United States Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton made a statement today discouraging Internet service equipment distributors and software companies from selling products to tyrannical governments like Iran and Syria, considering that these governments would simply use the technologies to further restrict human rights.
She’s telling Internet and software companies what they should sell to Iran, but the United States also uses software and tech equipment to have a peek at people’s activities online. Clinton does have a point, however. Companies should do as much as they can to promote freedom, not aid in restricting it, and she made this message clear today in an international conference for freedoms on the Internet hosted in the Netherlands and co-hosted by Google.
“It is most urgent, of course, 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. When companies sell surveillance equipment to the security agency of Syria, or Iran, or, in past times, (former Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi, there can be no doubt it will be used to violate rights,” she said.
The countries most accused of violating rights inside of the conference were Syria, Russia, Iran, Tunisia, and Egypt. There is still no word on how they plan to restrict a company’s right to sell to a government designated a tyranny.
Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt commented, “We are joined in a sprit to fight people who want to shut down free speech. It makes easy sense for a government to say: ‘We don’t like that. We’re going to curtail them. We’re going to shut it down. We’re going to censor it.”
He later mentioned that the conference was organized to “make the point that this is not right.”
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