It is always awesome to be included in a list. It is especially nice to meet smart and savvy people, and yes, it is even great for the ego.
But yesterday I was listening to NPR and State Department Senior Adviser for Innovation Alec Ross, talking about Secretary Hillary Clinton’s speech about the balance between Internet freedom and internet security when he mentioned (a little off topic) that women in the middle east are facing honor killings for participating in social media. Indeed, one Saudi woman was beaten and shot for chatting on Facebook.
If I had been included on Lee’s list and lived in a reasonably repressive government, or had a repressive husband, it might have landed me in jail, or worse.
Certainly there have been a rash of reports about censorship and oppression and Secretary Clinton’s speech addressed a lot of these:
- The persecution of a Saudi Christian blogger
- The detention of bloggers in Vietnam
- The Egyptian campaign against bloggers
- Widespread Internet censorship by countries like China and Iran
- Cyberattacks, like the one on Google, to extract information for political purposes
And many more…
Clinton mentioned the State Department’s Civil Society 2.0 initiatives that also includes software and solutions to get around these censorship barriers and calls for software engineers and geeks everywhere to help the State Department get the “bad guys” and help the everyday world citizen.
She calls this new focus 21st Century Statecraft, or Foreign Policy in Cyberspace. Her speech left me with a lot to chew on. But it also left me wondering what to do.
It is so easy to get complacent about all of this and think that we have no role to play in making the world a more civil place. But it is true that the Internet is one of the only truly global places, and it is replete with the same great human spirit and dark corners.
What do you think? How can we as global cybercitizens support those whose voices are silenced?