US Official: Current Laws Protect Human Rights Online

Posted in: Government & Policy at 18/01/2012 18:56

New international laws are not needed to protect human rights online, even as they are increasingly under attack, a top State Department official said on Tuesday.

Kicking off the annual State of the Net Conference, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner said governments should not feel entitled to repress human rights.

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Internet Freedom and the Digital Earthquake of 2011 by Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - Remarks to the State of the Net Conference
Thank you for inviting me. Actually, the truth is that I invited myself because I care so much about these issues. And Jerry Berman and Tim Lordan of the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee were gracious to allow me to speak with you.

I am here to speak about Internet freedom as a foundation for the 21st Century human rights agenda. It is a pleasure to be joined by Christine Varney, a lawyer's lawyer who is much missed inside the Obama administration. And I see here in the audience a large number of friends from Congress, from corporations and from NGOs who have all helped to map out smart and principled Internet policies for our government. They have also helped shape policies for socially responsible companies to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms online. Together, we aim to preserve the promise of the Internet as we know it, and as Gary said, in the face of growing threats to the freedom and integrity of the global network.

This past year has highlighted the promise and the peril of the Internet as a transformative tool both for human expression and for repression. So I would like to look back at the lessons learned from the digital earthquake of 2011, and offer a few thoughts on the way forward.

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