The cartoonist-blogger "Guaiguai" posted this photoshopped picture to express his feelings about Secretary Clinton's Internet freedom speech. He titled it: "Hillary leads the people."
It appears that quite a lot of people in China watched the live video stream. The links to the text, video, and an ad-hoc Chinese translation - published through Google Docs, no less - are also circulating widely.
Beijing is 12 hours ahead of Washignton and people are just getting up over there. Once more people have had time to read, watch and react, it will be interesting indeed to see what they have to say - and to what extent people's reactions get censored on Chinese domestic blog-hosting platforms, Baidu, etc.
On Twitter, blogger Lianyue offered his prediction for how the Chinese Foreign Ministry will respond: "1. The Chinese Internet is the freest of all. 2. Opinions not in agreement with #1 have violated Chinese national conditions and do not respect Chinese law, so we have the right to shut them down."
As for other reaction around the web, there is a statement from the Global Network Initiative - to which Clinton gave a shout-out.
Index on Censorship has a good quick round-up of reactions from Internet experts. In a thoughtful blog post my friend and Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman concluded:
it’s encouraging to see Clinton and the State Department unambiguously on the right side of these issues. It’s hard to know whether there’s any concrete implications to these words today beyond a worthy set of aspirations. Here’s hoping the next step is a conversation about how we would move from the right intentions to real-world outcomes, not just on censorship, but on the provocative idea of the “freedom to connect” and the vision of a “new nervous system for the planet.”David Weinberger, one of my other all-time favorite Internet gurus, posted his initial reaction:
It’s thrilling that a Secretary of State would claim “freedom to connect” as a basic human right. That’s a very bit [I think he meant "big"-RM] stake in the ground. Likewise, it’s sort of amazing that the State Department is funding the development of tools to help users circumvent government restrictions on access. On the negative side, it’s distressing (but not surprising) that the Secretary of State should be come against anonymity so we can track down copyright infringers. Of course, in response to a question she said that we have to strike a balance so that the anonymity of dissenters is protected even as the anonymity of file sharers is betrayed. I just don’t know how you do that.I too thought Clinton's speech was a very welcome - even exciting - commitment by the Obama administration to advance and protect a single, free and open Internet. But like David I agree the most difficult part going forward won't be supporting circumvention tools for dissidents in obviously un-free nations. As I've been saying in numerous articles, blog posts, interviews, and panels over the past week, I think the toughest work will be in coordinating U.S. domestic and foreign policies so that you don't have some policies advancing Internet freedom while other policies - especially on copyright, child protection, crime, and terror - end up sending a very different kind of message about American priorities. It's easy to criticize Iran and China for censorship but much trickier to work with Italy, France, and a wide range of other U.S. allies and close trade partners to ensure that policies and laws surrounding Internet regulation and governance don't end up being counterproductive, despite being well-intentioned in the short term.
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