Speaking on Thursday in Washington DC, Clinton said the spread of information networks was ‘forming a new nervous system for our planet’ and had created an unprecedented number of ways to spread ideas, but that censorship and the use of the internet to find and penalise dissidents in some countries had seen a ‘spike’ in the past year.
The secretary of state’s words prompted condemnation from state-controlled newspapers in China, which said the US was trying to impose its cultural values on the rest of the world.
On 12 January, Google said its systems and those of dozens more companies had been attacked from within China, resulting in the theft of intellectual property and the attempted hacking of Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human-rights activists.
The news drew condemnation from the US government as well as also European Commission representatives, who called the attacks a violation of free speech.
‘The Berlin Wall symbolised a