Google D.C. Talks: Democracy Online - Can the Internet Bring Change?

Uploaded by googlepublicpolicy on 05.04.2010

CHAVEZ: Hi, good afternoon everybody. My name is Pablo Chavez. I am a Policy Counsel here
in the DC office. I head up our Federal Policy Shop here in DC. And first of all, it's a
great pleasure to welcome you to our talk today. For a couple of years now, we have
had these Google DC Talks which are open to the public. They're available on YouTube.
You know, feature policy makers, authors, academics, and others to discuss and debate
a broad set of tech policy issues. For example we've recently hosted talks and copyright
policy on Cloud Computing on Green Energy and other topics. Today's talk is co-sponsored
by Freedom House and we really appreciate the co-sponsorship as well as all the work
that Freedom House does in support of online Free Expression. I feel like--can you guys
hear me okay? >> Sure.
>> CHAVEZ: We plan to have today's talk on democracy in the Internet before Google's
announcement earlier this week that we've stopped censoring search in China. And as
you all probably know by now in January, we disclosed a CyberTax on our infrastructure
and that of several other companies. As well as the separate set of attacks on the computers
of Human Rights Activist connected with China. We also announced Google's decision at the
time to no longer censor our search engine in China This past Monday, we
made good on that decision and that promised by starting to provide uncensored search,
that's now available on I'm sure many of you are expressing on Google's
situation in China which we've talked a lot about recently. But we're going to focus today's
talk on the bigger picture of global Internet freedom and the relationship between democracy
and democratization in the Internet. And in fact, issues of online Free Expression really
expand every continent. In Google's case, we see on a daily basis are tools used to
promote Free Expression and political participation, really around the world. And it's, you know,
it's funny. It's easy sometimes to dismiss, you know, and take for granted the fact that
everybody's blogging, you know, posting videos, Tweeting, Buzzing, Facebook status, updates,
et cetera. But if you step back for a second and you've realized just how robust all this
online communication, and this is really kind of staggering in for those of you who were
kind of around and cohere at the turn of the century. So it's like--actually, it seems
like the most of you, you know, you just realized what a revolutionary change this has all been.
But we've also really noticed a disturbing trend which is a trend towards censorship
of the Internet. We've seen the positive role of technology in the various revolutions--democratic
revolutions that we've seen off many, many colors and many, many types; the Saffron Revolution,
the Orange Revolution, the Green Revolution in Iran. But in many of these cases, the Free
Expression was actually coupled with censorship. And it was coupled with Internet surveillance
by the government. In Burma's case with the Saffron Revolution, we saw an outright blocking
of Internet access within the country. In the Iranian case, we saw the blockage of services
like Twitter, like YouTube as well as reports of surveillance by the government. And just
to give you a stronger sense of how serious and how widespread this issue is, reports
indicate that about 40 countries right now are censoring the Internet. In Google's case
alone, about 25 countries have actually censored our services. And really we're not alone.
I was reading a report recently that Facebook, for example, was blocked in Vietnam. So it's
really--this is a widespread phenomenon. Turning to our panel, our panel today is really deeply
engaged in these issues and we're really honored to have all of you with us today. Two housekeeping
notes before we get started, though. We're going to be Tweeting the event using the DC
Talks Hashtag which--there it is. And right after the panel, we're actually hosting a
Happy Hour right around the corner. So hopefully, you all will join us for that. So now on to
the panel, in terms of format, what I'll do is I'll introduce each of the panelists. Then
we'll move to brief opening remarks, followed by questions from me and from the audience,
including some from the moderator. Let me just state the obvious which is--this is a
really awesome panel. I'm sorry for keep sucking up to you guys. I should not be sitting next
to you. But really what we've brought together is a range of points of view and experience
from academia to civil society. It's a really on the ground journalism and advocacy. So
really, we're very, very happy to have you guys here and really honored to have you here.
Let me start with Larry Diamond. Larry is the Director of the Center on Democracy Development
and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. He's also a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover
Institution and the founding Co-Editor of the Journal of Democracy. Larry is also a
tremendous friend. He's a close friend too and mentor of my wife, Rebecca, who's actually
in the audience, right? So, it's a real pleasure to have you here, Larry. We're also joined
this afternoon by Daniel Calingaert who oversees Freedom Houses, a tremendous range of civil
society and media programs. In addition to his work at Freedom House, he's also a Professorial
Lecturer at the American University where he teaches courses on democracy. And finally,
we have Omid Memarian, who's a journalist and a blogger. And I could go on about Omid,
read a lot about you. This is actually the first opportunity I've had to meet you in
person. But, you know, among his many accomplishments. In 2005, he received the Human Rights Watch's
highest honor, which is the Human Rights Defender Award for his truly courageous work as a Human
Rights activist. And Omid thank you so much for joining our panel. So, let's turn it over
to, to Larry. And we'll start with you. >> DIAMOND: Okay. Pablo, thank you very much
for hosting us. I'd also like to begin by congratulating Google for in effect withdrawing
from the 2010 China Internet Self-Discipline Award competition which is awarded on an annual
basis. It's not an award that I would recommend that any company try to win but you can imagine
who does each year. Namely, you're competitor that originates in China. A few points just
to get us started. First of all, you know, you're going to hear--you are hearing in this
debate, you will hear to some extent here. You won't hear of it as much as probably you
should because the real advocates of the techno-pessimism view like of getting more as of they're not
here today, at least not here on the stage. Hopefully, they're in the audience and we
can have a serious debate. But there's supposedly a running argument between techno-Utopians
and techno-pessimists about what the impact of this technology is going to be. I will
tell you that I am an optimist, I'm not just a techno-optimist, I'm an optimist. I think
our own President Barack Obama put it best when he said, in essence, that history doesn't
move in a straight line and it's never an easy struggle to achieve important goals.
But in the long run, the arc of history bends toward justice. I think the arc of history
clearly bends toward freedom. And, you know, there has been a downturn in freedom in the
world. Freedom House has documented that. But in the long run, I think that that's where
we're headed and that technology will help us get there. But it's by no means certain
that it will. It depends on a lot of other things. And so the second thing to be said
is that it's very important not to be deterministic about the Internet or any other form of ICT
and the impact it can have on freedom and human empowerment in a variety of ways. In
the end, these are tools. All forms of information and communication technology are tools. The
printing press was a tool. The radio was a tool. Television was a tool. The telephone
is a tool. I mean there's no intrinsic moral value in the technology itself. I do think
that the Internet is somewhat unique however in some technical respects. And obviously,
the speed of communication is one--it's in contrast to television or radio, obviously,
a two-way medium, in fact, a phenomenally almost infinitely multi-way medium particularly
when it is grafted on to the forms of social media that we have. So I think there is some
properties of the Internet and the applications that are being, you know, merged with it that
have interesting potential to advance human freedom and the capacity for organization.
But obviously, this depends on the balance of innovation between people who want to use
them to advance freedom and people and organizations and most of all states who want to use them
for purposes of control. And so, when you ask, "What's going to be the ultimate outcome
on the technology competition if not in a peaceful sense of war that's underway between
autocrats and democrats?" Well, I'd say, "It's heavily a race of innovation." And I think
in the long run if you look at history and all technological struggles, people and social
forces that have favored and been working for freedom have won the technological races.
