Google's announcement that it has stopped censoring results from its Chinese search engine has captured global attention, but developments on the Internet freedom front are coming fast and furious. In recent months, the U.S. administration removed sanctions on Internet-related exports to Iran, Sudan, and Cuba; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an important speech on cyberfreedom; and Congress gave funding assistance to cyberdissidents in Iran and China. This week the Senate will launch a Global Internet Freedom Caucus, and more such efforts are likely in coming months. All this is premised on the hypothesis that more Internet freedom leads to more political freedom. Does it?
Autocracies certainly seem to think so. During last year's protests in Iran, the regime not only blocked opposition Web sites and engaged in online efforts to track down dissidents, but also slowed down all Internet service throughout the country. China famously censors Web sites through the so-called "Great Firewall," and other countries—including Tunisia, Burma and Cuba—have followed Beijing's lead.
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