Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech on internet freedom today, in which she said the US will devote the "diplomatic, economic, and technological resources necessary" to press for internet freedom, could have broad implications for human rights online, Human Rights Watch said.
"Secretary Clinton has elevated internet freedom to a key US priority by confronting governments that censor online speech and supporting companies that stand up for human rights," said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director for Human Rights Watch. "The challenge now will be to put these goals into practice by incorporating internet freedom into diplomacy, trade policy, and meaningful pressure on companies to act responsibly."
In her speech today, Clinton recognized that an open internet is not just a matter of human rights, but integral to economic development and political stability, Human Rights Watch said. She criticized online censorship by allies and major trade partners, such as Saudi Arabia and China, and condemned governments, such as Egypt, for arresting bloggers. She also called on the Chinese government to investigate and publicly explain cyberattacks on Google that were disclosed last week. She articulated the administration's efforts to mobilize diplomacy, technology, responsible companies, and civil society to press for internet freedom.
"Censorship should not be in any way accepted by any company from anywhere," Clinton said in her speech. "And in America, American companies need to make a principled stand." She also said that the "private sector has a shared responsibility to help safeguard free expression. And when their business dealings threaten to undermine this freedom, they need to consider what's right, not simply the prospect of quick profits."
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