That's one reason why I'm optimistic. But final--a fourth I would say--unfortunately
not finally, but I'll speed up here--that, you know, in the end, freedom is won, it's
lost, it's gained, it's preserved, it's squandered by people and their organizations, not by
technologies. And so, there's a lot we can do on the technology front I hope we're going
to get into it to circumvent censorship and suppression and to invent and multiply. And
I want to really underscore this, drive down the cost by getting into more mass production
of technologies that can evade censorship and empower citizens who want to use these
technologies in difficult and suppress circumstances. But it's ultimately the people and the organizations
and the character of the regimes and their degree of legitimacy and depth that will determine
the outcome of this as it merges with technology. Two more points and then I'll close. One is
very specifically about China. But let me also suggest it's got a--you know, a generalization
behind it. People are very pessimistic about China now. And, you know, let's face it, the
Chinese regime is riding high and feels very few inhibitions about behaving as egregiously
as it does in so many fronts. And, you know, what it's done to the Tibetan people, what
it's done to Liu Xiaobo and other advocates of democracy and human rights that China has
pledged in international documents to respect is, you know, obviously, far more serious
than what it did to Google as a corporation. And, you know, if you had looked at the apparent
stability, entrenchment, and persistence of communist authoritarianism anywhere in the
Soviet Bloc, you know, from the early 1950s to the late 1980s, you would have generally
been as pessimistic as most people are about China now. I realized China's much more dynamic
now than the Soviet Union was in the 1980s, but there was a time in the 1960s when the
Soviet Union seem very dynamic economically as well, and in a way, the wave of the future.
And I believe they're fighting a losing battle because of several things. One is--and I'll
mention two--one is as development persists, people want freedom more. This is a natural
human tendency. It's been documented in a great wealth of social science research. So,
if the Chinese Communist succeed in developing their country in a generation or two, not
that much longer, certainly within, well within the life span of most people in this room--I
know it with pleasure, It's a very young audience. They're going to have insurmountable pressures
for political change for democracy. And they're going to have to meet them gradually and become
a democracy, or fail to meet them and be overthrown. And the second thing is people are going to
find a way as they deepen their desire for freedom to get this information. I want us
to help them. I want Google to help them. But believe me, they're traveling more and
more, they're highly motivated, they're going to find a way. And as information seeps in,
it's very, very corrosive of dictatorship. My final point very briefly, Pablo, would
be to expand on what you've said. In a way, I think very legitimately that this company
is rightly concerned about, and that is it's not just 40 countries censoring the Internet,
its countries like Australia now debating very, very serious abridgements of Internet
access. And if it--and if I may say so, it's Internet service providers in democracies
which haven't yet settled upon serious censorship that are playing with very serious potential
abridgements of what I think needs to be a sacred principle of net neutrality. So these
are all things that I think we need to get into.
>> CHAVEZ: We need to characterize our self as a general optimist and a cyber-optimist
specifically. Just a point of clarification, do you see--is your optimism based on kind
of an organic sense of progress of free expression and access to information or do you see yourself
as somebody who really please that we need to kind of engineer and structure the effort?
>> DIAMOND: It's not deterministic, okay? If we think that there is some grand teleological
force, religious or, you know, existential that simply going to, by some hidden hand,
propel the world toward freedom. I think we're making a fatal mistake because--huh? So, you
know, freedom is won through struggle and innovation and organization and partnership
between free people and free societies and people who want to be free on un-free societies,
which is, you know, much of the work of Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy
and other organization. So I'm not possibly existentially optimistic. I'm optimistic because
we have these organizations and social forces. And I'm optimistic because I think that people
in free societies, in climates of not only economic but political, cultural, and intellectual
freedom windup innovating more effectively, resolutely, and in the unsuccessfully than
people in the un-free societies. I think the history shows that. So we don't want to be,
you know, passive about it. But if we understand that constant innovation and technological,
in a way, battle to find better tools that the tools that autocrats have and tools around
their tools and to have competitions to improve them and to have support for investment in
them which I think this country should be doing. I think one of the most effective things
the United States could do to advance freedom is take the, I don't know, many, many billions
of dollars we're spending now to support democratic development and good governance around the
world and invest a small part of that in support for innovations to promote access to the Internet
and Internet freedom and to fight on the world stage as Secretary of State Clinton began
to do and I think a very historic speech here in January on Internet freedom for the principle
of Internet freedom. >> CALINGAERT: Yeah, very excellent. Technology
[INDISTINCT]. I think--sorry, I think the Internet is a very powerful tool and just--you
cited a couple of examples, I think of it in these terms. First of all, it is turned
into a media where anyone can be a journalist. Anyone can be a publisher. You don't need
to wait for CNN to get to the story with the camera, anyone on the streets of Iran can
take a photograph or a video of police beating up demonstrators or even those happy occasions
where the police were outnumbered and we're on the run and manage to get it out and that's
broadcast around the world. Also through social networking, it is far easier and quicker to
connect to people who share your views and to organize. And to cite one recent example,
in Egypt, there's a Facebook group supporting ElBaradei's efforts to reform the election
system and probably run for president, which has attracted over 170,000 members in a matter
of weeks. And this was unimaginable before you had Web2.0. Now the problem is democracy
activist aren't the only ones who know this. Dictators know this and they're very conscious
and just as they use to muzzle the press, the traditional media, they muzzled the Internet
and they have in fact become very sophisticated. We often cite examples from China and Iran
because in many ways, they have the most sophisticated systems and they restrict Internet space at
many different levels and many different ways. And more and more, they're also invading privacy.
They're using these very tools to track what dissidents are doing and actually the same
networks that are used to organize dissent can also expose organizations that are working
for a reform. So, I see this as very much an area of struggle in many ways. The latest
frontier in a long struggle between dictators and free societies, and a lot depends on how
free societies and our governments engage in the struggle.
>> CHAVEZ: And when--building a little bit on Larry's point about Australia, do you see
it as that binary or are you seeing the emergence of, you know, what Larry has written about,
you know, hybrid regimes? I mean, is there--is this really kind of like either-or, or are
you saying kind of, you know, essentially kind of a spectrum of censorship and surveillance
activities, you know, from totalitarian to democratic regimes?
>> CALINGAERT: There's a spectrum, and actually one of the worrying trends is that many of
the bad habits from China are being copied or exported. And just in recent months, we
are seeing increasing restrictions in places from--well, Kazakhstan last year but Venezuela,
Cambodia. There's one other country I can't remember at the moment. But, you know, there
is a trend to even among countries that are not quite as authoritarian, but authoritarian
rulers everywhere see that Internet can threaten their hold on power. I think it's important
for free countries like Australia to set a good example. And so, if, you know--obviously
everyone wants to keep child pornography off the Internet. But where there are restrictions,
it should be very narrowly defined. And the methods to restrict it should be transparent,
so people know what is being kept out and if there's some debate over whether something
is child pornography or art, you know, there are institutions in place and methods to bring
that up. But, you know, the censors in dictatorial countries use that mainly as an excuse. And
you saw that with the Green Dam Technology in China last year. Of course, they're going
to say, "Well, we're doing this to protect children." They're not going to say, "We're
doing this to stop our citizens from discussing their history openly and discussing political
alternatives." >> CHAVEZ: Right.
>> CALINGAERT: So I, you know, I focused and I think the real challenge is political expression,
you know, the real cases to focus on or where citizens cannot criticize their government
or point out corruption and discuss alternatives. >> CHAVEZ: And, Omid, what are you seeing?
