Sunday, May 04, 2008

H.R. 275: Global Online Freedom Act of 2007

H.R. 275's official purpose: "To promote freedom of expression on the Internet, to protect United States businesses from coercion to participate in repression by authoritarian foreign governments, and for other purposes."

H.R. 275 would authorize a new Office of Global Internet Freedom within the Department of State, which would:
  • Coordinate interagency efforts to promote abroad the free flow of electronic information on the Internet,
  • Fight efforts by foreign governments to restrict Internet use,
  • Identify, update, and publicize a list of key words, terms, and phrases related to human rights, democracy, religious freedom, and political dissent,
  • Consult with technology companies, human rights organizations, and academic experts on new information technologies to develop a voluntary code of corporate standards for the free flow of electronic information, and
  • Provide pertinent information to the Secretary of State for reports on human rights practices, security assistance, and countries that restrict Internet use.

Sponsor: Rep. Christopher Smith [R-NJ]

This bill may undergo significant changes in markup sessions. A budget report is available for this bill from the Congressional Budget Office:
  • On Ars Technica:"...There are just a couple of catches that make this bill not quite as great as Smith and the handful of human rights groups that support it make it out to be. For one, the term "legitimate law enforcement" is extremely vague, and is left up to the US Department of Justice to decided on a case-by-case basis. If complying with the requests of law enforcement officials to turn over information on what they consider illegal in specific countries does not count as legitimate, then what does, exactly?
    Secondly, you guessed it—the bill has a convenient exit plan for anyone who tries to apply its rules to the United States. ..."
  • On Slashdot:
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