Science, Tech & Environment

Global online freedom act

It's called the Global Online Freedom Act and it's sponsored by Republican Congress Chris Smith of New Jersey. Smith has been working on the legislation for three years and he says it started by him looking at human rights violations in China. He says he realized that US tech companies were assisting the Chinese in their violations. The centerpiece of the legislation is the creation of an office of Global Internet Freedom at the US State Department, which would designate countries on a yearly basis as internet restricting and then prohibit US companies from supplying those countries with the means of collecting and monitoring personal info. Smith says that would send a strong message to countries like China. two of those allegedly tortured in Chinese prisons used the internet to criticize Beijing and used services provided by Yahoo! in China. This analyst led a lawsuit against Yahoo! in US federal court seeking damages for the families of those Chinese activists, which Yahoo! eventually settled even though they Yahoo! said they were obligated to hand over the info under Chinese law. The analyst says the Global online Freedom Act would no longer make that an excuse. But he says the measure has its faults: he's worried about the President having a final say on whether a country is internet restricting. Of course there are plenty of schools and libraries in America that restrict use of internet. This analyst says the US may find itself violating its own law if this passes.

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