Clinton Stands Up for Internet Freedom

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a major address this morning on Internet Freedom.  She riffed on FDR's "Four Freedoms," laid down the gauntlet with states that curtail internet freedom, and wrapped it up with this analogy about a Hatian girl who was saved by a text message.  It gave me goosebumps:

So let me close by asking you to remember the little girl who was pulled from the rubble on Monday in Port-au-Prince. She’s alive, she was reunited with her family, she will have the chance to grow up because these networks took a voice that was buried and spread it to the world. No nation, no group, no individual should stay buried in the rubble of oppression. We cannot stand by while people are separated from the human family by walls of censorship. And we cannot be silent about these issues simply because we cannot hear the cries.

Clinton NewseumAs a reader of this blog, I'll have to insist that you read the whole thing, or watch the video here. I'll give out prizes to anybody who does both.

Really, this was an important speech. More than anything we've heard previously, this begins to lay out some of the ideas that will underpin the "Obama Doctrine." Secretary Clinton took a strong, unambiguous position for the freedom of information.  Even if she's not particularly savvy with the technology itself (she joked about this), Secretary Clinton understands its power, and she spoke as someone who has imagined a truly networked world-- in all its potential and all its risks. 

Anyhow, I liked the speech, and NDN liked the speech, as it was very much in line with some of our most foundational arguments. Here are some other people who have used their access to the global network to share their feelings about the speech:

- Ethan Zuckerman was encouraged "to hear Secretary Clinton sounding like a dyed in the wool cyberutopian."

- Jose Antonio Vargas applauds Clinton's adoption of the idea that access to the internet, in repressed states, can be equivalent to freedom.

- The Guardian offered a good preview of the speech yesterday, illustrating some of the intellectual roots of the ideas it contained.  They also managed to squeeze in a quote from yours truly, vastly upping the quality of the piece in the eyes of my mother.

- Senator John Kerry echoes many of Clinton's sentiments and ideas.

- Evgeny Morozov, who doesn't like anything, didn't like the speech.  Some valid criticism, some less so.

- The AP read the speech as an assault on China and other censorious countries. Strange reading, I'd say.