State Department Forms Net Freedom Force

    February 15, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The Global Internet Freedom Task Force formed by the US State Department will focus on forming a foreign policy response to governmental threats to Internet freedom.

The State Department announced its new task force in Washington DC, a day ahead of House Subcommittee hearings on search engine company practices in China.

A pair of Under Secretaries of State disclosed the new initiative to journalists yesterday. Under Secretary Josette Shiner talked about the focus of the newly formed task force:

The task force will consider the foreign policy aspects of internet freedom, including the use of technology to restrict access to political content and the impact of such censorship on U.S. companies, the use of technology to track and repress dissidents, efforts to modify internet governance structures in order to restrict the free flow of information. The task force will look to ensure that our concerns are being raised at all levels with governments and international organizations.

We will also work with our companies and NGOs to help address their concerns in meeting this challenge.

Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky cited how the “business sector” can help address countries that repress the free flow of information online:

And as part of our ongoing corporate social responsibility efforts, we will continue to reach out to the business sector. We are open to innovative ways that we, the United States Government, and the private sector can harness the influence we each bring to the table to promote our shared objectives.

Many technology companies share a strong commitment to be socially proactive and want to work to help those who lack the freedom we often take for granted. If we band together, we can make significant progress on this issue.

Dobriansky also noted the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, Labor, Barry Lowenkron is in China raising the same issue with that government.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.