Comment On Secretary Of State Clinton's Address On Global Internet Freedom

[Leahy, D-Vt., chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations.]

“I commend Secretary of State Clinton for reaffirming our nation’s deep commitment to openness and freedom of expression on the Internet.  The Internet has become a vital tool to protect and ensure the rights and basic freedoms of Americans and the human rights of people everywhere.  The Internet got its start here, and the world still looks to America for leadership on matters of Internet freedom.  We have a duty to maintain and continually renew our commitment to an Internet that is free to all of the world’s citizens.  The Obama administration today has taken a significant step toward fulfilling that solemn duty.

“In today’s Digital Age, the Internet is an unparalleled means for distributing information and holding governments accountable.  Unfortunately, its many virtues make the Internet a prime target of oppressive governments.  We continue to witness the efforts of such governments as China, North Korea and Iran, to censor, or entirely cut off, their citizens' access to online information.

“That is why I have worked hard to secure funding for programs that will help ensure that the Internet remains open and free for all of the world’s citizens.  For Fiscal Year 2010, the Congress provided $30 million to expand unmonitored, uncensored access to the Internet, including in China and Iran. This was a significant increase over the previous year, and it reflected a bipartisan recognition of the extraordinary power of the Internet as a tool to promote free speech and democracy in closed societies.

“I applaud the efforts of the Obama administration to combat Internet censorship and to encourage the free flow of information across the globe.”

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