June 14, 2011
Internet Access as a Human Right: US Government Moves to Develop and Deploy "Shadow" Internet to Undermine Repressive Regimes
"[T]he Internet has become a key means by which individuals can exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," states Frank La Rue, a special rapporteur to the United Nations. Quoting from Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (May 16, 2011). "[A]ny restriction to the right to freedom of expression must meet the strict criteria under international human rights law."
From the UN Report:
The Special Rapporteur remains concerned that legitimate online expression is being criminalized in contravention of States' international human rights obligations, whether it is through the application of existing criminal laws to online expression, or through the creation of new laws specifically designed to criminalize expression on the Internet.
Such laws are often justified as being necessary to protect individuals' reputation, national security or to counter terrorism. However, in practice, they are frequently used to censor content that the Government and other powerful entities do not like or agree with.
"Shadow" Internet Initiative. James Glanz and John Markoff report that the Obama Administration led by State Department efforts "is leading a global effort to deploy 'shadow' Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks." Past government efforts included "development of software that preserves the anonymity of users in places like China, and training for citizens who want to pass information along the government-owned Internet without getting caught."
Glanz and Markoff report that "the latest initiative depends on creating entirely separate pathways for communication. It has brought together an improbable alliance of diplomats and military engineers, young programmers and dissidents from at least a dozen countries, many of whom variously describe the new approach as more audacious and clever and, yes, cooler." For much more see U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors (NYT, June 12, 2011). [JH]
I think US's this policy is not going to work for it.
Posted by: faxing online | Oct 7, 2011 6:36:39 PM
Although U.S. government "shadow" internet initiatives have the ability to promote free speech, it will be interesting to see the government's stance when the same technology is used by unintended beneficiaries to undermine intellectual property right laws through piracy of copyrighted materials.
One can make a strong argument that the human rights/free speech motives undermining the shadow initiatives outweigh the piracy costs. I doubt MPAA and RIAA would agree.
Regardless, there's a danger that "shadow" Internets will be used to plan and coordinate terrorist attacks. Does the Department of Homeland Security and its counterparts abroad have the technology to handle this threat? Remains to be seen.
Posted by: Mike Young, Esq. | Sep 11, 2011 6:13:34 PM