Down with Gatekeepers: Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration vs. Internet Freedom

Last year, in Hillary Clinton’s Historic Speech on Global Internet Freedom, Adam Thierer praised Hillary Clinton for a speech drawing

a bold line in the cyber-sand regarding exactly where the United States stands on global online freedom. Clinton’s answer was unequivocal: “Both the American people and nations that censor the Internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote Internet freedom.” “The Internet can serve as a great equalizer,” she argued. “By providing people with access to knowledge and potential markets, networks can create opportunities where none exist.”

But of course this is a complete sham. The fedgov and the Obama administration may not like it when other oppressive regimes restrict their own subjects’ access to technology, when this is contrary the American state’s geopolitical “interests,” but the cekatS1 is not at all in favor of Internet freedom. Witness the relentless push to keep increasing copyright law and its insidious effect on Internet freedom. Thus, Obama signed the horrible ACTA (probably unconstitutionally),2 and his administration is also: using other trade agreements to export the draconian DMCA-type copyright provisions to other countries;3 and has proposed to expand “tough” enforcement of copyright, including wiretaps4 and other legislation to curb “piracy” on the Internet.5 And it’s why

U.S. Copyright Czar and Obama administration officials secretly cooperate with Hollywood, recording industry and ISPs to disrupt internet access for users suspected of violating copyright law … Obama administration’s cozy relationship with Hollywood and the music industry’s lobbying arms and its early support for the copyright-violation crackdown system publicly announced in July.6

And it’s why we have the looming threat of SOPA,7 which endangers Internet freedom, which, as I’ve noted before, is one of the most important tools available in the fight against the state.8  And it’s why the cekatS wants to control and restrict it. And it’s doing so, cleverly if perversely, in the name of (intellectual) “property rights” and fighting “piracy”. And who can doubt Obama will sign SOPA if Congress puts it on his desk? (Even though Vice-Thug and IP Poobah Biden hypocritcally spoke out against SOPA type provisions recently.)

And it’s why the Obama administration has seized websites to censor Wikileaks. And ICE has seized hundreds of domains in the name of stopping piracy and at the behest of the MPAA, in addition to other ICE domain seizures in the name of stopping child pornography (“Operation Protect Our Children“–What do you mean “our,” kemosabe?).

No one can seriously think that the central state, or the Obama administration, is in favor of Internet freedom.

As for Hillary Clinton’s lies and claims to be for global Internet freedom despite being part of an administration hell bent on destroying it, her true views were revealed long ago, in 1998 in the wake of the Drudge Report breaking the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, in response to a question by reporters  Hillary Clinton was asked by reporters whether she favored curbs on the Internet. Her response:
We’re all going to have to rethink how we deal with the Internet. As exciting as these new developments are, there are a number of serious issues without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function9 And, as Thierer notes in his piece, Hillary Clinton also said “We are all going to have to rethink how we deal with [the Internet], because there are all these competing values. Without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function, what does it mean to have the right to defend your reputation?” Note here how IP (reputation rights are a type of IP) is once more at the root of the threat to the Internet (one reason I have concluded that copyright is even worse than patent). Of course the political elites–the real 1%–and the Big Media they are in cahoots with, hate the lack of the official “gatekeeper” function. They hate the Internet, social media, talk radio, podcasting, cell phones, twitter, and video cameras.

Update: see Democrats and “Internet Freedom”.

  1. Bill Stepp’s acronymous term for the state: cekatS = “criminal entity known as the State.” Other funny ones are “conjob” for Constitution, and “crookopolies” for monopolies. 

  2. ACTA, Executive Agreements, and the Bricker Amendment

  3. Free-trade pacts export U.S. copyright controls

  4. Copyright Enforcement, Now Featuring Wiretaps! 

  5. White House will propose new digital copyright laws

  6. Wired article, U.S. Copyright Czar Cozied Up to Content Industry, E-Mails Show

  7. Die, SOPA, Die

  8. The Ominous PROTECT IP Act and the End of Internet Freedom; Patent vs. Copyright: Which is Worse?; Internet Access as a Human Right

  9. Quoted in Government Gatekeepers Come After the Internet; see also No Gatekeepers; Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Understand The Constitution

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  • It’s not too late to contemplate the development of an internet that is independent of government and its agents in ways that ICANN, to give on example, prevents the Internet from being independent.

    There will be many challenges, of course, and just one of them will be to make sure that the network does not succumb to a petty craving for dependency upon proprietary standards. Enforcement of copyright and patent statutes are a clear hazard here. Another problem will be to ensure that proper functioning of the network, or network of networks, isn’t dependent upon a benevolent despot or clique of despots. Another problem will be transport, for all of the carriers are in bed with the government, partly as a result of regulations imposed on the pretext of protecting consumers. Why would they welcome the change when protected incumbents rarely do? In fact, when last I checked, there were parts of the world in which the carrier is the government. This brings us to the problem of developing interfaces between the new, independent internet and the telephone network. This will require not only hardware solutions but also development in software, including operating systems.

    Still more problems will come from getting people to adopt the new network in spite of prejudices against networking that is free of governmental parentalism. Some people will regard the transition as an unnecessary hassle. (IT managers and CIOs come to mind now.) There is the possibility that some hardware will have to be duplicated, in order to use both the old internet and the new internet simultaneously. I think that the most difficult challenge, however, will be to protect the infrastructure of routers, switches, communications lines, and other hardware from the looter class, esp. that portion of the looter class that has power to hide behind the law when carrying out its crimes. This will be extemely difficult in China, in Russia, in the America of the Republicans and the Democrats, and in other places where the ruling classes deny that even one’s own body is one’s own property.

    I could go on, but we can expect many benefits once the challenges have been overcome. Of course, the power of Columbia would be reduced, and there would be a greatly reduced risk of Publius’ government using the old internet as a tool of despotism. The mere existence of a credible alternative to Columbia’s internet might be enough to discourage politicians and bureaucrats from attempts to impose draconian controls on the old internet. What would be the point of trying to do so if the controls could be circumvented? In fact, even a credible threat of establishing an alternate internet could be enough to discourage the control freaks, the worst of which in America are not necessarily Democrats but, instead, may be Republicans and the pastors of vice squads.

    Another benefit is that innovation and investment in the independent internet will be less hampered, less discouraged, and less perverted by government meddling. Finally, the scientific and engineering challenges could stimulate new developments in computer science and telephony that have yet to be conceived in academia. In the early 1960s almost no one had heard of packet switching, for example, and it would be small minded to assume that no more such radical innovations are possible or that they can’t be made more likely by the necessity of developing an independent internet.