Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Internet freedom is about multi-stakeholders - Clinton

Still in the euphoria of the bashing she received following the dust raised following the prohibition of the gay rights in Nigeria and some other African countries, the United States’ secretary of state, Mrs. Hillary Clinton has declared Internet freedom as all about multi-stakeholders.

Clinton gave this insight in her speech at the recently concluded Internet Freedom conference at The Hague in the Netherlands, calling for the respect of human rights both online and offline.

“I’m pleased we also have representatives from the private sector and civil society. So it all adds up to a multi-stakeholder event,” she declared.

She also noted the commemoration of the 2011 Human Rights Day last Saturday, December 10, which is the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thus making the forum a timely session.

According to her, 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,” she said, stressing that after all, the right to express one’s views, practice one’s faith, peacefully assemble with others to pursue political or social change; 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.

She enjoined stakeholders that since they worked together to secure these rights in the material world, “we must work together in this century to secure them in cyberspace.”

This, she said, is an urgent task before stakeholders describing it as most urgent, especially 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.

She cited an instance with the Syrian blogger, Mr. Anas Maarawi who was arrested on July 1, this year, after demanding that President Asad leave office, but government has not charged him with anything, but he remains in detention.

Clinton decried that in both Syria and Iran, many other online activists too many to mention, 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 elections,” she lamented.

In China, Mrs. Clinton further decried that several dozen companies recently signed a pledge in October, committing to strengthen their “self-management, self-restraint, and strict self-discipline.”

For her, if they (Chinese)  were talking about fiscal responsibility, everyone may agree, rather, 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.

These incidents globally, she said, remind others of their stake in this struggle, which does not belong only to those on the front lines and suffering presently, noting that it belongs to all citizens of the world.

She attributed this to the fact that first, every citizen of the world has a responsibility to support human rights and fundamental freedoms everywhere.

“Second, because the benefits of the network grow as the number of users grow,” she said, yet the internet is not exhaustible or competitive.

Mrs. Clinton pointed out her use of the internet does not diminish other users, explaining that on the contrary, the more people are online and contributing ideas, the more valuable the entire network becomes to all the other users.

This way, she said, all users, through the billions of individual choices made 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.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D


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