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tv   The Communicators  CSPAN  June 25, 2012 8:00am-8:30am EDT

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you want about our existing energy resources, but why couldn't you also believe there's an opportunity for clean energy? >> i think we need to create demand in the next five to ten years for renewables to offset all the advantages that fossil fuels have had, and i think it's clearly happening on a state by state basis. it would be much more effective if it was a federal policy. >> roughly three times of our energy is consumed in mobility as it is in our homes and offices. and natural gas, again, north america's the only continent where we don't have widespread vehicles coming off the assembly line that can use compressed natural gas. there's still a lot of people out there that believe cars or trucks are more likely to burst into flames during a crash. >> developing alternative energy sources are all part of the next generation energy forum. watch conversations online at
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the c-span video library. >> this week on "the communicators," a look at the role of freedom of the internet in human rights and how the u.s. state department keeps tabs on internet freedom. our guest is daniel baer, deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. >> host: well, this week on "the communicators," a look at internet freedom worldwide. the state department recently issued its annual human rights report, and joining us is daniel baer, deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. secretary baer, why is internet freedom include inside a human rights report? >> guest: well, i think one of the things that secretary clinton has, um, brought worldwide attention to, um, which was perhaps not actually new when she started, it was already a story that was
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unfolding, is that, you know, more and more we see that the story of human rights around the world is happening online or through new technologies broadly speaking. when we think about what most of us associate with human rights whether it's, you know, president roosevelt's for freedom speech or the universal declaration of human rights, the exercise of those rights whether it's freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, those rights are increasingly unfolding online. and it doesn't mean that the offlinincarnations don't matter, they still do, but certainly it's hard to imagine for most of us any kind of significant world event where those rights are being exercised happening without those rights being exercised online. so i think the inclusion of internet freedom in the human rights report is meant to reelect that reality -- reflect that reality and contribute to the comprehensiveness of the report. >> host: do you mean freedom of speech, or do you mean access to the internet?
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>> guest: we mean broadly speaking the same rights that apply offline apply online. and so, obviously, freedom of speech, freedom of expression is one that is most prominent. also freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of religion. any human right that is reflected in the universal declaration of human rights or the international covenant on civil and political rights. you know, that should apply online in the same way that it does offline. there's a separate and related conversation about access, um, and that ties into the development of infrastructure, the spread of technology, etc. and certainly we recognize how those two things work in tandem, protecting an open platform and also expanding the reach of that platform. but they're distinct and complimentary goals and so the substitutable one for the other. so, you know, that is certainly part of the conversation, but i think when we talk about the human rights report, we're talking about protecting the openness of the platform and the
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ability of people to exercise their rights online. >> host: well, joining us as well is lynn stanton, senior editor for "telecommunications reports," and she's our guest reporter this week. >> host: how much correlation is there between the online human rights violations and the offline? is it the same countries, um, that you have concerns about online as offline, and is the decree sort of correlated between the two spheres, if you will? >> guest: i think that as you probably would expect there is a good deal of correlation. i think probably that that speaks to the kind of inquiz about of these rights wherever they're exercised. governments that see the exercise of freedom of association as a threat to what is sometimes a regime of questionable legitimacy tend to see those things as a threat whether or not they're happening in a town square or an online chat room. and so for that reason the same
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governments that restrict rights offline tend to restrict rights online. i think, you know, there are kind of different groups. democracies also struggle with how to adapt and respond to new technology. they are often vel -- well intentioned counterparts in the variety of countries and ministries around the world who are figuring out, okay, i start with the same premise, but how do i make that real given the expansion of regs that are happen in various sectors, etc. and so, you know, they make mistakes as people do. i think there's a difference not only in the approach in terms of are we trying to shut down speech, or are we trying to facilitate an open internet. there's also a difference in kind of the openness of the conversation about, okay, how do we reckon with these new technologies, what should we do, how should we respond to the
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challenge of developing infrastructure, etc., and where those conversations are happening out in the open, mistakes when they happen, um, are corrected more easily. so there's also a correlation in the openness of the public conversation and how the internet is responding to or managed more broadly. >> host: when, and in looking at it as the state department looks at it, do you also have props sometimes and make -- problems sometimes and make the distinction some countries may be well intentioned and make a mistake, do you have trouble discertaining where it is, possibly, a legitimate mistake? there are some content rexes that are legitimate, say, copyright protection or child pornography, and i would assume sometimes legitimate excuses or reasons for restricting, are they cited by foreign governments and you struggle perhaps with determining whether or not they're, in fact, legitimate, or -- >> i think you're quite right. there is, there is kind of a set of legitimate challenges that arise as they do offline in
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terms of law enforcement or intellectual property protection. and already some governments that start from the premise that we can manage these challenges in a principled way, and it won't be easy, and there will be times where we have to make tough calls, and we're going to get criticized, and we may upon reflection realize that we took the wrong approach there and back up, rewind and try another way. and there are other governments who opportunistically harvest those legitimate rationales or objectives for quite different purposes. and part of the challenge is, yes, drawing a distinction partly so that, you know, governments that are really seeking to undermine their citizens or repress their citizens aren't, um, taking advantage of legitimate actions for law enforcement, etc., in order to justify their own nefarious behaviors. >> host: so, well, daniel baer, then how do you measure internet freedom? what are the -- what do you use