In your experience, what are you seeing on the ground and your own involvement in Iran
and other places? >> MEMARIAN: In what way?
>> CHAVEZ: Oh, in terms of, you know, the experience with censorship, experience with
surveillance, experience with the use of these tools for free expression. I mean, how do
you end up in this debate, cyber-optimist, cyber-pessimist, cyber-realist?
>> MEMARIAN: I'm very optimist about the future of this freedom--Internet freedom. I think
at the beginning, it's good to consider this question that why governments, about the Iranian
government, spent millions of dollars to stop the flow of information? Why they spent millions--if
not billions of dollars to fight with the Internet? What was the --what's the problem
with that? I think it's good to really what the Internet has done over the past few years
with the--with the Iran--Republic of Iran would be an authoritarian regime. You know
that there is a--this country has enjoyed a huge propaganda machine and they want that
we had a state TV which is in the government service. And they have a huge network support.
[INDISTINCT] for example, you have probably have never heard of that. If you haven't followed
T1, or there's a huge network of a Friday prayer that, for example, in 10 minutes if
you send a fax from Tehran, from the Mosque, then in less than one hour in a small village,
you know, a remote village in the country, they receive their message. So the next--for
the Friday prayer, the mums know how--what to preach and what to talk about. So, they
have a huge, gigantic propaganda machine, and what Internet did was to challenge the
knowledge of the government. The government was really successful to dominate its narrative
of the events. But the election last year was a huge surprise for the government. They
tried to narrative--dominate their narratives of the events. But one--a 20-year old guy
on the street of Tehran shot a video and put it on YouTube. And it just damaged the entire
narrative of the government. So for them, it was a shocking...
>> CHAVEZ: You're talking about the native video?
>> MEMARIAN: Yeah. And after that, the government tried to stop e-mail systems or SMS systems.
And at the time, I was working for Human Rights Watch. And then, one of the few channels that
we had with--inside Iran was through e-mails and Skype. So, we received lots of information
about the families of prisoners and those who were released from detention and they
told us their stories of torture and we had--it was the Internet that they could document,
for example, three cases of rape inside prisons. And if it was not Internet, I think God knows
how many people--how many more people, you know, would have been killed on the streets.
>> CHAVEZ: And have you been able to use the post-election experience to help build best
practices about getting the--you know, getting the word out, organizing on the Internet,
et cetera. I mean, are there--I mean, is there--you know, besides the--you know, the world's attention,
you know, obviously that came from Internet access, where there any other good news, stories
coming from--you know, coming out of the post-election movement?
>> MEMARIAN: I think Iranians have used the Internet after the election as a mobilizing
tool. And in many--and different ways, they have used this ad to rebuild their violence
inside prisons under streets of Tehran under their cities. And it has been the best watchdog
for the government of brutal actions to anyone. So I think the Iranian activists and the journalists
and those who know how to work with Internet, they--many of them have used the Internet
in a way that we have been able to monitor what's going on inside the country and also
politically put pressure on the Iranian government internationally. For example, we have been
to Geneva. We had to put pressure on the Iranian government as a Human Rights Council. So if
it was not the information received from Iranian inside the country, it was not possible for
us to document those human rights violations and all of that.
>> CHAVEZ: Right. The last thing on Iran, you know, I'm not sure if everybody in the
audience knows, but Iran has a very robust blogosphere. And it was visualized I think
about a year ago by a couple of researchers at the Berkman Center at Harvard. It's actually
beautiful visualization of the blogosphere. Can you talk a little bit about how--whether
that the Iranian blogosphere remains robust-based today in the wake of the election and how
that's existing today? >> MEMARIAN: I think it's a pretty live environment.
Many of the bloggers that I know, they had to change their, you know, websites or they
now write anonymously. But they are so active and many of the--even said we have--after
the election, it was mainly on the shoulder of those bloggers who are very--that had hands
in the society on one hand and also they're active in the blogosphere. I just wanted to
mention something about--something that Daniel said that--how governments have become sophisticated.
And I think that's true that the governments have become sophisticated. I remember like
four--five years ago I was imprisoned for my writings on Internet. And my interrogator
was asking me that why did you sent your articles to the websites out of the country. And I
was--and I told him that I never sent anything outside but on my blog and I never sent anything
outside. So the thing was, you know, after hours, I've learned that he have--I said,
you know, I linked. These websites have linked to my articles in my blog. I never sent anything.
And he couldn't understand the phenomena of link. And after a few hours, I thought I'm
not going to--he's going to--he's not going to understand. Somebody who have--doesn't
have any e-mail. How can I teach him what is linking or links are? Finally, I said--I
gave up and I said "I faxed. I faxed all those articles to the website." So I knew that,
you know, he's not going to understand what a link or linking is but he could understand
what a fax was. So it was four years ago--five years ago. But now they are going after those
people who are providing VPN for activist and journalist and that's--so it shows that
how they have become more sophisticated. But on the other side, people have become more
sophisticated too. Those who are active in the--online activist have become much more
sophisticated too. >> CHAVEZ: So I'm going to ask two questions
to the panel and then I'll--oh, I'm sorry? I'll turn it over to the audience. And also
should we put up the moderator question. I just have that ready to go. Omid, you mentioned
anonymous speech, for Larry and for Daniel, how important is anonymous speech in the efforts
to build more robust free expression and to democratize?
>> CALINGAERT: I think it's a very important aspect of free speech in closed societies
like Iran and China where we've seen far too many cases of journalists, ordinary citizens
making comments that--not even necessarily critical at the government but simply critical
of the situation or exposing corruption by one official or another and they are subject
to arrest or attack and so on. You know, one of the concerns we've seen in Iran and elsewhere
is that when known dissidents are interrogated, one of the first questions is what their password
is and that not only they're exposing themselves, but their contacts and, you know, this leads
us to, you know, working at an activist level that I think one of the big challenges is
helping activist become more sophisticate about their own digital security and that
of their networks. And, you know, there's been a good learning curve in recent times
but I think much more needs to be done. >> DIAMOND: I completely agree with that.
I think that we who are encouraging people to stand up for freedom in difficult places
and helping them to do so need to constantly be urging and facilitating greater Internet
vigilance and security on the part of activist. Anyone who's watching this on YouTube or elsewhere
and doesn't feel confident about their level of security might go to
and have a look at the long list of tips for Internet security that they have there for
activist. And we have an obligation, I think, to do more technologically to protect people
and to inform people that sometimes these are calculated risks even when they think
they're being anonymous because if they're not being extremely vigilant in what they're
doing and observing essential and basic protocols of security, they may be discovered even though
they're trying to be anonymous. Their identity could be exposed by sophisticated authoritarian
state. So we come back to the technological battle.
>> CHAVEZ: So we're going to open it up to the audience. But first, I'm going to take
a question from the virtual audience. This is our moderator tool. People submit questions
and then other folks get to, you know, vote on these questions and the kind of most popular
question bubbles up to the top. But if folks want to kind of start stepping up to the microphones
as I ask this, please do so. So let's respect democratic principles, we'll take the top
one. "In a practical sense, how effective do you believe that online action can be transformed
into offline impact? And is there a risk of people feeling that they've done enough once
they have spread the message online?" Anybody want to take that one?
>> DIAMOND: Well, we might start with Iran where I think you've seen some vivid demonstrations
of that. Omid? >> MEMARIAN: What was the question exactly?
