US secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Thursday for unfettered access to the Internet around the globe after several incidents of online censorship and cyber attacks have presented new questions for the role of technology in diplomacy.
“We need to create a world in which access to networks and information brings people closer together and expands our definition of community,” she said.
Clinton said cyber attacks, a form of censorship by some governments, should be punished.
“Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation,” she said. “By reinforcing that message, we can create norms of behaviour among states and encourage respect for the global networked commons.”
Clinton’s remarks were made in a speech at the Newseum in Washington and have been planned for weeks. The issue was highlighted after Google’s announcement last week that it might withdraw from China after an alleged cyber attack aimed at gathering information from the e-mail accounts of human rights activists.
She reiterated a call to the Chinese government to review the allegations.
“We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the cyber intrusions ... We also look for that investigation and its results to be transparent,” Clinton said.
China on Friday said US call for Internet freedom were “harmful” to bilateral ties. “We firmly oppose such words and deeds which go against the facts and are harmful to China-US relations,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted on his ministry’s website.
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