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to measure that? >> guest: uh-huh. i think that, you know, historically certainly ten years ago when the first conversations about what we now call internet freedom were emerging most of them centered on censorship, blocking access to web sites, etc. and i think in the last few years there's been partly because of, you know, secretary clinton did shine an enormous spotlight on this issue two-and-a-half years ago when she gave her first internet freedom speech, and she's given one each year since then. but we've seen an evolution in the people that conceive of the basket of internet freedom issues. it still includes censorship in a lot of places around the world, but there's still other way. there's attacks of web sites, you know, distributed denial of service or attacks that are meant to take down east -- either news sites or ngos 'so
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there's active attacks of information that's out there. there's also attacks of people offline for what they do online. somebody posts something on their facebook page, and they're tracked down and abuse inside a physical way, and that's an internet freedom issue, too, not only because that person is being punished for exercising their rights online, but also because of the fear factor that that contributes to and the self-censorship it contributes to in those societies. so i think we see merging threats like those, um, in many different contexts, and i would say that, you know, different contexts have different doses of each of those. you know, there are some places where the filtering is very strong, and the offline harassment is less so. and there's other places where the inverse is true. >> host: where are some of the most egregious -- what are some of the most egregious examples that you found worldwide when it comes to restricting the internet? >> guest: well, i think it's well known that china's
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restrictions on the internet are, are widespread, um, and, you know, one of the things we've seen not only in china, but in a number of other countries now is the kind of targeted censoring of, you know, going of after a single blog post or something like that in addition to broad filters, etc. so in term of restrictions on what content people can access, china, others -- obviously, iran and syria are terrible abusers not only in terms of using filters, but in tracking people down and abusing them for what they do online, and we're seeing that unfold in front of our eyes. but i think again, you know, each context is different. there are a number of states where it's problematic. and one of the arguments that i try to make when i'm engaging with foreign governments is about the eventual economic trade-off that states have to make when they restrict vast
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amounts of information or create an environment in which the potential of the internet as a platform for sharing and exchanging information is muted by either the fear or the self-censorship that people have. and so, you know, when i talk to governments like vietnam which has a new restriction that they're introducing that would make web sites liable for the content that users post on their sites, you know, these have commercial implications, not just human rights implications. and it's a place where a commercial interest and the human rights interest overlap quite a lot. and there's a case to be made in terms of these countries' ambitions for continued economic growth, that they really need to, um, see that an open internet is part of that formula. >> host: um, in terms of government monitoring and tracking of people's activity online, obviously, that's a precursor to their, as you say, attacking them offline or shutting down sites to which
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people are going. but is the actually monitoring and tracking a concern? do you see that as in itself a human rights violation or an area of concern or something that you don't worry about at all until it actually leads to, you know, another kind of violation? >> guest: well, i think here, too, it's important to divide into kind of different purposes for that. you know, obviously, there are countries including our own that have legitimate law enforcement interests in monitoring and tracking, that those systems are established by a democratically-elected legislature, that they're executed by the democratically-elected executive branch, that they're held in check by a judicial branch that is independent and able to review in accordance to constitutional principles. and so that broader context matters. it also matters, you know, who is being -- what the purpose is. and so it's hard in many countries where, like syria or iran where people are monitored
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and tracked, the people who are monitored and tracked are not potential terrorists but actually human rights activists who are out there criticizing or, you know, arguing against the regime, and they're not only monitored and tracked, but disappeared into black vans and never seen again, it's a very different scenario. and so i think what -- yes, to answer your question, it does matter what the intention is. and it matters to take a look at the broader context of the protections and safeguards that are in place in various places around the world. >> host: well, daniel baer, last year during the arab spring we could see that traffic in egypt just dropped, it was shut down, essentially, the internet really was shut down. are we seeing the same thing in syria, and how has egypt changed over the past year? >> guest: so in syria i think there is still internet traffic going on, but obviously there are restrictions, and the regime
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has been using technology in order to target people which is one of the reasons why the president signed a new executive order recently that allows sanctions to be put on individuals or entities that are helping the syrian or iranian regime get the kind of technology that they use to target people. but we know that it's been, it's continued to be important for the syrian people who are on the ground to tell their story to the outside world. we know from the bits of footage, etc., that is getting out how important these technologies can be to documenting and recording in this case a story of a terrible horror. in terms of egypt, you know, my understanding is that the internet is, you know, the shutdown that happened last year for several days one of the things that happened there was that it was, it wasn't sustainable to shut down, you know, cutting -- one of the lessons learned was cutting off a country that has been online and taking them offline is
