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Secy. Clinton Taking Heat for Hypocrisy on Internet Freedom

Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the Conference on Internet Freedom, in The Hague, Netherlands. (State Dept Image by Jos van Leeuwen)

Yesterday, Secy. Clinton gave a speech on Internet freedom at the Hague. Glenn Greenwald eviscerates Clinton, as well as the Obama administration today, with the criticism well earned.

The subject is important, because there’s quite a flurry of activity right now surrounding SOPA, with all you need to know at TechDirt.

In the Senate, both the New York Times and the LA Times came out against the Protect IP Act, so have entrepreneurs. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has been the champion against it, placing a hold on it.

The PROTECT IP Act Will Slow Start-up Innovation

McKinsey recently studied thirteen mature national economies and found that over the past five years, 21% of GDP growth can be directly attributed to the Internet. They found that 2.4 jobs were created for every job lost to Internet efficiencies. They also found that over the last fifteen years, an increase in Internet maturity is directly correlated to an average increase in real per capita GDP of $500. By contrast, it took 50 years to see that impact during the industrial revolution of the 19th century.

The Internet is good for the economy. It is also good for consumers. McKinsey found that Internet efficiencies put $64B back in U.S. consumer’s pockets in 2009. The full report is here.

So when considering legislation or regulation that would impact the basic structure of the Internet, we believe that legislators and regulators should be guided by a key tenet of the Hippocratic Oath “FIRST DO NO HARM”.

Clinton’s speech made her a target, because of the Administration’s history, which isn’t great. The State Dept. has a history of interesting choices when it comes to online communications as well.

Many of you may remember when I challenged the official blog of State, Dipnote, when they ignored the Green uprising in Iran, two years ago this month.

From Greenwald:

What Hillary Clinton is condemning here is exactly that which not only the administration in which she serves, but also she herself, has done in one of the most important Internet freedom cases of the last decade: WikiLeaks. And beyond that case, both Clinton specifically and the Obama administration generally have waged a multi-front war on Internet freedom.

… First, let us recall that many of WikiLeaks’ disclosures over the last 18 months have directly involved improprieties, bad acts and even illegalities on the part of Clinton’s own State Department. As part of WikiLeaks’ disclosures, she was caught ordering her diplomats at the U.N. to engage in extensive espionage on other diplomats and U.N. officials; in a classified memo, she demanded “forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communications” as well as “credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers and even frequent-flyer account numbers” for a whole slew of diplomats, actions previously condemned by the U.S. as illegal. WikiLeaks also revealed that the State Department – very early on in the Obama administration – oversaw a joint effort between its diplomats and GOP officials to pressure and coerce Spain to block independent judicial investigations into the torture policies of Bush officials: a direct violation of then-candidate Obama’s pledge to allow investigations to proceed as well being at odds with the White House’s dismissal of questions about the Spanish investigation as merely “hypothetical.” WikiLeaks disclosures also revealed that public denials from Clinton’s State Department about the U.S. role in Yemen were at best deeply misleading. And, of course, those disclosures revealed a litany of other truly bad acts by the U.S. Government generally.

One headline read like this: U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet.

The Obama administration has attacked email privacy:

In a brief filed Tuesday afternoon, the coalition says a search warrant signed by a judge is necessary before the FBI or other police agencies can read the contents of Yahoo Mail messages–a position that puts those companies directly at odds with the Obama administration.

Regarding the Wikileaks diplomatic dump, did you know that wannabe diplomats are being warned off commenting on the cables? According to a report by the New York times, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a hub for future diplomats, got a missive from the State Dept. warning students that if they ever hope to work at State they should “avoid posting comments online about the leaked diplomatic cables.”

From: “Office of Career Services”

Date: November 30, 2010 15:26:53 EST:

Hi students,

We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance.

The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.

Regards,
Office of Career Services

A grand jury was opened last May to investigate the leaking of these documents as well.

You may also remember that last January, the U.S. subpoenaed Twitter in order to gain access to the accounts of people associated with Wikileaks.

The White House warned federal employees that if they dare to even read the Wikileak documents they’re breaking the law.

The White House Office of Management and Budget blasted out a memo that if you looked at the cables on your BlackBerry you were breaking the law.

The structure for the creeping security state was laid after 9/11 during the Bush administration. There is a lot of evidence that the Obama administration and politicians are using what happened in the last decade to further encroach on the privacy of Americans, but also on tech entrepreneurs, which could end up having a chilling impact on us all.

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