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Domestic reality does not match bold words on Internet free expression, says RSF

(RSF/IFEX) - 2 November 2011 - The US government has reiterated its commitment to online free speech several times since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in particular, affirmed US support for freedom of expression and opinion very clearly in a speech in Washington on January 21st, 2010.

Urging American companies to take a "principled stand" against online censorship, Clinton said defense of the Internet should be one of the cornerstones of US diplomacy. As the "birthplace" of so many online technologies, the United States had a "responsibility" to protect the Internet as a tool for economic and social development and promoting democracy, as well as a place for the free exchange of ideas. "We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas," Clinton added.

Since then, the United States has developed many tools that support online free expression such as "Shadow Internet" and parallel mobile phone systems that cyber-dissidents can use in countries to escape the censorship of authoritarian regimes. The US plans to invest 70 million dollars for this kind of project in 2011.

Nonetheless, although the US government has defended Iranian bloggers, Chinese activists and Arab Spring netizens, it has also been responsible for initiatives that have harmed online free speech and has displayed a hostile attitude to online activities. Reporters Without Borders has followed several cases that run counter to the US government's professed commitment to fundamental Internet freedoms.

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