Thursday, January 21, 2010

Clinton on censorship and Google/China - lessons for net neutrality?

As the Google-China thing rumbles on, and we ignore China's claims that it co-regulates via ISPs to stamp down on porn, hate speech, religious extremists and security breaches, Hillary Clinton has weighed in with a speech asking why the rest of the world can't be more First Amendment friendly, conflating commercial with political censorship. '"Countries that censor news and information must recognize that, from an economic standpoint, there is no distinction between censoring political speech and commercial speech. If businesses in your nation are denied access to either type of information, it will inevitably reduce growth. Increasingly, U.S. companies are making the issue of information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions. I hope that their competitors and foreign governments will pay close attention to this trend."
National sovereignty has some role to play, surely, on the Internet - after all, the US with its traditional hypocrisy hounded offshore gambling firms and recently jailed a foreign executive who just happened to be swinging through the US in transit (and of course hosts much spam and kiddie porn that plagues users). Much as we might agree with her preaching, if not US practice, does this mean net neutrality becomes a foreign policy issue for USTR, as suggested by Andrew McLaughlin? No, thought not, empty gesture politics so far!
It'll be good to see the European Commission hammer the US in front of the WTO on its disgraceful illegal activities in trying to persecute offshore gambling - if the EC has got the stones to carry through an obvious case.

1 comment:

Max H. said...

"...does this mean net neutrality becomes a foreign policy issue for USTR, as suggested by Andrew McLaughlin?"

Perhaps not, but the purely economic implications of an increasingly important bilateral trade flow (IP traffic), the balance of which is (has been for a decade-plus) absolutely dictated by the unilateral behavior (i.e., filtering policies) of one trading party may ultimately put the issue on the USTR agenda anyway... See proceedings of the 2003 UC Berkeley "China's Digital Future" and Georgetown Univ. "China Telecom 2003" conferences for early discussions of this possibility...