>> CHAVEZ: Yeah, do you want to take a look at it? You know, actually, yeah, I can read
it. So how effective do you believe that online action can be transformed into offline impact?
And is there a risk of people feeling that they've done enough once they have--once they
have agreed--I'm sorry--once they have spread the message online? I think part of this gets
into--gets in the question of kind of like, you know, kind of thin democratic participation.
>> DIAMOND: Yeah, and whether people are only virtual in their participation there. Let
me start with the United States. >> CHAVEZ: Yeah, okay.
>> DIAMOND: Try to make it concrete and then, Omid, maybe you'll have something to say about
Iran, and Daniel about other countries. Look--I mean, it's just a fact. I don't think many
people would dispute it. Without the Internet, Barrack Obama would not be president of the
United States. Now, a lot of people expressed their views but they didn't stop with that
and was the flood of small scale contributions that poured into Obama's campaign. And by
the way, I'm not being Partisan here. Scott Brown would not have been elected to Kennedy's
Seat in Massachusetts quite possibly without the Internet either and the extraordinary
flood of contributions that poured into his campaign in the final weeks of the Massachusetts
Senate race. But coming back to Obama, which I would frankly prefer to do, the online merged
with the offline. This was the extraordinary story of the campaign and it began with the
Howard Dean Campaign in 2004. People met virtually and then they met physically. People were--received
messages. And let's remember, it wasn't only the Internet per se. I mean I was bombarded
on my cell phone. Once they got my cell phone number, they never gave it up. And every time
they needed another e-mail sent to the Senate on this Healthcare debate, anybody who'd ever
given the Obama campaign their cell phone number got, you know the blast message. But,
you know, people walked precincts, gave money, turned out at rallies, met at coffee parties
and became intensely active. And if it's just virtual, it's not going to deepen democracy
that much. I think one of the exciting things about Internet activism is that it isn't just
virtual. It's a tool that's merging with old-fashioned tools of face-to-face communication of people
coming out in demonstrations. If it were only virtual, the Iranian regime wouldn't have
been seriously threatened. The online activism mobilized on street activism.
>> MEMARIAN: I think that's very true. Many of those videos that they watched online or--that's
available now on the YouTube--I remember, you know, some of the people who were active
in the post-election protest, they used to go to the protest and then they come back
home and download the video and put it online and then just seeing how it's--it has been
portrayed. And many of them were telling me that how--"Omid, how did these videos have
been--have been heard or have been portrayed?" Because for them, it was very important the
way they were portrayed outside of the country mainly because the government--the government
stop--tried to stop any kind of communication tools. So for them, it was very important
than the outside world to see that. And so that many of them were--actually, those people
who were actual people on the streets. >> CHAVEZ: All right. Go ahead.
>> It's on? >> CHAVEZ: It's on.
>> [INDISTINCT] private space. I'm wondering if you have any comments about...
>> DIAMOND: Could you speak up--the acoustics here are very bad.
>> CHAVEZ: Okay. >> Thanks for your words about how the Internet
is helping complicate the distinction between public and private space. I'm wondering if
you have any comments about how this could potentially empower or is already, perhaps,
empowering women in particular in the challenges that they specifically place in some of these
countries? Thank you. >> CHAVEZ: Is that for a particular panelist
or free-for-all? >> Yeah, anyone who wishes to...
>> CHAVEZ: Okay. >> MEMARIAN: I can give you an example? You
know, an Iranian--for example, in a country, in an authoritarian regime like Iran, if an
international organization wants to go to Iran for training purposes, the government
will not allow them to be there. Over the past years, we have had difficulties to educate
journalists, civil society activists, so--but, you know, we have been able to educate many
them via the Internet. For example, International Center for Journalist in Washington DC, they
have online courses for Iranian journalists in Iran and they can even sign up with an
anonymous name and go online and be educated in three-week--month, learn something; multimedia
writing, investigative reporting, whatever. And there have been other organizations that,
you know, have used Internet for educational purposes, building capacity for civil society,
activist and journalist and the others. >> DIAMOND: The question was about empowerment
of women, right? >> MEMARIAN: And women as well.
>> DIAMOND: Yeah. So let me say a couple more things. One is I think that the combination
of this new generation of ICTS, not just the Internet, I want to say again, the mobile
phone is extremely important here and increasingly will be in its future iterations. The vehicle
by which much of the world accesses the Internet and--but just the ability to send and receive
SMS and even voice communication is extremely important. And if you look in the developing
world--first of all, you know, a lot of the small scale entrepreneurs who are selling
phone access and recharging phones are women. Second of all, the ability to send and receive
information--we don't really have time to get into it here--in new instant and much
diffused ways is having a transformative impact on micro-enterprise, public health, and all
sorts of other things in Africa. And since women are always at the bottom of the distribution
in almost any society on valued objectives including public health, if you make dramatic
improvements and access, women are going to benefit, I would argue, disproportionately.
There have been some very interesting innovations in the application of this technology to the
protection of women in instances of spousal abuse and so on. Again, the ability in a decentralized
way with their spouses or husbands or, you know, dominant male partners not knowing to
send information, find safe houses, and situations of abuse is a promising venue. And here in
this country, again, organizations representing less powerful communities whether it's women,
minorities or poor and whatnot. I think are finding in this type of technology a very
potent organizing tool. And in this regard, you probably know about this organization,
but I'd refer people to the website of this relatively new organization MomsRising, which
is had some very discernable significant impact on social legislation for protecting women
and families, facilitating their reentering into the workforce, you know, just in the
last year or two using very intensively the Internet.
>> CHAVEZ: Perfect. We're going to switch over to this microphone, sir.
>> Okay. [INDISTINCT] What I see in Western countries supplying, there were three dictatorships
in Middle East, high technology in order to monitor terrorist, terrorist activity. But
at the same time, this dictatorship is using this high technology supplied by Western countries
to monitor intellectual, democratic activist, and the--this is how--with the Larry Diamond
article [INDISTINCT] become democracy, because also they use this high western supplied technology
to control their society and intellectual and democratic activist. When I saw article
a couple of weeks ago on Washington Post, it show that dictatorship in Azerbaijan. The
president is buying $75 million Real Estate for his eight-year old son in Dubai. And this
is what Internet can do for us to promote democracy and then at least if they can promote
more and help activist and intellectual and also show this dictatorship how they're wasting
the Middle Eastern resource and how they're controlling their government and their society.
Thank you. >> CHAVEZ: Yeah, which is like...
>> CALINGAERT: Yeah. I agree. This is a serious problem. And I think we need to make a distinction
between countries that have due process and generally respect the rights of their citizens
and those who don't. And, you know, the same technology, for instance, the, you know, Net
Nanny Software we used here to protect children is also used in the Middle East to block out
political content and different religious views. And you know, the difference is here,
ultimately, its parents and schools and citizens who are deciding how to use this software.
And in authoritarian regimes the same software is being abused. Similarly, there's the, the
infamous case of the Nokia Siemens surveillance technology in Iran. And I understand it was
sort of an integral part of a monitoring system that in Europe it would be used to--for legitimate
criminal investigations. Well, it shouldn't be a surprise that if you sell that same technology
to the Iranian regime they're going to use it to track down dissidents. And the dissidents
will suffer mightily simply because they express views independently. I think that we ought
to look seriously at restricting the export of these technologies to regimes that are
using them to abuse human rights. >> CHAVEZ: So you're making a legislative
recommendation? Or... >> CALINGAERT: Yes.