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incredibly difficult to do and to sustain. and there's economic -- and there, too, i mean, i don't remember the actual figures, but i remember there were economic estimates that came out shortly thereafter about how much money had been lost in those few days of the shutdown. and so i think part of the lesson, you know, there are many lessons to take away and many, um, understandings that we won't have for several years hence, i think, of the changes that have happened in the last 18 months in the middle east. but one of the lessons we do know is that it was unsustainable to keep the internet off. >> host: um, you mentioned the executive order on the technology to syria. um, the same technology that can be used for perfectly legitimate reasons gets used for, obviously, illegitimate. and, um, is that the way to do it, just go country by country and say, okay, this country stepped over the line, so we need to by executive order stop it, or should there be some broader way of looking at how
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this technology gets exported, what kind of services u.s.-based companies provide to a foreign regime? >> guest: i think there should be a broader way, and i think that we are, um, taking a broader way. one of the reasons why the executive order was so narrowly targeted against, you know, kind of the worst of the worst was because we recognize, as you say, that this is a space, um, which is perhaps the best example of the concept of dual use where things have both a positive, potentially positive and a potentially negative purpose. and if we take as the objective that we want to limit the access of a regime to technology for the purposes of doing harm or violence or violating the rights of its citizens. but at the same time, i mean, part of the thing is not only that there are some legitimate uses for some technologies, but also the people on the ground who are trying to exercise their rights also need access to some technologies, and you don't want to catch things in the filter that they need and want in order
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to exercise their rights. and so we recognize that this is a difficult exercise and that it has to be done extremely carefully and that, you know, that's part of the reason why a couple years ago there was a clarification of the fact that free web-based software could be used in iran because one of the, part of the -- there was some confusion over whether things like gmail or skype were violations of sanctions if they went into iran. and so this is something we're, you know, always trying to be as refined as possible, and yet it will never be the entire solution. one of the things secretary clinton highlight inside the hague in december of last year was increasingly companies of -- a number of companies are really taking a lead on this, but companies on their own volition or with the urging of human rights groups and others are doing internal due diligence to
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say, you know, where is this product going, and can i predict what the use is, is there a way if i'm doing software updates, etc., is there a way i can know what the use is afterwards, and what stuff can we take to make sure that the reasons our products were created are the reasons for which they're being used and the innovations that we've developed are being used in a way that will allow us to continue to innovate and make products going forward. and so i think the role of the private -- this is a case where and putting things on blacklists, etc., is never going to be the whole solution. you actually need an engaged community that is focused on trying to maximize the good and minimize the bad on an ongoing basis and responding to the challenges as they evolve. >> host: um, you had mentioned earlier even in the u.s. you had law enforcement uses that are legitimate for filtering and monitoring. how much pushback do you get as you go out and talk to your
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counterparts in other countries about the way they look at the internet and saying, well, you know, you do this, the u.s. does this? i've heard criticisms in the debates over net neutrality and also the debate over the online piracy bills that were in congress earlier this year, um that these kinds of approaches set bad examples, um, that if, you know, we mess with the dnf look-up through the piracy stuff, that sets a bad example, and people will just say why should we do what you say when, obviously, you know, you, the u.s., are not a good practitioner of these same ideas? >> guest: i think that we can be, it's absolutely true that when on this and any human rights issue or any policy issue, obviously, when you're raising it with counterparts overseas, they -- one of the things they'll look at is what you're doing at home. and i think broadly speaking i feel, um, enormous pride in working for the administration that there's, there is a commitment across the board to
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make every effort to lead by example and a commitment to universal standards that apply to everyone, including ourselves. and this area is no exception. i think that you're right, some of the debates that have gone on in our country have revealed the difficulties of managing, um, new challenges as they arise with regard to security or intellectual property, etc. and one of the things that we can be proud of is, frankly, the way that these things are transacted in the public sphere. people debate, people start facebook campaigns, etc. they're not shut down for doing that, you know? and they have a slay underlaying politics unfold. some of these have been a textbook of genuine public engagement at the grassroots level all the way up to congress on key issues about how to manage the emergence of new technologies. when -- my response when talking
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to counterparts is, first of all, i do start from the premise that not only i, but my colleagues in other agencies who are working on these issues start from a commitment to principle and trying to figure out the practicalities, the nuts and bolts, the best way to approach these problems as members of congress. i assume they're trying to do as well. and, you know, the good news is that as we work this out, it's exposed to public scrutiny, and when criticisms come up, they're dealt with in an open way, and that's part of -- that is something that if everybody committed to that, we'd be a long way down the path. >> host: this is c-span's "communicators" program, our weekly look at technology and policy. and joining us this week is daniel baer, deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. and we are discussing the human rights report that the state department puts out every year, specifically the internet freedoms around the world. lynn stanton of
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"telecommunications daily" is our guest reporter. i'm sorry, "telecommunications reports" is our guest reporter this week. daniel baer, when it -- on the flipside how do you as a member of the state department, diplomatic community, how do you use the internet to encourage or promote human rights that the u.s. espouses? how do you, in a sense, how do you get into north korea? can you get in via the internet? >> guest: very, very few people in north korea have access to the internet, and a large portion of those are in government ministries, i would imagine. so north korea is a difficult media environment. it's one where radio broadcasts do reach people, and so there are, there is increasing demand, i think, within north korea for an opening, for the ability to access information, and it's something that we continue to, obviously, support.
