SECRETARY CLINTON: I want to thank Alec and Katie and everybody from the State Department team who are here as part of this tech camp. Alec Ross has been my right hand on all that we’re doing on internet freedom, and then the actual, practical day-to-day work that you’re talking about here. And I have to just thank you for being part of this tech camp. How many tech camps have we run now, Alec?
MR. ROSS: This is the third.
SECRETARY CLINTON: This is the third. And what we are finding as we do these around the world – because we had – didn’t we have a tech camp in Indonesia?
MR. ROSS: We did.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s almost miraculous, the way people come together to meet each other, to truly network in person as well as electronically. And then not so long after, there were these terrible mudslides and awful catastrophes in Indonesia, and the people who’d been at the tech camp put together a network to be able to bring relief supplies and help families get connected up with one another. So whether it’s Indonesia or it’s Haiti or it’s Lithuania, we believe that creating these opportunities to empower all of you with whatever information and ideas we can put on the table is a very important part of how we support civil society.
I think any society needs three strong legs, if you think about a society as a stool. You need open, responsive, accountable, effective government. You need open, free, dynamic markets. And you need creative, innovative, persistent civil society. And one of those missing means you’re not going to have what you need. If you have a government that doesn’t work, or you have a market that doesn’t empower people, or you have a civil society that is oppressed, you won’t get the maximum benefit that every society should be able to provide to individuals so that each individual can live up to his or her own God-given potential.
So I don’t want to interrupt the work you’re doing because that’s what you’re here for. And it’s not only to look at charts like that – (laughter) – but to look at each other, and to meet each other, and to bring solidarity with each other in order to maximize your impact and those with whom you work as we keep moving toward a world where we have more freedom, more democracy, more opportunity and equality.
So with that, I’m going to ask Alec to come back here. He’s the guy who’s actually leading our efforts. And one of the things that we’re doing is not only these tech camps but also coming up with new apps, new technology, new ways of empowering you. And we know very well that for every advance in technology that you can make as individuals, there are forces that will also try to undermine that and will try to use the very same tools as a means of subverting and repressing. So we have to add to our numbers and we have to be willing to keep coming up with new ways of getting over, under, around, and through the walls and other techniques that are used to prevent people from freely communicating.
Those of you who know something about our country and our Constitution know that we enshrined in our First Amendment freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. I don’t think George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, as smart as they were, could have imagined the internet, but the basic value and principle remains the same. Just as meeting in a physical place should be available, so should meeting on the internet be made available, and that’s why I made internet freedom one of the highest priorities of my time as Secretary of State.
So thank you all for being part of what is truly a movement, a global movement. And I’ll turn it back to Alec and to his team from the State Department, and I’ll look forward to hearing some stories about what came out of this tech camp the way I heard about it from the other tech camps that we’ve had. Thank you all very much.
TechCamp Vilnius will be the third event in a series supporting Secretary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative to build the digital literacy of civil society organizations around the world. TechCamp is a key program of this initiative: a two day training event through which the State Department pairs leaders in the technology community with civil society organizations to provide training, resources and assistance that enable civil society organizations to harness the latest connection technologies to build their capacity and advance their missions.
From June 29-30, 2011 TechCamp Vilnius will focus on convening over 70 civil society groups working in the areas of democracy, transparency, and citizen engagement. Representing more than 15 countries from across Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia, participants will get hands-on training in a variety of areas ranging from how to use social media, organize online, practice digital safety, leverage mobile applications, and more. These civil society groups will be poised to use connection technologies to grow their networks, communicate more efficiently and be able to keep pace with the changing world.
Announcing Civil Society 2.0, Secretary Clinton said, “This organized effort will provide new technologies to civil society organizations. We will send experts in digital technology and communications to help build capacity.”
TechCamp will be hosted on the margins of the Community of Democracies, and will send an important message about our commitment and support for democracy and 21st Century Statecraft. As these tools build new networks, relationships and create new avenues for communication, civil societies’ adoption of them and use in support of democracy, transparency and good governance are integral to moving forward in the 21st century.
Following Vilnius there is a TechCamp planned in Moldova in July focusing on open government. For more information about Civil Society 2.0, TechCamps or hosting a future TechCamp, visit http://techcampglobal.org/.