>> CHAVEZ: Any question? >> We've talked about the ways that the Internet
has allowed people to come together online to organize and then take their actions offline,
and actually have positive effect. I'm interested in the rather dark flipside of this. Where
people have been able to come and organize, especially like the Netizens, the so-called
human meet vigilante Netizens in China, who, despite China's censorship, have actually
been able to organize and go after individual people. Most famously, I think, a woman who
posted a video of herself stomping a kitten's head was actually found and hunted down and
run out of her town and lost her job. All by Netizens organizing together to figure
who she was, where she was, and how to go after her. And--which is kind of eerily reminiscent
of the Cultural Revolution mobs going after individuals. And one could say that there
might even be eerie echoes of dissident States where people have found congressmen's addresses
who voted for the Healthcare Bill, and gone after their houses. And so, my question is--I'm
just curious for your views of the negative impact of people able to organize online and
come together to take action. >> DIAMOND: In his book, Flat World, Tom Friedman
introduces the concept of super empowerment. Wherein the flat world, information is moving
very fast, more and more people have access to these very powerful and instantaneous technologies.
And at one thing it's empowered--super empowered is terrorist which is even more disturbing
than the super empowerment of, you know, nasty people doing vindictive things to their neighbors
or their members of congress. It's obvious to me that the next totalitarian movements,
not just Islamist, but if there are some new Nazi party. And the really fanatical movements
here in the US and elsewhere will use this technology very creatively and effectively.
So it's like I said at the beginning, its value neutral. Anybody's going to use it.
I think the bias will be toward freedom, but the danger would be that it'd be abused and,
you know, the challenge for Democratic Societies is the challenge we've always had. I mean,
you know, we want to protect free speech in the United States. We have a very strong bias
in that direction, but you can't scream, "Fire" in a theater and not--falsely and maliciously
and not face consequences, and you shouldn't be able to insight to violence and we could
debate about where the line is drawn in that and then have violence happen. And, you know,
in the way that I think we're edging toward with the kind of rhetoric we have now, and
not, in my view, face some criminal liability for what you've done. So, you know the same
types of tensions and philosophical legal and moral dilemmas that we've had in our free
society for a long time, you know, now spill over into the realm of the Internet. And I
think it requires good sense, serious ethical and philosophical debate, possibly some new
adaptation of our laws and rules. But not the gross and dangerous level of adaptation
towards serious and unnecessary suppression of the Internet that even some Democratic
Societies are seriously talking about now. >> Thank you.
>> CHAVEZ: So we're going to continue the ping pong. You have a question?
>> Mr. Diamond, you talked earlier about... >> DIAMOND: Could you speak right into the
mic? >> Sorry.
>> DIAMOND: Again, the acoustics aren't very good.
>> I'm sorry. Mr. Diamond earlier you spoke about, you know, a portion of USA--US dollars
going to developing democracies needing to be facilitating innovation in the cyber tech
scheme of the world. I was wondering if you could kind of flush that out and, you know,
point-by-point, tell us what that looks like on the ground, and what kind of policies are
needed to facilitate that. What needs to happen and what's that's going to look like? How--you
know, how does that happen? >> DIAMOND: Okay. Right now, there's a very,
very narrow pipeline of access to the Internet in Burma, you know, Cuba, its very narrow,
and North Korea it's virtually nonexistent. I mean, those are the most, closest societies
of all. It's not very good in Iran, but Iran looks like a paradise of pluralism compared
to Burma right now. So, we wouldn't have known anything about the Saffron Revolution. Well,
I won't quote--go quite that far. We wouldn't have had the dramatic visual images and we
might have had much more slaughter in Burma. If the generals in Burma had not known that
visual images were leaking out and their very fleeting fragile scarce, you know, remnants
of international legitimacy it might have been shattered all together if they'd engaged
in a larger scale of slaughter than they did. And so, it's quite possible that the infiltration
out of Burma during the Saffron Revolution a couple or so years ago, actually saved a
number of lives and it certainly lifted spirits. It didn't bring democracy to Burma in the
year 2007. But, you know, every attempt has a long term cumulative affect in terms of
inspiring hope and raising domestic and international awareness. So finding alternative means of
enabling people in these societies to get unfiltered, uncensored, unimpeded, and more
secure access to the Internet, I think is now one of the most urgent and promising means
of expanding freedom in the world. Now, I'm not, you know, an engineer. I can't say with
confidence how this can be done, but I'll give you some examples to--I'm kind of intrigued
by now. One is satellite modems. I think that there is interesting potential here. The problem
is go online, look it up. I did so, very hard to find one for less than $1,000. Well, you
know, if the United States government were to resolve to buy, you know, 100,000 of these
things or 50,000 of them, I'm betting we could drive down the price of producing these things
by a very, very significant factor. And if we did that--and then it became more available
at a lower price on the market, and well, lots of people are going to Dubai now to go
shopping, you know. So, maybe that's one of the things that Iranians might quietly shop
for and go back in their country. There were satellite modems in Burma and that's how some
of the images of the Saffron Revolution got up. But there were very, very few of them.
So, if we can think of ways to drive down the cost, improve the access, maybe we need
to put up more satellites. I, as an American taxpayer, would be glad to do that to find
a way to give people in closed societies alternative means of getting around all sorts of firewalls
of authoritarian control that's one thing. Now, one of my kind of favorite movies of
the last few years is Pirate Radio. The--about the rock, you know radio station off the British
Coast. And--Okay, they were beaming rock music. Now, what if you put a bunch of pirate radio
stations off the coast of Cuba that were not beaming radio--we've got enough of that going
into CUMA. But wireless Internet, which some new research being done in Berkley suggests
with recent technological innovations, could actually travel if there's a line of sight
as far as 300 miles. Very interesting potential here for people in Cuba to get around their
firewall and get access to the Internet. I tell you, if we lift the embargo on Cuba,
start enabling people to--Americans to travel there, open businesses there, and enabling
Cubans to get access to the Internet, this regime is going to be toast, I think, within
a relatively few number of years. So, that's two examples.
>> CHAVEZ: So Larry, so maybe that works for Cuba. But what--the notion of poking holes
through firewalls and--you know, and essentially relying on, you know, circumvention technology
and so forth. Is that really getting at the root cause of the problem? Because isn't the
root cause of the problem affect...? >> DIAMOND: No. The root...The root cause
of the problem is authoritarian regime. >> CHAVEZ: Right, so rather than poking holes
into walls, why not focus on knocking down the walls altogether with trade initiatives,
diplomacy and so forth. Not that it's binary, but...
