Establishing Global Internet Freedom:
Tear Down This Firewall
With nearly 10 percent of the world's population online, and more gaining access each day, the Internet stands to become the most powerful engine for democratization and the free exchange of ideas ever invented. But this great advance in individual liberty is itself the target of authoritarian governments that are aggressively blocking and censoring the Internet. Those who resist these government controls face torture and imprisonment for accessing such “subversive” material as news from the Washington Post, the BBC, CNN, and the Voice of America.
The success of U.S. policy in support of the universal human rights of freedom of speech, press, and association requires new initiatives to defeat totalitarian controls over the Internet. If the benefits of the Internet can reach more and more people around the globe, then repressive governments will reform or fall as the citizenry gain the means to exchange views, to obtain information, and to let their voices be heard. To defend and promote freedom, the United States must speak forcefully in support of its expression on the Internet, work internationally to protect people's Internet access, and direct international broadcasting resources to combat Internet jamming technologies.
Increasingly, nondemocratic regimes around the world are denying their peoples unrestricted access to the Internet. Cuba, Laos, North Korea, the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Vietnam are the most notorious violators of Internet freedom. These governments, according to the U.S. State Department and such organizations as Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders, are using methods of control that include denying their