"An electronic curtain has fallen around Iran," U.S. President Barack Obama warned in a recent video message marking the Persian New Year. Government censorship and surveillance, he said, make it more difficult for Iranians to "access the information that they want," denying "the rest of the world the benefit of interacting with the Iranian people."
Implied though not explicit in Obama's remarks was the idea that if Iran's Internet were freer and more open, Iran's relationship with the world generally -- and the United States in particular -- would be different. Cases like Iran are the main driver of Washington's bipartisan consensus around the idea that a free and open global Internet is in the United States' strategic interest.
Yet more than two years after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her first speech declaring "Internet freedom" to be a major component of U.S. foreign policy, it turns out that many of the most sophisticated tools used to suppress online free speech and dissent around the world are actually Made in the USA. American corporations are major suppliers of software and hardware used by all sorts of governments to carry out censorship and surveillance -- and not just dictatorships. Inconveniently, governments around the democratic world are pushing to expand their own censorship and surveillance powers as they struggle to address genuine problems related to cybercrime, cyberwar, child protection, and intellectual property.
The Internet turned 30 earlier this month. On Jan. 1, 1983, engineers launched the basic protocol for sharing bits between computers, setting in motion the networked world we live in today.
It’s during anniversaries like these that we have a chance to take stock of this remarkable network and the people who make it what it is.
As the Internet enters its middle years, we users can no longer take it for granted. It’s more than a cloud. It’s people, technology and physical infrastructure. As with any infrastructure, the Internet needs protection and maintenance to survive; otherwise the wires and signals that send digital communications will cease to function. The online community also needs protections — to prevent our ideas from being blocked, our identities from being hijacked and our wallets from being picked.
Behind the quiet leadership of people like Aaron Swartz, millions of Internet users rose up en masse last January to protect these rights and stop two Internet-crippling copyright bills. Swartz committed suicide on Jan. 11 after being hounded for two years by U.S. prosecutors who sought a harsh prison term. Swartz allegedly downloaded millions of academic articles from a protected database.
Swartz, who was only 26 at the time of his death, was at the forefront of the struggle for open networks where knowledge is freely available to anyone who seeks it. It’s part of a global Internet freedom movement built around a set of ideals, many of which are within our grasp in the U.S.
“Internet freedom” refers to every user’s right to connect openly with anyone and speak freely. Those who don’t think this right is under threat in America need only look at Verizon’s 2012 claim that the First Amendment gives it the authority to edit the Internet, entitled to pick and choose what content travels across its wires and what content does not.
“This is a highly informative book, perhaps the best published on the substance of WikiLeaks, its technology, philosophy, origin and purpose, rooted in the Cypherpunks resistance to authority through encryption and anonymizing technology. The trenchant and salient, wide-ranging discussion among Assange, Appelbaum, Müller-Maguhn and Zimmermann, is derived from a four-part RT series with additional editorial material and a summarizing prologue by Assange, “A Call to Cryptographic Arms.”
Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee collectively patted themselves, and their nation, on the back at a hearing on Tuesday entitled, “Fighting for Freedom: Dubai and Beyond.”
Our notions are grounded in freedom, said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. Indeed, said Rep. Poe, “freedom is what we do in this country.” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., also echoed the flag-waving spirit in saying that a universal commitment to upholding free speech was “one of many things that unite Democrats and Republicans.”
The hearing focused on the United States’ choice to align with 53 other countries, including Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and India, against other country’s proposals put forward at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in the United Arab Emirates in mid-December 2012. The event was the subject of the November 2012 Broadband Breakfast Club.
The WCIT conference had been held to examine proposed changes to the International Telecommunications Regulations first adopted in 1988. The 1988 regulations were initially implemented by the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Telecommunications Union to address to the changing world of international communications, namely, telephone systems.
According to a memorandum distributed for the hearing, the 1988 regulations were “conceived in an era when most countries still had monopoly, government owned telephone providers.” These regulations did not relate to any projected internet usage, an option that was not yet on the global horizon.
La guerra invisible por el control de Internet y el futuro de nuestra sociedad son algunos de los temas que abordará el nuevo libro del fundador de WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, una obra basada en uno de los episodios del programa exclusivo de RT...
The United States Department of Justice is under increasing scrutiny over its unwavering determination to prosecute internet journalists and activists, especially those who challenge what appears to be the abuse of power by corporations and the government.
Those accused of the alleged crimes - described by many as trivial - face years in prison and relentless pursuit by the authorities.
