Google wants help, casts censorship as trade barrier issue

Rebecca MacKinnon, visiting fellow from Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy, said there isn’t a silver bullet solution to securing Internet freedom while also protecting crucial communications networks.

“We need to be honest, we’re not perfect — the whole point of democracy is that we are always arguing about our imperfections,” she said.

“I don’t think you ever can strike an exact balance that satisfies everybody. If you lock down the system in a way that prevents all crime from happening, you have a police state,” she said. “The Internet is an extension of our political lives; you cannot have an absolute solution to this question, and if we try, we’re going to kill freedom."

Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee Chairman Jerry Berman also weighed in on the debate, advocating the active role of the U.S. government while establishing the role of "netizens" in combating threats to Internet freedom.

“I agree that the government should be a facilitator in this and should facilitate the conversation, but this cannot be won except by the Internet community,” he said. “It may not happen overnight, but unless netizens unite, we will lose this struggle.”

Google’s Davidson added, “It would be ironic and a little sad if some of these challenges were used as an excuse to turn the Internet into a technology of control, rather than a technology of freedom.”