A few days ago Hillary Clinton made a major speech about internet freedom. She said:
On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the First Amendment to our Constitution are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone.
One step towards that would be to fix the various impediments the US puts on accessing data, including from Middle Eastern countries. Take SourceForge, one of the most important repositories of open-source software in the world, where developers collaborate on building all sorts of tools, including the kind that might facilitate evading internet censorship. It turns out that since early this month it's been blocked in various countries including Iran, Syria, Sudan as well as other places upon which Washington has imposed sanctions.
Arab Crunch has a post by Abdelrahman Iblidi, a Syrian programmer, criticizing the legislation that forces SourceForge to ban users from these countries and others (Cuba, North Korea.) Syrian developers have had similar problems before with Google Code and other US-hosted sites. This example of internet censorship is particularly grating because open-source technology has often provided solutions to go around internet censorship and protect user privacy, such as Tor.
[I was alerted to this issue thanks to a tweet by one of the Egyptian blogosphere's leading open-source advocate, Alaa].