The latest example involves the sentencing of 26-year-old online activist Andrew Auernheimer to three-and-a-half years in prison for obtaining the personal data of thousands of AT&T's customers.
But his supporters argue that he was exposing a flaw in the firm's security system that had already endangered the personal information of customers, and that he did no actual "hacking" himself.
Then there is the pending prosecution of journalist Barrett Brown who has been in jail for six months and potentially faces decades in prison.
Brown's supporters say it was his work investigating the largely secret relationships and tactics of security contractors, corporations and the government that led to President Barack Obama's DOJ targeting him for prosecution.
Campaigners say the DOJ and US Attorney General Eric Holder have not learned the lessons of the suicide of another internet activist, Aaron Swartz, in January this year.
Earlier this month, Holder defended the Justice Department's handling of the Swartz case, facing members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Swartz's family has said his death was "the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach".
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was implemented in 1984. Its aim is to protect federally sensitive information that could potentially be used to cause injury to the United States.
The CFAA makes it a federal crime to "access a computer without authorization or exceed authorized access".
And this phrase is where much of the debate is centered - critics say no one really knows what these words mean and its vagueness gives prosecutors the power excessively charge violators.
Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren has introduced a CFAA reform bill. She called it "Aaron's Law" - after the online activist Swartz.
Click headline to read more and watch video news segment--
La ex-secretaria de Estado norteamericana, Hillary Clinton, apostó por la existencia de un Internet "libre, abierto y seguro" y advierte contra los riesgos de restringir su acceso. El de hoy es el segundo gran discurso de la secretaria de Estado sobre el tema, después de que el año pasado hiciera de la libertad de la red una de sus máximas prioridades de trabajo. Las palabras de Clinton en la Universidad George Washington llegaban poco después de que el presidente de EEUU Barack Obama declarase que vivimos en una era "en que la gente no sólo se comunica a través de información centralizada por el gobierno o la televisión estatal si no que puede tener un teléfono móvil con acceso a Internet y una cuenta de twitter que acaba por movilizar a cientos de miles de personas".
La nueva diplomacia del siglo XXI está en marcha, como han probado los acontecimientos de las últimas semanas en el norte de África. "Internet da voz a las aspiraciones de los pueblos, como han dejado claro los casos de Túnez, Egipto o Irán", ha dicho Clinton. "Pero lo que ha sucedido en Egipto e Irán va mucho más allá de Internet". "En cada caso, la gente protestaba por sentir una enorme frustración con las condiciones políticas y económicas con las que vive. Se manifestaron y las autoridades los detuvieron. Pero Internet no hizo ninguna de esas cosas. La gente las hizo".
La ex-jefa de la diplomacia estadounidense ha hecho un breve repaso a los lugares en los que el acceso a Internet es imposible o está limitado.Desde China hasta Cuba pasando por Vietnam y concluyendo con Irán, donde el intento de los ciudadanos de protestar contra unas elecciones amañadas acabó en sangre hace año y medio, Clinton ha enumerado los retos y desafíos a los que se enfrenta la red, como la libertad frente a la seguridad, la protección de la libertad de expresión a la vez que se garantiza la tolerancia y el civismo o la transparencia frente a la confidencialidad.
"La confidencialidad de los Gobiernos ha sido un tema de debate en los últimos meses debido a Wikileaks", ha dicho Clinton. En su opinión, ese ha sido un debate falso. "Fundamentalmente, el incidente de Wikileaks comenzó con un robo. Documentos que pertenecían al Gobierno fueron robados, de la misma manera que si hubiesen sido introducidos en un maletín", asegura Clinton. "Quiero que algo quede muy claro: el hecho de que Wikileaks usara Internet no es la razón por la que lo criticamos. Wikileaks no pone en duda nuestro compromiso con la libertad en Internet".
Cerca de 2.000 millones de personas están conectadas a la red en la actualidad, casi una tercera parte de la humanidad. "Internet se ha convertido en 'el' espacio público del siglo XXI", ha declarado Clinton. "Todos damos forma y nos formamos a través de lo que sucede en la red". "2.000 millones que no paran de crecer".
Internet sigue siendo tanto o más importante en la agenda de trabajo de Clinton como lo era hace un año. Hoy ha anunciado el nombramiento de Christopher Painter como el coordinador de una oficina de nueva creación dedicada a los asuntos del Ciberespacio. "Estamos convencidos de que un Internet libre lleva a la paz, el progreso y la prosperidad", ha puntualizado Clinton. "Lo contrario también es verdad", ha concluido la ex-secretaria de Estado.
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