Governments should not prevent people from connecting to Web sites and each other. That was one of the key messages from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a speech on Internet freedom Thursday at the Newseum in Washington.
She talked about censorhip around the world, including China, but suggested U.S. companies need to lead by example.
Clinton likened the freedom to connect to the Internet to freedom of assembly during a speech about digital freedoms that mirrored the Four Freedoms speech of Franklin Roosevelt.
The speech was staking out Internet freedom as a key to foreign and domestic policy going forward. "An attack on one nation's network is an attack on all," she said. She said the message was for this country as well as our neighbors.
Clinton said that freedom to connect is critically important to individuals as well as to nations. Unfettered access to search engine technology is crucial, she said.
But while the U.S. is committed to advance Internet freedoms, she also said it was committed to making sure that information is secure. Everyone's networks need to stay free, secure and reliable, she said, adding that those who disrupt the free flow of information pose a major threat.
She announced that over the next year, the administration will work with academia and the private sector to provide new tools to help citizens engage with and criticize their government at home and abroad.Mobile application developers will get funds to help develop applications to do that and much
The administration is launching a contest for new applications, like microsoft's digital doctor, and will provide grants to develop them.
U.S. companies are making Internet freedom a greater part of their business, she said, and added she hoped businesses in other countries will follow suit. Countries that restrict free access to information risk walling themnselves off from the progress of the next century, she said.
Clinton also noted that the State Department will be convening high-level meetings with network services firms next month to talk about Internet freedom.
According to Clinton, the U.S. has made enormous progress in our country in bridging the digital divide, but more needs to be done to encourge access.