>> DIAMOND: Well, I think Daniel will want to come in here, but let me make a first stab
at this. Point number one, Pablo, how much leverage do you think we have with China right
now as they hold what, a trillion, two trillion dollars of our debt, and, you know, feel their
power rising in the world? You know, it's really pretty close to zero right now. Now,
we have more leverage over a number of other authoritarian regimes but, you know, many
of them are as the gentleman here indicated, security allies of the United States in the
Middle East, security allies of the United States in the Horn of Africa, security allies
of the United States in other places in the world, and what is become a new cold war,
the war on terrorism and, you know, the security interest bud up with the interest you'd like
to invoke here and we wind up not invoking a lot of leverage. So I'm not saying we shouldn't
invoke it. I think we should, but I think as a practical matter in the policy wars that
go on in Washington DC, when the Pentagon walks into the room, and other elements of
the national security architecture of America's engagement in the world walk into the room,
you know, a lot of these more idealistic considerations lose out. So if it's going to come to the
point were the Pentagon and the CIA and these others instruments of our international engagement
and security are going to do their thing in a lot of the places in the world that are
going to prevent us from exercising leverage then my appeal is let's at least find other
tools to help, you know, repress people in some of these countries. So I think we've
got to work in multiple of ways, should our foreign policy respond to the Freedom House
annual report documenting the concerns that you've just articulated more forthrightly
than it has, absolutely. But--and I'd--so that's of course the best way to do it, but,
you know, in a lot of places we don't have the leverage to do it, and in other places,
not all of the potential places, it doesn't look any time soon like we're going to exercise
the leverage that we might have. >> CHAVEZ: Daniel, then we'll turn to you
Chris. >> CALINGAERT: Yeah, I'd agree with much of
what Larry said but I would emphasize we should use the leverage that we have. And my sense
is that we need to do more of that. When Secretary Clinton gave her speech on Internet freedom
which I thought was an excellent statement of principles, it was very interesting that
afterwards she took a couple of questions. And one was from a businesswoman who had a
company in China under pressure to collaborate with the censors and essentially asked Secretary
Clinton "What can you do for me now?" And there was also a group representing the Indonesian
dissidents who brought up the case of two imprisoned bloggers who essentially asked
the same question. It's great to hear these principles but what can you do to weigh-in
on these cases. Now obviously each government will follow its own rules and put up its own
barriers but there's a difference between saying that's their choice versus this is
an issue in our bilateral relations. >> CHAVEZ: Because again, I mean, you know,
fantastic to have circumvention technology, fantastic for people to have access to information
but the fact to the matter, if you--is that if you are living in a repressive regime and
you access that information then you maybe a criminal. In which case...
>> DIAMOND: As where the--virtually, all of the people in Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia,
Romania and elsewhere who were listening to the broadcast of the voice of America on shortwave
radio. >> CHAVEZ: So you're accounting on essentially
civil disobedience within... >> DIAMOND: Absolutely. And I think there
are many historical reasons to do so. The thing that's more worrisome is that I think
there is greater potential for the people trying to utilize these technologies now to
be tracked down and punished than there may have been then when the principal thing you
had to do was keep the radio very soft by your bed and hide it under your bed at night.
>> CHAVEZ: Right. Chris. >> CHRIS: So earlier in the debates someone
mentioned the Nokia Siemens issue, which was a telecommunications company...
>> CHAVEZ: Chris, speak up a little bit. >> CHRIS: Sorry. Yeah. Nokia Siemens was mentioned
earlier. This was a telecommunications company. It was including surveillance capabilities
and its wireless front equipment. One of the issues that wasn't mentioned is that all telecommunications
companies have to include surveillance capabilities as required by law. So, I mean in this country,
$500 million was given to phone companies to upgrade their equipment to be wiretapped
capable. And so even if we're not exporting the surveillance to foreign countries, the
fact that there are surveillance capabilities built into the software or the services actually
poses a real threat. I think the best example of this happened in Greece in 2004 were an
unknown entity hacked into the Greek Vodafone cell phone network and spy on a high-level
government officials and foreign diplomats. And we still, to this day, don't know who
was doing it. The day they've broken in using the local intercept capabilities and broken
into that network. It's the reason I bring this up is that I'd like to ask a question
to the moderator. Shortly after the China hack incident was announced, there was one
article in IBG in MacWorld which referenced an unnamed Google engineer exposing that Google's
local intercepts or local surveillance system to Gmail on which it uses to respond to subpoenas
and search warrants from law firms from here was actually breached by the Chinese hackers.
And after that, I saw a no mention of that in press. And so I'd like to get some confirmation
was your local intercept system for Gmail actually compromised by these hackers?
>> CHAVES: Yeah, and I'll tell you Chris. I'm not familiar with the details but I do
know that there is, you know, this continuing ongoing investigations of the matter, you
know, and hopefully over the course of time, we can talk a little bit more about, you know,
about, you know, precisely what happened but I am familiar with the report, I'm just not
in the position to answering details. >> Hi, good afternoon. I'm [INDISTINCT] National
Endowment for Democracy. >> CHAVEZ: Can you speak louder?
>> Yes, [INDISTINCT] from National Endowment for Democracy. And picking up on the discussion
about the speech about principles of freedom access through the Internet of Hilary Clinton,
very recently the Department of the Treasury announced that it was going to ease restrictions
on access to chat and other IT tools for Iran, Sudan, and Cuba. Is this the type of move
that you see as a translation of moving from the rhetoric to the action from the United
States, and is this also in tune with what you, Mr. Diamond, was saying about facilitating
access to a close society such as Cuba? And I have a second question very quickly, also
in regards to the point of the distinctions between China and Iran and closed societies
such as Cuba and definitely in North Korea where access to Internet is at best very,
very limited. And what are the prospects that you see for activist bloggers that used the
Internet or try to use the Internet in these countries and also what are your recommendation
coming from Iran, for let's say the blogger's in Cuba that are trying to assess as sort
of changed in the country but have very limited or almost no access to the Internet, thank
you. >> DIAMOND: Would you answer?
>> CALINGAERT: Yes. First on the--on U.S. policy, yes, I think it's a significant step
to loosen the restrictions on essentially export of U.S. technology that can be used
by activists. I think there's more that they can do. There's also then I think s significant
level of support for anti-censorship tools through the States Department. I think more
needs to be done on the tougher diplomacy in dealing with the responding to cases of
bloggers who are arrested, companies like Google that are essentially being penalized
for standing up for free expression, and I think that should be made more of the multilateral
effort. I was in Europe recently and was pleased to hear that there was a great deal of interest
in these issues and in what the U.S.... >> CHAVEZ: The need between in terms of American
principles, there are also called American principles of free expressions and European
principles of free expressions what is you--did you noticed that distance between...
>> CALINGAERT: You know, their difference, different views on free expressions and also
privacy they have probably more stringent standards on privacy. But I think in terms
of promoting Internet freedom and especially in countries where that freedom is most restricted
there is a great deal of common ground. They just--to, to give it one practical example
of one of the ideas that is being discussed in policy circles in the EU, is to limit export
of expertise on technology that can be used for surveillance. In essence it's saying,
well, we missed the boat in the Nokia Siemens deal but we can still stop further exports
from going to Iran to maintain that system and to train more telecom officials in the
surveillance. In answer to your second question, you know, there's a great deal of ingenuity
and innovations that comes from within this restricted environments. And the, you know,
we know in the case of Cuba there are some high profile bloggers like Yoani Sanchez who's
won a couple of awards and he has got a lot of press attention in the U.S., and in some
ways it's very surprising where the actual Internet penetration raid is probably around
3% or 4%, and for most Cubans they simply cannot get any access. The cost of going to
an Internet center, you know, the equivalent of the Internet café is prohibitive and most
people who do get access it's through a government office or maybe a university. But she is known
and my understanding is her writings get passed around on USBs or CDs so were they're they...
>> CHAVEZ: It's called the sign USB. So it's kind of hung around the neck, right, so it's
somewhat like a little saint in Cuba so. >> CALINGAERT: Yes.
>> CHAVEZ: One quick point, as we have one, two, three, we have that ten roughly people
maybe it might be, I saw seven people waiting to ask questions and we have about 13 minutes
left so, why don't we just do is kind of try to get like through this questions as quickly
as possible and try to answer as many as possible, and so, I think we were actually... yes.
>> Open up to one question. >> CHAVEZ: Yes.
>> On the censorship thing, how far does it go like I know the French has Yahoo in the
past the a sense of certain sale of goods etcetera, discussion which in the EU they
consider no good at all so, do you still censor that, or is everything out the window in censoring
that? >> CHAVEZ: Is that for me?
>> Whoever wants to answer. >> CHAVEZ: I guess I don't quite understand
the... >> Well, you know, I mean the China censoring
pretty straight forward... >> CHAVEZ: Yes.
>> ...but when the French asked you to censor Nazi websites or paraphernalia is that also
censored... >> CHAVEZ: Yes.
>> ...or are we going completely free now, the good with the bad.
>> CHAVEZ: So, I'll speak up about the, yes, about Google and certainly Yahoo and other
companies that are offering this, and so, the minus thing is that certainly France,
Germany, I believed Poland also are like all three have kind of anti-Nazi content and paraphernalia
laws. We so--we censor that that sites that that promotes those kinds of goods. The difference,
you know, we can have a long conversation about it and the differences between the situations
but, you know, one, for me, one of the significant differences is that this happens pursuant
to a written law that's very transparent and we also do it very transparently..
>> DIAMOND: And democratically arrived at. >> CHAVEZ: And democratically, you know, like
if someone would argue with it democratically is a little bit of an alluded term, but yes
democratically. I'm trying to provoke your respondent. So, so and when we do, you know,
take down or remove access to a site we actually report it, so, for example in the copyright
context, you know, we'll do it and we report the joint effects out in order and so you
actually have very transparent, very holistic list of what precisely has been taken down
due the local law. So frankly, that's seems to be a better way and within the better system,
we're doing this kind of thing. >> Hi. My name is Maria Veriga. I'm a student
at Georgetown University. I'm also a volunteer for the Music Agency and we do communications
worldwide throughout music. But I wanted to specifically target your statement with regards
to Cuba. What you said always engaged with them like an opening of free trade and this
is so very--that will be fantastic. There is a problem, currently right now, you know,
President Obama, actually he condemned the situation in Cuba. Human Rights violations
last month Orlando Zapata he died of starvation and he--I know there's today in Miami, I'm
from Miami also, there's hundreds of women marching on the streets, they're called Las
Damas de Blanco, the women in white and, you know, every--we're all wondering how do you
expect—technology is great, you know, we have [INDISTINCT] we have many things that
are, you know, growing freedom and democracy for the people of Cuba. The past system here
is Fidel Castro has a hold and incredible that you just can't. There's nothing that
you can do, so how do you, I mean there's only so much that you can do with technology
and how do you possibly... >> DIAMOND: Look, let me ask you, let me say
something and then let me ask you to do a manual experiment, okay? Here's what I want
to say, we have had--about 50 years now of a pretty comprehensive embargo of Cuba and
let me ask you how effective has that been in promoting freedom in Cuba?
>> It hasn't--I think >> DIAMOND: Okay. So now...
>> Let me take the stand. I cannot comment on that because I really, I don't know how
it has been. I really don't. >> DIAMOND: Well the answer is of social sciences...
>> How do you have businesses in a country that automatically tells you we know this?
>> DIAMOND: Okay, you asked a question, now let me offer, you know, a response and then,
you know, it can be debated on and I'm sure it will be, as a social scientist who studies
these things I would tell you generally embargoes don't work, okay. They, they--these kinds
of things can work under very special circumstances if you get a lot of international buy in and
if it's got a limited time focus and so on and so forth. But, you know, that of course
has left the barn a long time ago that's my first point. Second point is, I think the
Castros love being embargoed because it isolates their country from flows of information and
ideas. I think that they would fear this. They maybe tempted into it because, you know,
the communist party elite in Cuba like the communist party elite in China and most other
places wants to get rich so foreign investments comes in they'll get more rich and so on and
so forth. But, you know, they'll drink the poison from the chalice in the process. Due
to this mental experiment assumed that the United States lifted unilaterally some of
the current embargo of Cuba. And then declared we're willing to lift the rest of it sequence
in however you imagine in exchange for one thing. Release your political prisoners and
allows certain degree of freedom of information. Then assume that we lifted the ban completely
on travel to Cuba and really began to open up the country. I would start negotiating
on the unilateral basis to establish a form of diplomatic relations while we work very
vigorously to challenge Human Rights violations there to expose them and so on. As there's
more exchange, more information, and by the way the same time that I would be doing this
I would be finding ways to get satellite modems or other means of Internet reception. There's
already an effort to get free cell phones into Cuba I would accelerate that it's a voluntary
effort. I would be getting very, very cheap computers into Cuba, just flag the place with
information. I just honestly believe that the Communist party of Cuba cannot survive
that degree of opening. >> CHAVEZ: So much for my speaker on. We can
talk at the Happy Hour. I need to move for the next, I'm sorry.
>> Okay. Thank you. I appreciate it. >> DIAMOND: That's a view, I could be wrong.
>> Hi. >> CHAVEZ: Hi.
>> My question is directed to Mr. Diamond. You mentioned earlier in your talk that technology
should be used to circumvent censorship. Now, even without that ability to circumvent censorship,
we have seen instances of bad luck for example what Google executives had to face in Italy
recently. How do you think these two can be reconciled?
>> DIAMOND: You said what Google did where? >> Google executives that were based in Italy
recently, they were held for user uploaded content, they were held liable.
>> CHAVEZ: Here's the short version. A video was uploaded to the predecessor of YouTube.
A video of some kids beating up on a special needs boy. The authorities in Italy notified
Google Italy, they then took down the video in which immediately after that, nevertheless,
four executives from the company were prosecuted, three were totally convicted...
>> DIAMOND: Okay. I'll let you talk. >> CHAVEZ: Criminal, in short, certainly that's
the case... >> DIAMOND: Anyway I think we, you know, let
me say the obvious, it's particularly easy to say it here in this building but anyway,
I'll say it, I think we tread down a very dangerous road of losing freedom because now,
freedom on the net has become as Hilary Clinton said in January a very precious dimension
of our freedom. And we tread down a very dangerous road of losing a precious dimension of that
freedom if we allow courts, legislatures or other governmental bodies to hold Internet
service providers accountable for their content and to, you know, have to take initiatives
to imagine what they should do in self-censorship when that isn't their role. I mean they should
make a reasonable good faith effort to try to filter out certain extremely limited realm
of content that we all agree is harmful, like extremely exploitive pornography or terrorism
or so on. But I don't want to hold them criminally liable, you know, for failing to be efficient
in doing that or for making the wrong judgment about where the line is and I would say when
an authority emerges and says, "This is in violation of the law," and then they refused
to take it down, that's only at that moment do I think that the liability should enter
in. So, I'm very troubled by that. >> CHAVEZ: So, really quick to Daniel and
then we have two more people in work at 557. >> CALINGAERT: Yeah, now I would add that
I think it's a very disturbing precedent because this is precisely a method used in China,
Vietnam and other places to what we call outsource censorship from government to companies. And
in more repressive environments, Internet service providers, search engines and so on
are held liable for everything that can appear on their site and they risk losing their business
or worse and that's the sort of thing I would expect to Vietnam, I wouldn't expect it of
Italy. >> DIAMOND: Which is precisely why China gives
every year the Internet Self-Discipline Award. >> CALINGAERT: Right.
