Take a few minutes (ok, maybe about 30). Read this transcript of Hillary Clinton’s presentation on internet freedom. Leave the politics out of it. It is, I think, an important speech that has the prospect of serving as a touch point for advancing the freedom online discussion – delivered by a senior government official who recognizes that the internet is more than an add on to our daily lives. It has become a “new nervous system for our planet”. The speech is at times practical, touching, and idealistic. But mostly it raises the importance of theoretical discussions of democracy, rights, and freedoms in a networked age.
The final freedom I want to address today flows from the four I’ve already mentioned: the freedom to connect – the idea that governments should not prevent people from connecting to the internet, to websites, or to each other. The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyber space. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate in the name of progress. Once you’re on the internet, you don’t need to be a tycoon or a rock star to have a huge impact on society.