USAID will work with a wide range of partners outside of government to build upon these principles going forward and that by harnessing the power of connection technologies we will practice 21st century statecraft that empowers citizens, and leverages our traditional diplomacy.
The Secretary said, "We are well placed to seize the opportunities that come with interconnectivity. And as the birthplace for so many of these technologies, we have a responsibility to see them used for good. To do that, we need to develop our capacity for 21st century statecraft.”
The State Department will launch programs to promote Internet freedom, expand access to the Internet by women and other groups; implement programs which trains and supports civil society groups and NGOs in the use of new media technologies that enhance communication and coordination efforts; and support a series of pilot projects starting this spring that will use new media to connect people -- particularly young people -- to expand civic participation and increase the new media capabilities of civil society in the Middle East and North Africa.
Secretary Clinton concluded, “We need to create a world in which access to networks and information brings people closer together, and expands our definition of community. Given the magnitude of the challenges we’re facing, we need people around the world to pool their knowledge and creativity to help rebuild the global economy, protect our environment, defeat violent extremism, and build a future in which every human being can realize their God-given potential.” Full Text