Net Freedom, Secretary Clinton, and Tor
I attended the speech given by Secretary Clinton on Jan 21, 2010, http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/01/135519.htm. Most of it was a rehashing of what many of us already know and believe, but it's still good to hear the US Govt "gets it" and is trying to promote the openness on which the Internet has thrived. You can watch the full speech at http://netfreedom.state.gov. Interestingly, someone got to ask the anonymity question before me,
QUESTION: You talked about anonymity on line and how we have to prevent that. But you also talk about censorship by governments. And I’m struck by – having a veil of anonymity in certain situations is actually quite beneficial. So are you looking to strike a balance between that and this emphasis on censorship?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. I mean, this is one of the challenges we face. On the one hand, anonymity protects the exploitation of children. And on the other hand, anonymity protects the free expression of opposition to repressive governments. Anonymity allows the theft of intellectual property, but anonymity also permits people to come together in settings that gives them some basis for free expression without identifying themselves.
None of this will be easy. I think that’s a fair statement. I think, as I said, we all have varying needs and rights and responsibilities. But I think these overriding principles should be our guiding light. We should err on the side of openness and do everything possible to create that, recognizing, as with any rule or any statement of principle, there are going to be exceptions.
So how we go after this, I think, is now what we’re requesting many of you who are experts in this area to lend your help to us in doing. We need the guidance of technology experts. In my experience, most of them are younger than 40, but not all are younger than 40. And we need the companies that do this, and we need the dissident voices who have actually lived on the front lines so that we can try to work through the best way to make that balance you referred to.
It is good that she tries to balance the good versus evil, but believes that "we should err on the side of openness and do everything possible to create that". I also think she mixes anonymity, anonymous speech, and an open internet as if they were all one. We're happy to help clarify and explain how Tor and anonymity online can be beneficial.
I never did find the person who asked the question, he at least deserves a Tor sticker. ;)