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Clinton demands net freedom for all... 'cept Wikileaks

Who said anything about China?

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Hillary Clinton will bang the drum for internet access as a human right today when she outlines the US vision for the net in the wake of recent political turmoil in the middle east, and its own savaging in the wake of the Wikileaks disclosures.

The US Secretary of State will claim that the debate about whether the internet lends itself to repression or liberation is "largely beside the point", according to excerpts quoted by Reuters.

She will say that "what matters is what people who go online do there, and what principles guide us as we come together in cyberspace".

Thus Clinton will "reaffirm US support for a free and open internet and underscore the importance of safeguarding both liberty and security, transparency and confidentiality, and freedom of expression and tolerance".

At the same time, she will say that while the US commitment to civil liberties and human rights continues onto the internet, so does "its allegiance to the rule of law".

And that means so should everyone else adhere to the US's views of confidentiality, especially when it comes to having its diplomatic cables splattered around by the likes of Wikileaks: and if that means the US government indulging in some extra-territorial action to keep those cables clamped, well, so be it.

Still, says Clinton: "History has shown us that repression often sows the seeds for revolution down the road. Those who clamp down on Internet freedom may be able to hold back the full impact of their people's yearnings for a while, but not forever."

Clinton's comments come as social networking and people power collide again in Iran. Whereas the recently despatched Egyptian regime was a friend of Washington, Iran is not. As an apparent wave of web-inspired dissent has swept large chunks of the middle east, the US has been accused of being completely overtaken by events.

That impression could be further enhanced by the fact that a year ago Clinton used another speech on internet freedom to lambast China over alleged hacking of key western businesses and online repression.

Funnily at the time, she didn't mention Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, etc. ®

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