Just a day after Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., held a hearing this week to examine global Internet freedom, the Washington Post reported on the Iranian government’s crackdown on Internet sites related to women’s issues and human rights.

Some of the sites, including http://wwwchange4equality.net, were among those involved in an online petition seeking 1 million signatures in hopes of encouraging the government to change what activists say are laws that discriminate against women.

Today, the Computer & Communications Industry Association has sent a letter to the State Department, asking the administration to oppose constricting information in all forms. Restricting information in the media and elsewhere is a long used tool by undemocratic regimes. The letter asks the State Department to raise Internet censorship as a human rights issue on its diplomatic agenda.

“The Internet can be a powerful tool to exchange ideas, which is a critical component of a free and democratic society. Internet freedom also can be the first step toward political awareness and empowerment for those who live under regimes who use information crackdowns to oppose opposition. The United States, which created this tool, should be a lead advocate to make sure it is used to support free expression and free people, not oppress them,” CCIA President and CEO Ed Black said.

CCIA also sent a letter when a recent State Department report took China off the list of countries with the worst human rights abuses. That letter asked for more information on what weight the state department gave Internet censorship in its decision.

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