In a policy address, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls
Internet freedom of expression a vital agent of change. But security
is still important, she adds, calling WikiLeaks documents 'stolen.'
Shucking her governmental surroundings for the halls of academia,
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a tightly-
scripted speech Tuesday on the power, promise, and perils of the
Internet, a force whose potential to influence world affairs has
been evident in the pro-democracy movement sweeping the Middle East.
In a multi-layered speech at George Washington University,
Secretary Clinton also took the opportunity to clearly state the
Obama administration position on the WikiLeaks saga, calling the
leaked documents "stolen" and saying their publication raises
serious questions about how to balance freedom of speech with
legitimate security needs.
"Without security, liberty is fragile," she said. "Without
liberty, security is oppressive."
Clinton's speech, titled "Internet rights and wrongs: choices and
challenges in a networked world," was framed with a compelling
account of the vital role of "connection" technology, as she dubbed
it, in bringing about social and political change in Tunisia and
She also dwelt on the repressive governments that have attempted
to squelch Internet freedoms as a means to hold back free political
expression, ticking off a laundry list of offenders. This rogue's
gallery includes everyone from Cuba - currently in the throes of
trying to replace a genuine Internet with a government-controlled
"intranet" - to the "awful" Iran as it cracks down on protesters and
uses social media to hunt down its opponents.
Calling the Internet the "public space" of the future - a vital,
global town square in which everyone shares an equal interest -
Clinton enumerated all the reasons that freedom of expression must
be the overriding ethos of this worldwide landscape. The cure for
hate speech, she said, is "more speech," not suppressed speech. She
also described what she called the ultimate futility of a separation
between the economic Internet and the "everything else Internet."
Without question, the speech was an opportunity for the US to
deliver a forceful message as the turmoil in the Middle East
continues to unfold, says intellectual property attorney Scott
Austin, a partner in the Miami office of Gordon & Rees and a
consultant for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN), the governing body for Internet protocols. …