Secretary Clinton: The Internet Has Become The World’s Town Square
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the stage at George Washington University today to address ‘Internet Freedom’ and ways that the U.S. can ensure free internet access around the world. You can watch a live video of the speech on Facebook here. The announcement is timed with the measures taken by the Egyptian government to restrict internet access to citizens during the massive protests against the Mubarak regime. Much of the organization of the initial protests and rallies in Egypt took place over Twitter and Facebook over the past few weeks.
Clinton, who previously called on former Egyptian president Mubarak unblock social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, said that Egypt did not want the world to watch or witness what was taking place in the country. She drew similarities to the protests in Iran last year, where the internet and cellphone access were also shut down by the government.
Unlike, the situation in Iran, the story ended differently for Egypt. The internet is an accelerant of the way to start political change, says Clinton, and there is now a debate of whether internet is a voice for surpression or liberation. But with 2 billion people online worldwide, Clinton says that the internet has become the world’s Town Square, where people are assembling to connect with each other. And that presents a challenge, says Clinton. “We need to have a serious conversation about what rules should exists and not exist and why.” She adds, “the freedom to assemble and associate is applicable to cyberspace.”
Clinton explains, “For the U.S. the choice is clear— we place ourselves on the side of openness. Internet freedom raises tensions like all freedoms do but the benefits outweigh the costs.”