Hillary Clinton Talks The Talk On Internet Freedom; Will The Administration Walk The Walk?

from the let's-see... dept

A year ago, Hillary Clinton gave a speech about the importance of "internet freedom" that many of us later pointed out appeared to be in stark contrast with the federal government's (including Secretary of State Clinton's) reaction to the publishing of various State Department cables. So a lot of folks were interested in what Clinton had planned for her followup speech on internet freedoms, which she gave yesterday. I've embedded the full speech below, but you can also read a summary of the speech at Wired.

On the whole, the speech is surprisingly good in many places. It's upfront and doesn't beat around the bush on issues that I expected she would gloss over (if she mentioned at all). It lays out some specific principles, noting that the idea that to have more security you need to sacrifice liberty is a false dilemma. It also notes that transparency and confidentiality need not be in conflict. These are a bit surprising in that the easy political win would have been to just position those as scales that need "balance." But she didn't do that, which I appreciate.

On top of that, she did not ignore or run away from the whole Wikileaks thing, but did actually address the issue head on, noting that the federal government has not officially opposed Wikileaks or put pressure on companies not to work with Wikileaks. Also, she claims that their only main concern was with the initial copying of the documents and the impact it may have on certain people's security, rather than the bigger issue of publishing the documents.

Of course, the obvious response is that these are just words, and the reality of the situation isn't quite as clear. Why the administration may not have officially put pressure on companies, many companies have said that they felt pressure from the federal government, and such pressure can be just as bad, if not worse. On top of that, as a bunch of folks at the Berkman Center laid out, it appears that the the government's actions do not live up to Secretary Clinton's words in many cases. Furthermore, there's clearly an awful lot of rationalization on the part of Clinton in trying to explain how Wikileaks is different, even though she fails to explain how it really is any different.

So, while it's nice to hear her actually take on some of these issues with forthright statements that we agree with, rather than the easy political platitudes, there remains serious problems in how the federal government fails to actually live up to what Secretary Clinton claims the US supports.

Also, as noted by Ethan Zuckerman, one major factor missing from her speech is the high level of involvement by US companies in the tools that can help censor the internet. While the speech talks about encouraging more companies to create tools for freedom, even funding companies that help create anti-censorship tools, this falls far short of making sure that US companies also are not acting as chokepoints and bottlenecks where anyone, even the US government, can seek to censor content online.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    weneedhelp (profile), Feb 16th, 2011 @ 6:48am

    Will The Administration Walk The Walk?

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 16th, 2011 @ 7:09am

    Understanding Governance

    Best explained by a joke:

    Two alligators who both live by eating politicians are talking to one another. One is emaciated, the other quite bulky. The emaciated one asks why his counter-part appears to well fed, when he's so under-fed.

    The svelte gator inquires as the the thin gators methods...

    To which the thin gator replies "I catch the politician and shake the shit out of 'em, and then I eat."

    The svelte gator exclaims "Well, there's your problem! If you shake the shit out of 'em, there's nothing left but lips and an expensive suit."

    - - = - = - -

    Short answer, lip service only. No real action--unless it's pressuring other countries to live up to the standards the US only gives lip service to.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Feb 16th, 2011 @ 7:10am

    All talk no doubt. As usual - who would expect otherwise with Politicians?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Of course the real difference with Wikileaks is it showed the US government to be full of lying, scheming politicians that had no problem lying to other governments. As long as Wikileaks was embarrassing other governments the US wouldn't have said anything.

     

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    crade (profile), Feb 16th, 2011 @ 8:09am

    "the federal government has not officially opposed Wikileaks or put pressure on companies "
    Yeah, it's worse than that, the federal government has unofficially done those things instead.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2011 @ 8:40am

    On that the U.S. government is no different from the Iranian regime they differ only on the tactics but both lie their ass off to the public.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    I think you have to take Clinton's comments and line them up with reality. The "right" to the internet isn't a "right" like the first amendment. It's something that is good. But it doesn't trump the laws of the country, it doesn't permit speech that would otherwise not be permitted, and doesn't allow for illegal activities that would not be permitted "in the real world".

    Yours rights and your "rights" are different things.

     

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      crade (profile), Feb 16th, 2011 @ 9:30am

      Re:

      What are you getting at? I don't think anyone has ever proposed any law to say any of the regular laws shouldn't apply while people are on the internet.

       

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    Vic Livingston, Feb 16th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    HIllary takes on Lockheed Martin Global (Censorship) Solutions

    Sec. Clinton said all the right things. Now she must demand that the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department directly challenge Lockheed Martin, prime cyber-contractor to the U.S. government and to governments around the world, to take down its illicit censorship regime -- which apparently takes its orders from secret services, militaries and intelligence agencies, not from secretaries of state:

    http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-govt-censors-internet-political-speech-fraud-deception

     

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      velox (profile), Feb 16th, 2011 @ 11:54pm

      Re: HIllary takes on Lockheed Martin Global (Censorship) Solutions

      Hmm. Mr. Livingston: If what your site claims is true, then that would indeed be very disturbing.

      On the other hand, have you considered other possibilities. Have you possibly been caught up in an anti spam filter which has tagged you out because of the way you launch multiple repeating posts??

       

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    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 16th, 2011 @ 7:33pm

    Blast from the past

    Copying myself from the clinton speech. Bares repeating.

    Just to point out Mike she's hedging way way bad with this.

    American companies need to make a principled stand. This needs to be part of our national brand. Iím confident that consumers worldwide will reward companies that follow those principles.

    I actually laughed out loud at this. Sorry it wasn't "against" anything Mike. Principles according to whom?

     

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    velox (profile), Feb 16th, 2011 @ 11:57pm

    Ms. Clinton's words would seem to provide cause for optimism. Unfortunately however, the track record doesn't match the words.

     

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    DanVan (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 4:13pm

    Much like torture, we want other countries to not touch our military, have completely free internet, etc....yet we can do whatever we want

    We redefine hypocrisy

     

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    nathan, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    what about sex offender being banned on the internet you can't have it both way..

     

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