Reform Groups Seize On Clinton's 'Internet Freedom' Speech

Hillary Clinton

Consumer advocates say that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's sweeping call Thursday for global Internet freedom lends support to their calls for new domestic laws about matters like text messaging, net neutrality and privacy.

In her broad remarks, Clinton criticized repressive regimes for censorship of all types of new media, including text messages. "Blogs, emails, social networks, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas, and created new targets for censorship," she said.

Clinton also broadly touted the Internet's role in enabling free speech. "The internet is a network that magnifies the power and potential of all others. And that's why we believe it's critical that its users are assured certain basic freedoms. Freedom of expression is first among them," she said.

She also spoke of the "freedom to connect" -- calling it a "final freedom" that was inherent in Franklin Roosevelt's famous "four freedoms" speech of 1941. "It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate," Clinton said of the freedom to connect. "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 neutrality advocacy group Open Internet Coalition seized on those remarks to support the need for net neutrality laws in the U.S. that would require Internet service providers to let consumers access all lawful content.

"We must also protect the rights of individual free expression on the Internet at home as well as abroad because neither government nor network provider should be able to interfere with this freedom," the Open Internet Coalition said after Clinton's speech. "The current effort at the FCC to enact common-sense rules to ensure the Internet remains a platform for free expression at home is critical to making sure that the freedom of choice for our own citizens is protected."

Advocacy group Public Knowledge added that Clinton's remarks about texting highlighted the need for laws banning censorship of SMS. "While Secretary Clinton commented on the benefits of text messaging as a means of expression abroad, there are no legal protections for text messaging here," Public Knowledge president and co-founder Gigi Sohn said in a statement.

She then urged the FCC to act on the petition filed by Public Knowledge and other groups in late 2007 seeking to have the commission prohibit wireless carriers from blocking text messages based on content. That request was largely sparked by Verizon's brief refusal earlier that year to issue a short code to the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America.

2 comments about "Reform Groups Seize On Clinton's 'Internet Freedom' Speech".
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  1. Dean Collins from Cognation Inc, January 22, 2010 at 7:56 a.m.

    So Hillary Clinton spent an hour demanding a free and open internet for all citizens of the world, obviously aimed at the Chinese/Google debacle.

    But i wonder if this is going to change how the USA enforces its own policies on not only its citizens but also other countries who do not follow the laws 'as the USA see it'.

    Does Hillary Clinton also propose that the USA should stop blocking Antigua online gambling and accept the WTO ruling of 2007.

    Will the USA finally accept other countries can make their own sovereign laws and the USA doesnt "own the internet".

    I doubt it - i guess it's only another example of the usa telling those third world asians to follow the usa "way of white life" or else.


  2. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, January 25, 2010 at 2:56 a.m.

    Not only is Dean right on the money (excuse the pun) using online gambling as an example of the hypocrisy of American politicians (like Hillary) regarding calls for a "free Internet," look at the way the Republican Supreme Court justices tried to uphold the part of the Communications "Decency" Act (CDA) that would have made webmasters responsible for what guests said as comments and not allowed "sex offenders" (including people caught streaking at baseball games) to post comments online at all. The liberal Supreme Court justices saved Americans and the world on that one - and I say even though I am still a hard-core Republican for the following reason: after liberal judges rightfully stopped Republican attempts to force jail inmates to identify themselves online, the Democrats turned around and adopted the feminist-inspired IMBRA law which forces totally innocent US males to be background checked before being allowed to communicate online with foreign women (whom the feminists call "Mail Order Brides" to belittle them as competition). The worst thing about the law is that foreigners are forced to give an electronic signature before *they* are allowed to talk with an American online. A Republican Bush-Junior-appointee, Thomas Rose, said of IMBRA "there is no fundamental liberty interest in an American contacting a foreigner" - basically upholding a law pushed by the NOW which votes 100% Democrat.

    Those of us who want to discuss the Constitution are consistently ignored in the old media like TV and a lot of so-called "Constitutionalists" on Internet forums like Twitter are into just talking about their own hobby-horses like "marijuana rights."

    The American left (Hillary Clinton) and right (Sam Brownback) are hellbent on taking away everyone's Internet freedom - all Congress has to do is name a law in a manner that invokes "protection of women and children" like the 1930s German government always did - so I consider the US Congress and Supreme Court to be much, much more dangerous to the world on that score than the Chinese or Iranian governments.

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