This Global Online Freedom Act of 2011 is intended to prevent United States businesses from cooperating with repressive governments in transforming the Internet into a tool of censorship and surveillance, to fulfill the responsibility of the United States to promote freedom of expression on the Internet, to restore public confidence in the integrity of United States businesses.[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]
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Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04)
This bill was introduced on April 6, 2011 and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and its Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, as well as the Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
The measure would prohibit the export of hardware and software that can be used to block and track communications sent over the Internet. In addition, it would require companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission how they conduct due diligence on human rights issues, as well as how customer information is shared with repressive countries.
The export of surveillance gear to such countries as Iran and Syria has come under increasing scrutiny by human rights groups and government officials. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on technology companies in a Dec. 8 speech to make “good decisions” about how and whether to do business involving nations that may use the equipment or software against their citizens.
Senator Smith introduced his bill after the European Union on Dec. 2 2011 adopted new sanctions on Syria, restricting the supply of technology that the EU measure said was “primarily for use in the monitoring or interception” of Internet or phone communications.
Text of the Bill