Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Thursday unrestricted Internet access will be a top diplomatic priority. The State Department estimates that 30 percent of the global population lives in nations that censor the Internet, and Clinton outlined plans to change that.

Among the tools will be grants to promote government transparency online and for organizations that promote Internet freedom.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association applauds the Obama Administration’s 21st Century Statecraft initiatives focused on both diplomatic and global economic development goals. Clinton said unfettered access to search engine technology is so important to the everyday lives of people around the world.

The following statement can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“Full access to the Internet for communication, education and economic opportunity needs to be seen not just as a first amendment issue in this country, but understood as a human rights issue around the world. Internet freedom is nothing less than freedom of expression in the 21st century.

“Safeguarding the open flow of information and ideas over the Internet should rank at the top of our diplomatic agenda and trade agenda. Examples of Internet spying and censorship provide a rallying point in this battle. But a critical ongoing threat to Internet freedom will be well-meaning efforts to address undesirable behavior on the Internet — and half-hearted efforts to defend against those seemingly benign erosions of Internet freedom.

“Allowing policies that chip away at Internet freedom is one of the biggest failures of the past decade. But it’s not too late to reverse this course and the Obama Administration seems to be paying attention.

“We welcome this long overdue modernization of our U.S. foreign policy framework to elevate and clarify the role of Constitutional values such as the First Amendment in our global information economy and digital Internet age.“From the start, Sec. Clinton has recognized the importance of technology to our diplomatic agenda. The explosive growth in the use of mobile phones all over the world has so greatly enabled everyday communications that exciting new solutions to old problems are evident.“Internet freedom is now an essential ingredient for economic empowerment, human rights and national security, and these goals must be approached by the U.S. government in concert with each other. We hope Clinton’s speech will lead not to global governance, but a commitment to common ethics and practices around the world that support a framework for Internet Freedom.”

 

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