12 December 2011. A sends:
Clinton's comments contradict how the WikiLeaks-Bradley Manning Cablegate
affair is being handled by the USG. And her accusations of government and
commercial abuse and spying on the Internet apply to the US and its allies.
The conference session should face these contradictions and if not resolve
them establish principles and an agenda to do so. A demonstration of genuine
Internet freedom would be the release of Bradley Manning and termination
of the USG prosecutorial Cablegate investigation. As well as drop the
of State Department employee Peter Van Buren for linking to a WL document.
It's a pleasure to join you here today to discuss this issue, because we
think it is vitally important to every nation represented and every nation
in the world; namely, internet freedom. And I want to thank Uri and the
Netherlands for hosting this conference, which is a reflection of your long
tradition of defending and advancing people's human rights and fundamental
freedoms everywhere, including online. And thanks as well to the representatives
of nearly two dozen other governments here, all of whom I know will be working
to get real solutions and recommendations agreed to tomorrow. I'm pleased
we also have representatives from the private sector and civil society. So
it all adds up to a multi-stakeholder event.
Now, in two days, on December 10th, we'll celebrate Human Rights
Day, which is the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. And in the 63 years since that achievement, the world has
been implementing a global commitment around the rights and freedoms of people
everywhere, no matter where they live or who they are. And today, as people
increasingly turn to the internet to conduct important aspects of their lives,
we have to make sure that human rights are as respected online as offline.
After all, the right to express one's views, practice one's faith, peacefully
assemble with others to pursue political or social change â
these are all rights to which all human beings are entitled, whether they
choose to exercise them in a city square or an internet chat room. And just
as we have worked together since the last century to secure these rights
in the material world, we must work together in this century to secure them
This is an urgent task. It is most urgent, of course, for those around the
world whose words are now censored, who are imprisoned because of what they
or others have written online, who are blocked from accessing entire categories
of internet content, or who are being tracked by governments seeking to keep
them from connecting with one another.
In Syria, a blogger named Anas Maarawi was arrested on July 1st
after demanding that President Asad leave. He's not been charged with anything,
but he remains in detention. In both Syria and Iran, many other online activists
-- actually too many to name -- have been detained, imprisoned, beaten, and
even killed for expressing their views and organizing their fellow citizens.
And perhaps the most well known blogger in Russia, Alexei Navalny, was sentenced
on Tuesday to 15 days in jail after he took part in protests over the Russian
In China, several dozen companies signed a pledge in October, committing
to strengthen their -- quote -- "self-management, self-restraint, and strict
self-discipline." Now, if they were talking about fiscal responsibility,
we might all agree. But they were talking about offering web-based services
to the Chinese people, which is code for getting in line with the government's
tight control over the internet.
Now, these and many other incidents worldwide remind us of the stakes in
this struggle. And the struggle does not belong only to those on the front
lines and who are suffering. It belongs to all of us: first, because we all
have a responsibility to support human rights and fundamental freedoms
everywhere. Second, because the benefits of the network grow as the number
of users grow. The internet is not exhaustible or competitive. My use of
the internet doesn't diminish yours. On the contrary, the more people that
are online and contributing ideas, the more valuable the entire network becomes
to all the other users. In this way, all users, through the billions of
individual choices we make about what information to seek or share, fuel
innovation, enliven public debates, quench a thirst for knowledge, and connect
people in ways that distance and cost made impossible just a generation ago.
But when ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled, and
people constrained in their choices, the internet is diminished for all of
us. What we do today to preserve fundamental freedoms online will have a
profound effect on the next generation of users. More than two billion people
are now connected to the internet, but in the next 20 years, that number
will more than double. And we are quickly approaching the day when more than
a billion people are using the internet in repressive countries. The pledges
we make and the actions we take today can help us determine whether that
number grows or shrinks, or whether the meaning of being on the internet
is totally distorted.
Delivering on internet freedom requires cooperative actions, and we have
to foster a global conversation based on shared principles and with the right
partners to navigate the practical challenges of maintaining an internet
that is open and free while also interoperable, secure, and reliable. Now,
this enterprise isn't a matter of negotiating a single document and calling
the job done. It requires an ongoing effort to reckon with the new reality
that we live in, in a digital world, and doing so in a way that maximizes
Because the advent of cyberspace creates new challenges and opportunities
in terms of security, the digital economy, and human rights, we have to be
constantly evolving in our responses. And though they are distinct, they
are practically inseparable, because there isn't an economic internet, a
social internet, and a political internet. There is just the internet, and
we're here to protect what makes it great.
Tomorrow's sessions provide the opportunity for us to make concrete progress.
At this kickoff event, I'd like to briefly discuss three specific challenges
that defenders of the internet must confront.
The first challenge is for the private sector to embrace its role in protecting
internet freedom. Because whether you like it or not, the choices that private
companies make have an impact on how information flows or doesn't flow on
the internet and mobile networks. They also have an impact on what governments
can and can't do, and they have an impact on people on the ground.
