U.S. Warns of Gov’ts Trying to Control the Internet

On April 8, 2011, Yahoo! News reported, in an article by Bradley Klapper of the Associated Press, that the Obama Administration, specifically the State Department, warned "that governments around the world are extending their repression to the Internet, seeking to cut off their citizen's access to websites and other means of communication to stave off the types of revolutions that have wracked the Middle East."

The State Department's annual human rights report, now at 7,000 pages, states that countries are "'spending more time, money and attention in efforts to curtail access to these new communications outlets.'"  Indeed, according to the report, more than 40 countries "are now blocking their citizen's access to the Internet, and [the various technologies employed] are all 'designed to repress speech and infringe on the personal privacy of those who use these rapidly evolving technologies.'"

In presenting the report, Secretary of State Clinton singled out Myanmar and Cuba, stating that these two countries have policies designed to keep almost their entire populations off the Internet.  Additionally, the report criticizes Saudi Arabia, the U.S.' largest ally in the Middle East, for "spying on e-mail and chat rooms, and blocking sites about religions such as Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity."

In response to the recent unrest across the Middle East, many governments around the world are reassessing how open they want to be with their Internet policies.  Michael Posner, Assisant Secretary of State for Human Rights said that the U.S. has responded by "helping to finance circumvention technologies to avoid firewalls . . . [t]o deal with governments hacking computers or intimidating dissenters, the U.S. government has trained 5,000 people from around the world on how to leave less of a trace on the Internet."



The entire news article from Yahoo! News can be found at the link provided above, or here.  The State Department's 2010 Report on Human Rights is available here, broken down by country.     


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