Secretary of State Clinton's historic speech on 21st Century Statecraft elevated the Internet as a full-blown tool of diplomacy and human freedom. In taking the bold step to put Internet freedom squarely in the center of US foreign policy, U.S. policies have been put in the spotlight as well.
Those efforts to bolster America's moral authority on Internet freedom are endangered or at very least, contradicted, by moves such as this current FBI proposal.
As we've seen in the recent kerfuffle between BlackBerry and foreign governments, everyone points to the U.S. government surveillance record as political (and moral) justification for tougher surveillance mandates. If this FBI proposal is allowed to go forward, any future attempt by the State Department to call out a country's new surveillance mandates will fall on deaf ears. Internet freedom begins at home and the U.S. must lead by example. We can start by putting this proposal aside and looking for solutions that better reflect our values.
Leslie Harris is president and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology.