An Important Step For Civil Liberties Globally
January 18, 2007
Filed under International
Earlier today we announced our participation in a joint effort intended to address the challenging civil liberties issues that arise when technology companies expand internationally. The joint process actually ties together several independent efforts begun by major high companies, academics and public interest advocates, including a series of consultations that CDT coordinated last year. From our perspective, there are few technology policy issues in the International arena of greater concern, and we deeply commend all of the technology companies, academic leaders, human rights advocates, investors and others who have agreed to participate in the process. Particular commendation is due the high-tech companies that have been at the vanguard of this effort. Their commitment to getting out ahead of a difficult issue like this sets a very good example. As I said in our press release: "Technology companies have played a vital role building the economy and providing tools important for democratic reform in developing countries. But some governments have found ways to turn technology against their citizens -- monitoring legitimate online activities and censoring democratic material It is vital that we identify solutions that preserve the enormous democratic value provided by technological development, while at the same time protecting the human rights and civil liberties of those who stand to benefit from that expansion." This is an issue that will require a nuanced approach. People in developing nations stand to benefit enormously from technological expansion, and its a trend we should be encouraging, but it is incumbent that the broad technology community also identify solutions to ensure that such development strengthens, rather than weakens free expression and liberty in those countries. Today's announcement is an early step, but a very important one. CDT is committed to doing everything it can to make the joint process a success.