>> CHAVEZ: Question. >> I'm probably out of my league asking this
question. I have no training in International Law but I'm hoping that some of you might--we
talk about the differences or you talked about the differences earlier between censorship
in democratic countries versus authoritarian countries. Probably democratic countries say
in Germany, the laws that dictate censored online with Nazis in the center are transparent
we have arrived to that in the sense, whereas in authoritarian countries purely they're
not; they're not transparent; maybe they're not consistently implied to appeal then. And
in many cases, I'm thinking in China for instances, a lot of the censorship targets content relating
to, lets say, [INDISTINCT] or other certain issues under Article 300 of the criminal code
which doesn't meet to the requirements under international law and norms for, you know,
specificity and objectivity. So, I guess my question is for an American or other international
companies that are doing businesses in these countries, is there any way that they can
sort of object to the local laws and sort of saying laws don't meet international law
norms or criteria, they're not consistent with the American laws, we don't feel any
obligation to comply with them, is that impossible? >> DIAMOND: Yeah, the ultimate objection is
not to do business in the country. So I think that is registered reasonably by...
>> MEMARIAN: For example, you have this Global Initiative Network...
>> CHAVEZ: Yeah, the Global Network Initiative. >> MEMARIAN: Yeah, Global--Global Network
Initiative. >> CHAVEZ: Uh-huh.
>> MEMARIAN: For example, Facebook and Yahoo, they have not joined this initiative...
>> CHAVEZ: Well, Yahoo isn't. So it's Yahoo Microsoft and Google for part of the Global...
>> MEMARIAN: Yahoo isn't, but Facebook and Twitter they have not joined...
>> CHAVEZ: Correct. >> MEMARIAN: ...this initiative, right?
>> CHAVEZ: Correct. >> MEMARIAN: And, so it has been--it has been
a concern for many people who live in authoritarian--under authoritarian regimes, I think that Facebook
says for example, remember we go to a country, the local laws applies to what we do. I think
that should be another as mentioned for example, international laws should be--should be applied
to their work. For example, Iran is a member of--is a part of international social and
economic convention... >> CALINGAERT: Right.
>> MEMARIAN:...the UN convention. And that's--that's an international convention and they should
take for example, we--our work is based on this convention that you are a party of that.
So, they shouldn't limit to that local laws. >> CHAVEZ: I think I need to go to the next
one because we're trying to... >> JERRY: Jerry [INDISTINCT] from the Asia
Vision Foundation. After the Iranian protests my foundation, we've targeted Internet freedom
for key initiative for 2010 which was started in 2005. But I want to know, like, we do it
as at first it was censorship circumvention immediately in Iran, China, Vietnam, Burma
and a lot of these areas, as immediately giving tools to these people to be able to get out
online and building on from that. And I want to know, especially from you, Omid, what the
view is like from Iran, what people in Iran are saying we need help on to get on, to get
the work out, to help us organize and things like that. What's the call coming from Iran
because, like I heard, yesterday at [INDISTINCT] that there's $30 million for Internet freedom.
I view it as being very limited scope that they're saying Internet freedom is this issue
of computer and I view it as at Asia Vision Foundation, we're viewing it is as verbatim.
All the things that we want to do. If we write a report, and we want people to read it, they
have to find a way to get to it. And all of these projects that we are working on, we
really--that's why Internet freedom on top of other is so, from the Iranian perspective
and maybe Daniel can give other views from NGOs' perspective on what, what do people
call it? >> MEMARIAN: Actually, that's a good opportunity
to talk about the speech that was made by Secretary Clinton two months ago. I think
there's a problem with that speech that should be considered. You know, in that speech some
countries have been mentioned. And you see af--you know, over the past six months or
the past year there has been a lot of efforts in regards to provide access for Iranians
to Internet or a fight with censorship or that kind of activities. But there's nothing
about it, you know, fighting with censorship in Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Syria or, you
know, countries--the other countries, as Larry said, the U.S. Security Allies in the Middle
East or Central Asia. That double standard really, you know, hurts the administration's
honesty, you know. In those countries, you know, the major lines that--in a major message--in
major newspapers, conservative newspapers, they mentioned this double standard, so how
about Saudi Arabia? And then mentioned crazy cases that have happened, for example, Saudi
Arabia or a similar country, so I think, supporting--if to provide access to the information, it is
a really important thing. It's a moral act. It's not a political act. It's not because
what you are doing is preventing their people from a new lifestyle, a new way of thinking.
So that's good that you are helping them but when we--but when we select those countries.
A country that, two years ago we were after changing the regime. And we were going to
attack them, and now we are going to provide access for their people because we are so
good people and we really want to help them. So it doesn't really fit very well. So I think,
you know, they should really consider that moral aspect of the message which so far,
I haven't--I haven't seen that. >> CHAVEZ: One last question.
>> CALINGAERT: Very briefly, you know, the systems used to restrict the Internet in places
like Iran are so sophisticated that there is no silver bullet. There's not one technology
solution and any censorship is important but equally, technology that protects privacy
against surveillance. If technologies can be found to bring this to mobile platforms,
it will reach a lot more people. But then there's also the human intervention. There
are activists who, within these countries, are coming up with creative ways of avoiding
censorship and also speaking out on these issues. If you think of the case of Egypt,
there's very little technical censorship but there's some prominent bloggers like Kareem
Amer who are in jail because of what they wrote. And sometimes the, you know, the old
fashion repression can also restrict freedom on the Internet. So I think we have to deal
with all of this. >> MEMARIAN: Can I add something else?
>> CHAVEZ: Sure. >> MEMARIAN: Something about your question,
you know, that you want in government is in a propaganda war with the United States after
the revolution. Since January, the Islamic Republic of Iran, they have announced a new
war with the United States, cyber war. So, they have created a cyber army and they're
hacking--have organized their group of hackers. And they're hacking the opposition's websites.
And also, this--two weeks ago, they arrested 30 people, people who are, you know, online
activists, people who provide even domain and hosting for opposition websites or their
critics. And they said that they already have they--we have captured a network of spies.
They're working in this environment. So it has given them a kind of excuse to go after
those who are active online which is something very new for us.
>> CHAVEZ: Last question. >> LANG: Hi, I'm Eric Lang. Thank you very
much for having me. Today, we talked about that censorship being enforced from end users
and the machines that they use to access the Internet which will require all the PCs in
the country to have a preloaded censorship, censorship software built in. How do you see
the kind of censorship systems courtesy of change?
>> CHAVEZ: Daniel? >> CALINGAERT: Well, you know, the Green Dam
Initiative was especially worrisome because it essentially brought censorship right into
the home, into people's own PCs. I know that the Chinese government officially announced
that they were not going ahead with the initiative but I think some companies, vendors are still
uploading the software. You know, I'll go back to the--my initial remarks, I mean, this
is an ongoing struggle and just as the pro-democratic forces are innovating. I think also the forces
of repression are innovative. And the-- >> DIAMOND: Then the Democrats have to innovate
again. >> CALINGAERT: And we have to always, you
know, keep harder, try to get one step ahead. >> CHAVEZ: I want to thank everybody who's
here. Thank you very much for joining us. And thank you very much to the panel, Omid,
Daniel and Larry. Thanks. Thank you.