US lawmakers seek action on Internet freedom

March 9, 2010
People surfing the internet at a cafe in Beijing. US lawmakers from the two major parties on Tuesday issued a joint call for government action to ensure Internet freedom overseas amid alarm at China's cyber-censorship.

US lawmakers from the two major parties on Tuesday issued a joint call for government action to ensure Internet freedom overseas amid alarm at China's cyber-censorship.

Democratic Representative David Wu and Republican Representative Chris Smith announced they were inviting lawmakers into a bipartisan Global Internet Freedom Caucus to help push forward legislation.

Wu, a Chinese American from Oregon, said he was introducing legislation to set up a government-backed Foundation to award competitive grants for researchers to develop technology to circumvent censorship.

"While the spread of digital media technology is a tremendous force for good, it also faces a number of threats from those who seek to control information, quell dissent and censor non-violent free expression," Wu said.

"In an ever-changing digital world, we must work together to appeal to the better angels of our nature and strive not just for prosperity, but for freedom," he said.

Smith is the author of another bill being considered by Congress, the Global Online Freedom Act, that would prohibit US firms from assisting in cyber-censorship overseas.

If approved, employees of IT companies could face prison in the United States if they knowingly give information to a foreign government that causes a person to be harmed for peacefully expressing political or religious beliefs.

"It's become very clear -- and Google's recent difficulties in China underline this -- that IT companies are not powerful enough to stand up to repressive governments," Smith said.

"Without US government support, they are inevitably forced to play a role in the repressive government's censorship and surveillance," the New Jersey congressman said.

in January said it would no longer cooperate with China and consider pulling out of the fast-growing market after discovering attacks against dissidents' email accounts.

Explore further: Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft urged not to censor search

Related Stories

U.S. calls for fall of Great Firewall

February 16, 2006

Lawmakers voiced concern over U.S. Internet companies fostering censorship in China in order to secure a place in the lucrative Chinese market.

Yahoo! summit champions human rights online

May 6, 2009

Human rights trump doing business, Yahoo! chief executive Carol Bartz insisted at a summit of Internet allies combining forces to battle censorship by oppressive regimes.

Google, Yahoo zero in on Internet 'freedom' bill

November 24, 2009

Google Inc. and other Internet companies have zeroed in on a resilient effort by a Republican lawmaker to pass legislation that could restrict their ability to take a nuanced approach to operating in "repressive" foreign ...

The Web: Free speech -- for Chinese admen

February 15, 2006

Commercial speech on the Internet -- marketing and advertising -- does not seem to be subject to the same strict censorship standards that political speech is in China, and today, most surprisingly for Westerners, exists ...

Recommended for you


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 10, 2010
Government will help with installing software on your computer.

Russians are impressed:
5 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2010
I'm sick of on-line criminals getting a free lunch. Any government that cracks down on internet crime in OK with me.

Sophisticated experts are fooled by bank-account spoofs, ID scams, job-offer pretexts, get-rick quick BS, and it will only get worse.

Lets see how much ass kicking China can do, then see how many of these thieves live in our own backyard.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.