In a recent speech titled “Remarks on Internet Freedom,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Internet was now an integral part of US foreign policy. “Some countries,” Clinton said, making a thinly veiled reference to China, “have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks,” while the US stands for “a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.” Although the technology of networked computers has its origins in military research, all this cold war-style rhetoric over Internet access would have come as a big surprise to anyone using the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. That Internet was very different: a place for meek computer science professors, adventurous home coders, and moms and pops who just wanted to say “Welcome to My Homepage.” It was not a place in which two superpowers did battle. What to make of this transformation?
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