Strong opinions, weakly held

Hillary Clinton on Internet Freedom

Because amid this unprecedented surge in connectivity, we must also recognize that these technologies are not an unmitigated blessing. These tools are also being exploited to undermine human progress and political rights. Just as steel can be used to build hospitals or machine guns, or nuclear power can either energize a city or destroy it, modern information networks and the technologies they support can be harnessed for good or for ill. The same networks that help organize movements for freedom also enable al-Qaida to spew hatred and incite violence against the innocent. And technologies with the potential to open up access to government and promote transparency can also be hijacked by governments to crush dissent and deny human rights.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Remarks on Internet Freedom. This speech is worth reading in its entirety, as it’s the Obama administration laying out something approaching an Internet doctrine.


  1. Pretty lousy actually. Read a good critique of the overall lack of clue here


  2. Apropos of that critique, one of the first questions she was asked from the audience was about the conflict between her treatment of “good anonymity” and “bad anonymity” in her speech. I noticed that as well.

    There were things I agreed with in the speech and things I didn’t agree with, and things in that critique that I agree with and don’t agree with. In any case, I still think it was an important speech.

  3. It is leaps and bounds ahead of anything we heard from the previous administration. But I read it as a beginning, and far from any sort of refined policy doctrine. Interestingly, the piece you quoted is one of the several bits that actually felt off to me — I always have trouble with “doot-doo-doo tech is neutral, it’s all in what we do with it” attitudes (see Lessig’s Code and much more for rebuttals). But, again, unlike the previous administration, I thought this was a real step forward and do think there’s potential for learning (on State’s and the rest of the administration’s part) to be done.

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