February 15, 2011

ACLU Urges Government To Protect Internet Freedom At Home

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The New York Times reported today that the Secretary of State will announce a new policy on Internet freedom, emphasizing the importance of Internet access to those living under oppressive regimes. The announcement comes as the House holds hearings this week on “net neutrality” principles that would protect free speech online in the U.S.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU Center for Democracy:

“The State Department is right that technology can be a force for democratic change, and the last few weeks have provided new evidence of that. The Internet can help individuals communicate, organize, advocate and debate – all of which are necessary to democracy. There is a jarring disconnect, though, between the administration's pro-privacy policies abroad and its pro-surveillance policies at home. Americans deserve the same privacy protections that the State Department is eager to secure for people overseas. We commend the administration for its ambition to expand free speech abroad, but an administration truly committed to democratic freedom should not turn a blind eye to the hypertrophic expansion of government surveillance inside the United States.”

The following can be attributed to Chris Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“Congress must keep in mind that freedom of speech on the Internet is just as vital at home as it is abroad. As Congress this week considers principles that might hinder the free exchange of ideas and data, we hope that the principle of free expression as an essential component of democracy is upheld.”

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