Magazine February 22, 2010, Issue

‘A Very Important Subject’

(Kacper Pempel/Reuters)
Internet freedom and a widespread restlessness

These are heady days for Internet freedom. In “nonconsensual so­cieties,” as Robert Conquest calls them, people are pushing limits; and the governments are pushing back. Our secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, gave a speech on Internet freedom toward the end of January. She said, “This is an important speech on a very important subject.” That’s an unusual thing for a speaker to say, but she was absolutely right. And she proceeded to give a ringing defense of Internet freedom.

Technology has long been double-edged: an aid to the oppressed and an aid to their oppressors. Clinton took note of this in

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