Internet Freedom as an International Policy?

by Vicky · 1 comment

Even though the article of Shirky Clay is almost from 5 years ago, most of the elements are still valuable and some can be compared with the actual Internet Freedom situation.
Shirky explains that social media has real potential to produce changes but not instantly, even though better known for its coordination of impressive mass movement, it will need years and decades to support transformation by civil society and public sphere. This is why Shirky argues that the US government should continue to support Internet freedom as an objective in itself and not as a political tool, to influence specific country issue.
Social media can be an efficient tool in supporting coordination of people to create mass movements towards collective actions. Several examples have demonstrated the impact of “the text messaging generation” and have attracted attention worldwide by their impressive rapid gathering to request changes, which has sometimes resulted in political turnover, while some others lead to violent crackdown.
I would like to come back to the opinion of Shirky about US Internet policy. In 2010, Hillary Clinton, at that time US secretary of state, committed to work with the companies networking the world and to support Internet freedom worldwide as a policy priority. In an article in January 2010, she considered internet access as key to America’s promotion of democracy abroad (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/jan/21/hillary-clinton-internet-censorship-google). Hopes and expectations followed. A year later, her speech was regarded as “shades of hypocrisy on internet freedom”, because after criticising the firewall approach, the WikiLeaks affair made it “harder to moralise” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/feb/15/hillary-clinton-internet-freedom). Is Internet Freedom still a priority as a democratic tool?

{ 1 comment }

Nina October 29, 2015 at 4:38 am

interesting post! Internet freedom should be a priority. But unfortunately we see more and more examples of political leaders that are afraid of the opposition growing fast on the internet. In Cambodia a guy was recently arrested for comments he made about the current government. Internet freedom should be made a separate requirement for deomcracy, just like freedom of press is.

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