President Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton have always remained extremely vocal about their support for the freedom of speech and free flow of information on the internet. They have both been quoted countless times defending the United State’s stance on the transparency of information in all forms.
Micah Sifry, author of The End of Secrecy recalls a visit President Obama made to students at Shanghai and his remarks on the subject.
“I am a big believer in technology, and I’m a big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.”
Overall, I can definitely agree with his stance on the topic but I cannot fully grasp his statement in regards to a stronger society is linked to how freely information flows. I can recall numerous occasions when information on the internet flowed a little too freely and tore apart society as a whole. For instance, according to Pureseight.com, a recent poll announced that the United States ranked 5th out of 24 countries when parents were polled about cyber bullying affecting their children. I don’t even want to get into the amount of deaths as a result to cyber bullying. Doesn’t sound like a stronger society to me. Though I am sure President Obama’s statements were a little grandeur as far as national security and accountability is concerned, but still… I’d consider cyber bullying on the internet to be a form of free information flowing pretty swiftly. Right?
This brings us back to the classic question of when is it right to put restrictions on information obtained and shared on the internet? What constitutes a ban or cover-up of secret information? Should there be such a thing as secret information? To me, this issue can never fully be defined.