Web Access Is New Clinton Doctrine

The U.S. plans to make unrestricted access to the Internet a top foreign-policy priority, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to announce Thursday.

The announcement, which has been scheduled for weeks, comes in the wake of accusations last week that Chinese hackers penetrated Google Inc.’s (GOOG) computer networks. The attack, which also targeted Chinese dissidents, is the kind of issue Mrs. Clinton aims to address, said Alec Ross, a senior adviser.

The growing role of the Internet in foreign policy became clear last year during protests in Iran after allegations of election fraud. The government tried to crack down on protesters’ Internet communications, but they circumvented digital blockades to send out video and Twitter messages about violence against demonstrators.

In one new initiative, the State Department plans to offer financial support to grass-roots movements that promote Internet freedom, Mr. Ross said.

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