President at State Department: We'll Push Back on Efforts to Control Internet

President Barack Obama Wednesday defended journalists and said he was "disturbed by efforts to control the Internet," adding: "We will continue to push back on these efforts."

That came in a press conference following the U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, where the President appeared to be talking about efforts abroad at Internet control.

On Tuesday, speaking at the forum, the President talked about network neutrality at home, but Wednesday the response was to a question about journalists being oppressed in Africa and elsewhere.

The President said that although government leaders don’t always like it, "the media plays a crucial role in assuring people they have the proper information to evaluate policies that their leaders are pursuing."

He said the U.S. has been "very consistent" in pushing governments in Africa and elsewhere in the world "to respect the right of journalists to practice their trade as a critical part of civil society and a critical part of any democratic norm."

He called for the release of Al Jazeera journalists being held in Egypt and said he was troubled by some of the laws around the world that "seem to restrict" the ability of journalists to do their jobs.

"We have also been disturbed by efforts to control the Internet. Part of what has happened over the last decade or two is that new media and new technology allows people to get information that previously would never have been accessible or only to a few specialists. And now, people can pull up information that is relevant to their own lives and their own societies and communities. So, we are going to continue to push back on these efforts."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.