Sun, January 24, 2010
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Commentary: Don't impose double standards on "Internet freedom"

2010-01-24 12:11:21 GMT2010-01-24 20:11:21 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a recent bold speech here, criticized China's policies on Internet administration and insinuated that China restricts Internet freedom.

Clinton's statement, which were inconsistent with the facts, is clearly yet another example of the double standards that the United States applies.

As is widely recognized, freedom is always relative, and such is also the case with Internet freedom. Through years of development, the Internet has been closely connected with people, bringing both convenience and threats. The threats include Internet-based crimes and pornography.

It is common practice for countries, including the United States, to take necessary measures to administer the Internet according to their own laws and regulations.

The Internet is also restricted in the United States when it comes to information concerning terrorism, porn, racial discrimination and other threats to society.

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Congress approved the Patriot Act to grant its security agencies the right to search telephone and e-mail communications in the name of anti-terrorism. The move aroused a great deal of controversy far and wide.

U.S. authorities have also taken measures, such as installing supervision software and imposing grave punishments, to curb Internet child porn, a serious crime in the country.

The United States often gossips about other countries' policies on administering the Internet, but at the same time it takes similar measures to minimize the spread of illegal information. That shows that the United States takes a strict line with other countries, but not with itself.

Clinton in her speech also talked of Google's threat to quit China due to what the company said were "cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis."

As a matter of fact, the U.S. was the first country to introduce the concept of cyber warfare and then put it into practice. The country also developed a new type of troops -- cyber troops.

The Pentagon has adopted several measures to beef up the military's cyber warfare capacity, according to American media reports last year. In June, Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued an order to establish a new military cyber command dedicated to coordinating the Pentagon's efforts to defend its networks and conduct cyber warfare. The command was expected to be fully operational by October this year.

So, it is quite hypocritical to point one's finger at others without proper justification while managing to strengthen one's own cyber warfare capacity.

Necessary regulation of the Internet is a consensus of the entire international community for the sake of healthy development of the Internet. No responsible country takes a laissez-faire attitude towards the use of the Internet.

It is an operational norm observable by all foreign-funded enterprises to respect and comply with laws and regulations as well as public interests and the cultural tradition of the host country.

Noting that most countries exert some sort of control over information,Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said Friday his company must comply with the laws and customs of any country where it does business.

The U.S. move to make Internet freedom an issue just indicates its continued application of double standards. People just wish that the United States will respect facts and treat others equally. It is not acceptable for someone to assume for themselves the high moral ground and arbitrarily make baseless charges against others.

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