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Dan Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

April 19, 2010 by George W. Bush Presidential Center

Dan Baer, who is currently the highest official at State with a democracy and human rights portfolio, made a number of interesting points about the U.S. administration’s view of human rights, defending freedom, and the use of cyber tools. One of his constant themes was “safety” – and the need for government to ensure that people are safe on the Internet, for whatever purpose they use cyber tools. Government’s role, in his view, is to “identify technologies,” that would make sure people are safe, to train people to use online tools “in difficult places,” and the like. He also wanted to lay out some themes. The current Administration, he implied, sees the value of the Internet as providing “voice and choice – a voice to ideas and choice among ideas.” These two objectives are “fundamental to democracy and to market capitalism. People have to be able to transfer ideas and to choose among ideas.” In a sense, he indicated that his Administration’s view is that government can choose among technologies and the ways that technology is used, but that it must be careful not to choose in other ways – choose between fundamental values, for example. So his Administration’s keen awareness of certain inherent tensions seemed to indicate constraints upon its willingness to act. Baer spoke specifically about the tension between the ideal of “freedom of expression and the danger of expressing hatred or inciting violence; between privacy and security; and between sharing information and protecting intellectual property. A most interesting presentation by a man who has a deep commitment to democracy – “this is who we are.” I will post the audio from this, the Conference’s last session, on the Conference’s highlights page in the next day.


George W. Bush Presidential Center



As the 13th presidential library, the Bush Library and Museum promotes an understanding of the American presidency, examines the specific time in history during which President Bush served, and provides access to official records and artifacts from the Bush Administration.



The Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization that cultivates leaders, fosters policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges, and takes action to save and change lives. Our work is inspired by the principles that guide President and Mrs. Bush in public life.

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