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north korea's, you know, a very, very closed environment with enormous human rights violations, and, um, so we're focused on looking for the opportunities to widen the space for information and to get the north korean people information from the outside that they so earnestly want. i think in terms of your broader question about how we are using the internet, i think the story is we're using the internet not only in this space, but broadly. and part of it is because of the moment we're in where, as i said at the outset, you know, everything is increasingly happening online and through new technologies. and under the secretary there's been a concerted effort to take advantage of the opportunities for 21st century state craft to reach out to people in more places, people that we couldn't have reached for a back-and-forth conversation ten or twenty years ago we now can.
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we have twitter feeds in a number of different languages that reach a large portion of the world and allow us to have a back and forth. obviously, in 140 characters per exchange or less, but allow us to have a back and forth on a variety of topics, not just on human rights, but on a variety of topics. and i think, you know, it comes at a good time because secretary clinton has also placed enormous focus on connecting not only our foreign policy to governments, but to people in other cub countries. she gave a speech in crack cow two years ago -- krakow where she talked about the importance of being part of supports a healthy democracy, and she as she travels the world makes a concerted effort to hold round tables or town halls or meetings with civil society activists and citizens wherever she goes. and these new technologies give us an ability to allow her to interact with people virtually as well as a lot of folks in the
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state department and in our embassies around the world to keep engaged in their communities, etc. you know, i visited vietnam earlier this year and did an event with students at the american center in hanoi, and, you know, they can borrow ipads and kindles, and they can, um, access american news sites, and they interact on facebook and other social networking sites, and it allows us to have o -- and they're having conversations about current events in the world, etc. so it allows us to sort of keep an ongoing conversation and a really robust and interesting and, obviously, contemporary way. >> host: so do you think if your office is sending tweets out in farsi or your state department web site facebook page, are those blocked in iran? can those be accessed? >> guest: there are, we know that there are, that people in various places have trouble accessing the state department web site. they have sometimes peculiar trouble accessing the human
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rights reports. it turns out that those aren't always popular publications with other governments. so, yes, they can be blocked. but, you know, oneover the other parts of -- one of the other parts of this policy that secretary clinton has outlined has been a concerted effort to help equip people to navigate the blocks and the hardships, the threats that are brought against them. so we have, um, given $76 million of grants in the last few years, and we'll by the end of this year be at 100 million to programs, yapts, to ngos and others who are working on tools and training and research that help us empower citizens to, um, exercise their rights wherever they may be in as safe a way possible online and through new technologies. so i know that while iran does take enormous steps to limb its citizens' -- limit its citizens' access to the internet, there are people who get information and who share it inside iran as
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well. so i hope that people know, um, i hope that there are people who can access the messages, um, and the information that we're sharing, and i hope that certainly that they know that we care about their condition. >> host: so, for example, who would be getting those granteds? >> guest: we actually don't talk publicly about who exactly they are, but there are ngos. you know, there's been, there's another kind of new thing. fife -- phi or ten years ago there weren't ngos working in this space, and there has been an incubation over the last few years, kind of a silicon valley of civil rights. i call them geeks with a conscience, these people at the intersection of human rights activism and new technologies and who are coming up with the tools who allow activists to communicate with each other with greater degree of anonymity who come up with tools like there's one that allows you to press a button on your cell phone that
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wipes out your address book so that if you get picked up off the street, they can't go after all your friends which is what has happened. we developed these programs in response to the emerging threats that we see in a virty of contexts. and -- variety of contexts. we talk to activists as much as we can. we try to identify what new bad things governments are trying to do to people and figure out ways to help them protect themselves. and often times the greatest protection is kind of what i call a digital self-defense where, you know, they need to know the kinds of spear fishing or fall ware that -- malware that governments are trying to get onto their computers. so a lot of it is kind of self-defense training as well which has to be passed through kind of underground railroads of trust to get to people who need it most. but we've trained over 7,000 activists around the world in the last few years. >> host: is the reason you don't announce who's getting these grants, is it because you're concerned about their safety, or


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