March 10, 2010
Verbatim, as delivered
Chairman Berman’s opening remarks hearing, “The
Google Predicament: Transforming
In a recent speech on 21st-Century statecraft, Secretary Clinton said the State Department is realigning its policies and priorities to harness and promote the power of the latest communication tools.
Her remarks illustrate the fact that new means of electronic communication have created both opportunities and challenges for those who formulate our national security and foreign policy.
While many congressional committees have looked at the issues of human rights, defense, and trade in connection with the Internet, it is time for us to consider a comprehensive approach to the increased worldwide use of cyber-technology.
This hearing will address what we’re
calling the “Google Predicament” because Google’s experience over the past
couple of months highlights the challenges in developing a cyber-specific
foreign policy. The Internet is a useful
tool to promote freedom and trade, but in some places it also serves as a means
of censorship. It’s a boon for
The latest communication technologies are being put to use to advance democracy and protect human rights. Widespread use of Twitter overcame the Iranian regime’s ban on media coverage of last summer’s election results and their aftermath. And a graphic video posted on YouTube of a young Iranian woman who was shot and killed during a protest galvanized world opinion, as it gave people an unvarnished look at the crackdown.
The Administration acknowledged the
power of these communication tools just this past Monday by granting a general
license for the transfer of social networking software to
But paradoxically, cyber-technology also serves as a weapon of choice for repressive regimes. Under our former chairman, Tom Lantos, this committee examined closely how American companies, however passively, can and do facilitate censorship. Our colleague Chris Smith has also been very active in advancing the discussion of this subject.
The notion that American companies can heedlessly supply their software, routers, and information to governments that use them for repressive purposes is untenable. But preventing companies from engaging in trade with countries ruled by those repressive governments is equally untenable, for it would deny billions of people the ability to access the very information needed to support their resistance.
When it comes to human rights, there must be a way to balance the benefits of cyber-technology with its very real potential harms. A voluntary organization known as the Global Network Initiative, made up of human rights organizations and various companies, works directly on this issue. Regrettably, many companies have failed to join. As a result, we may consider legislation to address this issue. Providers of technology need to step up.
American companies did just that
last year when
It’s also very much in the interest
Finally, and perhaps most troubling,
is the way cyber-technology can be exploited to undermine our own
security. Make no mistake: Not only are
sophisticated and network-secure companies like Google vulnerable to attack from
foreign countries, but the entire U.S. network faces assault on a daily
basis. As recently noted by Deputy
Defense Secretary Lynn, an adversarial nation could deploy hackers to take down
We also need to consider the foreign
policy implications of offensive
We look forward to hearing from our witnesses on how we can simultaneously promote Internet freedom and deprive repressive regimes of the tools of cyber-repression; and how we can promote the global diffusion of the Internet while also protecting ourselves from cyber-attack.