In recent months, we've seen cases where companies, products, and services
were used as tools of oppression. Now, in some instances, this cannot be
foreseen, but in others, yes, it can. A few years ago, the headlines were
about companies turning over sensitive information about political dissidents.
Earlier this year, they were about a company shutting down the social networking
accounts of activists in the midst of a political debate. Today's news stories
are about companies selling the hardware and software of repression to
authoritarian governments. When companies sell surveillance equipment to
the security agency of Syria or Iran or, in past times, Qadhafi, there can
be no doubt it will be used to violate rights.
Now, there are some who would say that in order to compel good behavior by
businesses, responsible governments should simply impose broad sanctions,
and that will take care of the problem. Well, it's true that sanctions and
export controls are useful tools, and the United States makes vigorous use
of them when appropriate; and if they are broken, we investigate and pursue
violators. And we're always seeking to work with our partners, such as the
European Union, to make them as smart and effective as possible. Just last
week, for example, we were glad to see our EU partners impose new sanctions
on technology going to Syria.
So sanctions are part of the solution, but they are not the entire solution.
Dual-use technologies and third-party sales make it impossible to have a
sanctions regime that perfectly prevents bad actors from using technologies
in bad ways. Now, sometimes companies say to us at the State Department,
âJust tell us what to do, and we'll do it.â
But the fact is, you can't wait for instructions. In the 21st
century, smart companies have to act before they find themselves in the
crosshairs of controversy.
I wish there were, but there isn't, an easy formula for this. Making good
decisions about how and whether to do business in various parts of the world,
particularly where the laws are applied haphazardly or they are opaque, takes
critical thinking and deliberation and asking hard questions. So what kind
of business should you do in a country where it has a history of violating
internet freedom? Is there something you can do to prevent governments from
using your products to spy on their own citizens? Should you include warnings
to consumers? How will you handle requests for information from security
authorities when those requests come without a warrant? Are you working to
prevent post-purchase modifications of your products or resale through middlemen
to authoritarian regimes?
Now, these and others are difficult questions, but companies must ask them.
And the rest of us stand ready to work with you to find answers and to hold
those who ignore or dismiss or deny the importance of this issue accountable.
A range of resources emerged in recent years to help companies work through
these issues. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which
were adopted in June, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
both advise companies on how to meet responsibilities and carry out due
diligence. And the Global Network Initiative, which is represented here tonight,
is a growing forum where companies can work through challenges with other
industry partners, as well as academics, investors, and activists.
And of course, companies can always learn from users. The Silicon Valley
Human Rights Conference in October brought together companies, activists,
and experts to discuss real life problems and identify solutions. And some
participants issued what they called the Silicon Valley Standard for stakeholders
to aspire to.
Working through these difficult questions by corporate executives and board
members should help shape your practices. Part of the job of responsible
corporate management in the 21st century is doing human rights
due diligence on new markets, instituting internal review procedures, identifying
principles by which decisions are to be made in tough situations, because
we cannot let the short-term gains that all of us think are legitimate and
worth seeking jeopardize the openness of the internet and human rights of
individuals who use it without it coming back to haunt us all in the future.
Because a free and open internet is important not just to technology companies
but to all companies. Whether it's run with a single mobile phone or an extensive
corporate network, it's hard to find any business today that doesn't depend
in some way on the internet and doesn't suffer when networks are constrained.
And also I would add that, in this day, brand and reputation are precious
corporate assets. Companies that put them at risk when they are careless
about freedom of the internet can often pay a price.
So I think it's particularly appropriate and important that the private sector
is strongly represented at this meeting and that Google is co-hosting tonight's
event. In both securing the promise of a free and open internet and managing
the risks that new technologies raise, the private sector is a crucial partner.
But even as companies must step up, governments must resist the urge to clamp
down, and that is the second challenge we face. If we're not careful, governments
could upend the current internet governance framework in a quest to increase
their own control. Some governments use internet governance issues as a cover
for pushing an agenda that would justify restricting human rights online.
We must be wary of such agendas and united in our shared conviction that
human rights apply online.
So right now, in various international forums, some countries are working
to change how the internet is governed. They want to replace the current
multi-stakeholder approach, which includes governments, the private sector,
and citizens, and supports the free flow of information, in a single global
network. In its place, they aim to impose a system cemented in a global code
that expands control over internet resources, institutions, and content,
and centralizes that control in the hands of governments.
Now, in a way, that isn't surprising, because governments have never met
a voice or public sphere they didn't want to control at some point or another.
They want to control what gets printed in newspapers, who gets into universities,
what companies get oil contracts, what churches and NGOs get registered,
where citizens can gather, so why not the internet? But it's actually worse
than that. It's not just that they want governments to have all the control
by cutting out civil society and the private sector; they also want to empower
each individual government to make their own rules for the internet that
not only undermine human rights and the free flow of information but also
the interoperability of the network.
