Clinton Says Countries Must Prioritize Internet Openness, Freedom

BY Heather Greenfield
December 9, 2011
Secretary Hillary Clinton told audiences connected in online broadcasts throughout the world Thursday that Internet freedom is a human rights issue and keeping the Internet open is a top diplomatic priority for the United States. The Netherlands hosted the Internet freedom event in the Hague along with a panel discussion at the Newseum in Washington DC.
“What we do today to preserve fundamental freedoms online will have a profound effect on the next generation of Internet users,” Clinton said.

Both she and Washington panelists made references to the IP legislation the House is scheduled to markup next week, HR. 3261 or SOPA, pushed by entertainment lawyers that would create a privatized Internet censorship regime in the United States.

“And let me be clear: The challenge of maintaining security and of combating cyber crime, such as the theft of intellectual property, are real — a point I underscore whenever I discuss these issues,” Clinton said. She said governments can deal with these problems without “compromising the global network, its dynamism or our principles.”

CCIA President & CEO Ed Black told the Washington audience that threats to the open Internet can be “direct or indirect for seemingly laudable goals” – but that the United States needed to be vigilant about all threats as the US model for Internet openness should be a model for the rest of the world.

The president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, Leslie Harris, agreed saying the special interests pushing the IP  legislation are “producing sound and fury” to wisk their legislation through the House next week. But Harris said the question is how to solve the real problem of copyright infringement online “without collateral damage to the Internet.”

Reps. Issa, R-Calif., and Lofgren, D-Calif., were among a bipartisan group of members who introduced a draft alternative to SOPA and PROTECT IP Thursday. The bill would take a “follow the money” approach to shut down funding to the real rogue foreign websites without regulating and censoring the Internet or shutting down legitimate domains in the process. They’re now seeking input from all stakeholders on the more targeted proposal.

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