January 21, 2010

Secretary Clinton on Internet Freedom and Iran

In what was touted as a major policy speech announcing the State Department’s new Internet freedom initiative, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton today committed the US to a broad new effort to advance and protect the right of all people to access the Internet freely.
In her speech, Clinton highlighted the important role that cyber communications have played in Iran, describing online organizing as “a critical tool for advancing democracy, and enabling citizens to protest suspicious election results.”
Clinton’s comments on Iran also focused on  reports of Iranian government efforts to intimidate Iranians abroad, as well as the death of Neda Soltan:

In the demonstrations that followed Iran’s presidential elections, grainy cell phone footage of a young woman’s bloody murder provided a digital indictment of the government’s brutality. We’ve seen reports that when Iranians living overseas posted online criticism of their nation’s leaders, their family members in Iran were singled out for retribution. And despite an intense campaign of government intimidation, brave citizen journalists in Iran continue using technology to show the world and their fellow citizens what is happening in their country. In speaking out on behalf of their own human rights the Iranian people have inspired the world.
And their courage is redefining how technology is used to spread truth and expose injustice.

Clinton framed Internet freedom as a human rights issue, noting that the right to free expression and to receive information is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Article 19 of the Declaration states that all people “have right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

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