In effect, the governments pushing this agenda want to create national barriers
in cyberspace. This approach would be disastrous for internet freedom. More
government control will further constrict what people in repressive environments
can do online. It would also be disastrous for the internet as a whole, because
it would reduce the dynamism of the internet for everyone. Fragmenting the
global internet by erecting barriers around national internets would change
the landscape of cyberspace. In this scenario, the internet would contain
people in a series of digital bubbles, rather than connecting them in a global
network. Breaking the internet into pieces would give you echo chambers rather
than an innovative global marketplace of ideas.
The United States wants the internet to remain a space where economic, political,
and social exchanges flourish. To do that, we need to protect people who
exercise their rights online, and we also need to protect the internet itself
from plans that would undermine its fundamental characteristics.
Now, those who push these plans often do so in the name of security. And
let me be clear: The challenge of maintaining security and of combating cyber
crime, such as the theft of intellectual property, are real -- a point I
underscore whenever I discuss these issues. There are predators, terrorists,
traffickers on the internet, malign actors plotting cyber attacks, and they
all need to be stopped. We can do that by working together without compromising
the global network, its dynamism, or our principles.
Now, there's a lot to be said about cyber security. I won't go into that
tonight. I'll be talking about it more, but my basic point is that the United
States supports the public-private collaboration that now exists to manage
the technical evolution of the internet in real time. We support the principles
of multi-stakeholder internet governance developed by more than 30 (inaudible)
all over the world. So to use an American phrase, our position is, "If it
ain't broke, don't fix it." And there's no good reason to replace an effective
system with an oppressive one.
The third and final challenge is that all of us -- governments, private
(inaudible) -- building this global coalition is hard, partly because, for
people in many countries, the potential of the internet is still unrealized.
While it's easy for us in the United States or in the Netherlands (inaudible)
so we have to work harder to make the case that an open internet is and will
be in everyone's best interests. And (inaudible) we have to keep that in
mind as we work to build this global coalition and make the case to leaders
of those countries where the next generation of internet users live. These
leaders have an opportunity today to help ensure that the full benefits are
available to their people tomorrow, and in so doing, they will help us ensure
an open internet for everyone.
So the United States will be making the case for an open internet in our
work worldwide (inaudible) here tonight, Mongolia, (inaudible), Chile, also
represented, I saw, Indonesia and others, (inaudible) are sure to be effective
at bringing other potential partners on board who have (inaudible) perspectives
that can help us confront and answer difficult questions. And new players
from (inaudible) governments, the private sector, and civil society will
be participating in managing the internet in coming decades, as billions
more people from all different regions (inaudible) items on your agenda for
The first will be to build support for a new cross-regional group (inaudible)
that will work together in exactly the way that I've just discussed (inaudible)
based on shared principles, providing a platform (inaudible) for governments
to (inaudible) hope others here will do the same, and going (inaudible) forward,
others will endorse the declaration that our Dutch hosts (inaudible) have
prepared. It's excellent work, Uri, and we thank you for your leadership.
(Inaudible) who are threatened by their repressive governments. The (inaudible)
Committee to Protect Journalists recently reported that of all the writers,
editors, and photojournalists (inaudible) and I was pleased that the EU recently
announced new funding for that purpose. And I know that other governments,
including the Netherlands, are also looking for ways to help out.
By coordinating our efforts, we can make them go further and help more people.
Earlier, (inaudible) I heard what the foreign minister here is proposing.
And we have talked about creating a digital defenders partnership to be part
of this global effort. We hope tomorrow's meetings will give us a chance
to discuss with other potential partners how such a partnership could work.
So while we meet here in the Netherlands in this beautiful city to talk about
how to keep the internet (inaudible) walls between different activities online
(inaudible) economic exchanges, political discussions, religious expression,
social interaction, and so on. They want to keep what they like and which
doesn't threaten them and suppress what they don't. But there are opportunity
costs for trying to be open for business but closed for free expression
(inaudible) costs to a nation's education system (inaudible) political stability,
(inaudible) to maintain.
Our government (inaudible) will continue to work very hard to get around
every barrier that repressive governments put up. Because governments that
have erected barriers will eventually find themselves boxed in, and they
will (inaudible) keeping them standing by resorting to greater oppression,
and to (inaudible) escalating the opportunity cost of missing out on the
ideas that have been blocked (inaudible) and the people who have (inaudible)
I urge countries everywhere (inaudible) instead of that alternative, dark
vision, join us (inaudible). This is not a bet on computers or mobile phones.
It's a bet on the human spirit. It's a bet on people. And we're confident
that together, with our partners and government, the private sector, and
civil society around the world, who have made this same bet like all of you
here tonight, we will preserve the internet as open and secure for all.
On the eve of Human Rights Day, this meeting reminds us of the timeless
principles that should be our north star. And a look at the world around
us and the way it is changing reminds us there is no auto-pilot steering
us forward. We have to work in good faith and (inaudible) engage in honest
debate, and we have to join together to solve the challenges and seize the
opportunities of this exciting digital age. Thank you all for being committed