January 21, 2010 / 5:21 PM / 10 years ago

Highlights of Clinton speech on Internet freedom

(For full coverage of Google in China see [ID:nCHINA])

WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday all companies should reject censorship and urged China to thoroughly investigate cyber attacks that led Google to threaten to pull out of the nation.

Following are highlights of her speech:

INTERNET FREEDOM GOOD FOR BUSINESS

“We feel strongly that principles like information freedom aren’t just good policy, not just somehow connected to our national values, but they are universal and they are also good for business. To use market terminology, a publicly listed company in Tunisia or Vietnam that operates in an environment of censorship will always trade at a discount relative to an identical firm in a free society. If corporate decision makers don’t have access to global sources of news and information, investors will have less confidence in their decisions over the long term. Countries that censor news and information must recognize that, from an economic standpoint, there is no distinction between censoring political speech and commercial speech. If businesses in your nations are denied access to either type of information, it will inevitably impact on growth. Increasingly, U.S. companies are making the issue of Internet and information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions. I hope that their competitors and foreign governments will pay close attention to this trend.”

CHINA SHOULD OPENLY INVESTIGATE CYBER ATTACKS ON GOOGLE

“The most recent situation involving Google has attracted a great deal of interest and we look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make its announcement. And we also look for that investigation and its results to be transparent. The Internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China, and it is fabulous there are so many people in China now online. But 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. The United States and China have different views on this issue. And we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently in the context of our positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship.”

NO COMPANY SHOULD ACCEPT CENSORSHIP

“For companies, this issue is about more than claiming the moral high ground; it really comes down to the trust between firms and their customers. Consumers everywhere want to have confidence that the Internet companies they rely on will provide comprehensive search results and act as responsible stewards of their own personal information. Firms that earn the confidence of those countries and basically provide that kind of service will prosper in the global marketplace. I really believe that those who lose that confidence of their customers will eventually lose customers. You know, no matter where you live, people want to believe that what they put in to the Internet is not going to be used against them. And censorship should not be in any way accepted by any company from anywhere. And in America, American companies need to make a principled stand. This needs to be part of our national brand. I am confident that consumers worldwide will reward companies that follow those principles.”

TECHNOLOGY A MIXED BLESSING

“Amid this unprecedented surge in connectivity, we must also recognize that these technologies are not an unmitigated blessing. These tools are also being exploited to undermine human progress and political rights ... The same networks that help organize movements for freedom also enable al Qaeda to spew hatred and incite violence against the innocent. And technologies with the potential to open up access to government and promote transparency can also be hijacked by governments to crush dissent and deny human rights.”

CHINA, OTHERS FAULTED FOR INTERNET CENSORSHIP

“In the last year, we’ve seen a spike in threats to the free flow of information. China, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan have stepped up their censorship of the Internet. In Vietnam, access to popular social networking sites has suddenly disappeared. And last Friday in Egypt, 30 bloggers and activists were detained ... Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks. They have expunged words, names and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in nonviolent political speech. These actions contravene the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which tells us that all people have the right ‘to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’ With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world.”

FIGHTING ILLS NO EXCUSE FOR REPRESSION

“All societies recognize that free expression has its limits. We do not tolerate those who incite others to violence, such as the agents of al Qaeda who are at this moment using the Internet to promote the mass murder of innocent people. And hate speech that targets individuals on the basis of their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation is reprehensible. It is an unfortunate fact that these issues are both growing challenges that the international community must confront together. And we must also grapple with the issue of anonymous speech. Those who use the Internet to recruit terrorists or distribute stolen intellectual property cannot divorce their online actions from their real world identities. But these challenges must not become an excuse for governments to systematically violate the rights and privacy of those who use the Internet for peaceful political purposes.”

SAUDI ARABIA, VIETNAM, CHINA RAPPED ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

“Some nations, however, have co-opted the Internet as a tool to target and silence people of faith. Last year, for example, in Saudi Arabia, a man spent months in prison for blogging about Christianity. And a Harvard study found that the Saudi government blocked many web pages about Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and even Islam. Countries including Vietnam and China employed similar tactics to restrict access to religious information ... Just as these technologies must not be used to punish peaceful political speech, they must also not be used to persecute or silence religious minorities. 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.” (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Paul Eckert)

0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below