- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A senior State Department official on Wednesday urged foreign governments considering curbs on Internet freedoms “don’t shoot the instant messenger.”

Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, made the comment during a conference on technology sponsored by the New America Foundation, where he voiced the Obama administration’s view of the Internet as a “game-changing human rights issue of our time.

Mr. Posner said foreign governments that employ restrictive firewalls, limited bandwidths and censorship policies are chipping away at their political credibility.

“These are the acts of governments that fear their own people,” he said. “They expose their own lack of legitimacy.”

The U.S. government should protect the Internet as a space for citizens to build stronger relationships with their governments and civil societies, he added.

“I don’t think it’s the answer to everything, but I do think it’s so much part of the solution,” Mr. Posner said.