Human Rights

Clinton urges support for internet freedom

By Kemo Cham
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has added her voice to global call for press freedom, urging for open access to the internet. She used a speech she delivered at the Newseum journalism museum in Washington D.C on Thursday and called for uncensored Internet access around the world. “In many respects, information has never been so free. Blogs, e-mail, and text messages have opened up a new forum for exchanging ideas and created new targets for censorship,” Clinton said. “We need to create a world in which access to networks and information brings people closer together and expands our definition of community.” Stressing the significance of five fundamental freedoms: speech, worship, freedom from fear of cyber attacks, freedom from “want” (i.e., alleviating suffering), and freedom to connect, Clinton warned countries which have employed tactics of restricting Internet access by blocking certain Web sites and search engines, or violating privacy by spying on their citizens’ Web use, that they will only “risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century.” To the business community, she advised against yielding to pressure from governments to censor themselves in violation of human rights. She urged companies to resist such pressures even if it means losing business in those countries, and argued that a principled stand would be good for business over the long run. “This issue is about more than claiming the moral high ground,” she said. “It comes down to trust between firms and their customers. Consumers everywhere want to have confidence that the companies they rely on will act as responsible stewards of their information.”  Although this statement may be seen as directed towards bigger countries with dominant markets that businesses find hard to ignore, it appears to mean a lot in the African context, where business owners of all categories have been taking part in perpetrating dictatorship by submitting themselves entirely to government in the sole interest of their businesses.  She however concluded with a warning that there will be “consequences and international condemnation” for cyber attacks. Source:Information Week

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