Hillary Clinton Talks The Talk On Internet Freedom; Will The Administration Walk The Walk?
from the let's-see... dept
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.