Monday, January 25, 2010 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Sweden's Bildt: Tear Down These Virtual Walls

Lots of good things in The Washington Post today following up on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's historic address last week about the importance of global Internet freedom. First, The Post has published a powerful supporting statement from Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, entitled, "Tear Down These Virtual Walls." Bildt notes that:

Two decades ago a wall made of concrete, built to divide the free and unfree, was torn down. Today it is the freedom of cyberspace that is under threat from regimes as keen as dictatorships past to control and limit the possibilities of their citizens. They are trying to build firewalls against freedom. At the end of the day, I am convinced they are fighting a losing battle -- that cyber walls are as certain to fall as the walls of concrete once did.

He then goes on to argue that, following Secretary Clinton's address last week, "We should now forge a new transatlantic partnership for protecting and promoting the freedoms of cyberspace. Together, we should call for all these walls to be torn down." He continues:
Much like the way the rule of the law is critical to protecting the freedoms we enjoy as citizens in our societies, and international law protects the peace between our nations, we must seek to shape the rules that will protect the rights and the freedom of cyberspace.

Importantly, The Washington Post itself also editorialized today about "The Internet War."

The Post rightly noted that Sec. Clinton's speech was hugely important because she made it abundantly clear, as I noted here in my essay last week, that the U.S. will now make these issues part of future diplomatic negotiating efforts. As the Post argued:

Ms. Clinton made it admirably clear that abusers such as China will no longer get a free pass in U.S. public diplomacy or in international forums. ... Far better that the United States raise issues of Internet freedom, discrimination against U.S. companies and cyberwar stemming from China directly and openly with the Communist leadership than allow Beijing to poison and abuse the Internet without paying a price.

Finally, Post tech policy columnist Cecilia Kang has an interesting article on the Post Tech blog about how "Technologists Agree with Clinton, Say Internet Freedom Wins in Long Run." (I sure hope so!) She cites the always-interesting Clay Shirky, who argues that countries that have a censorship strategy "are suffering from a technological auto-immune disease... They are only delaying the spread of media and attacking their own infrastructure." Too true. Anyway, kudos to The Washington Post for rightly giving these important issues the coverage they deserve.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 1:17 PM | Free Speech , Internet Governance