Bill Introduced To Pressure Countries That Seek To Break The Internet

from the sounds-good-in-theory... dept

Rep. Zoe Lofgren along with a list of other Congressional reps (from both parties) is introducing a new bill called the One Global Internet Act of 2010 (pdf), which is basically targeted at countries — like Afghanistan and Pakistan — that are seeking to block large parts of the internet from access, as well as countries like China, which for many years has tried to introduce its own, incompatible, standards for things like WiFi, DVDs, 3G cellular connections and more. The argument in the document is that for there to be a truly functioning internet, it shouldn’t fragment across countries due to blockades or differing standards:

I definitely appreciate the sentiment, but I do wonder how useful or effective something like this really could be. If countries want to block themselves off from the internet, or want to set up incompatible standards that break them off from cheaper technologies and more powerful connections, then, why not let them do so? It creates a lot more damage for them than it does for the rest of the internet. Yes, it may make things a bit difficult for US companies looking to work in those regions, but I’m always a little nervous about any sort of law that suggests the US can or should waltz into some other country and tell them how they need to act.

And, honestly, a lot of what it sounds like is in this bill seems to mimic what’s found in copyright legislation that has turned the US into the world’s copyright bully. It asks for the USTR to put together a “list” of problematic countries — which sounds like the highly flawed and damaging USTR Special 301 process for copyright. It also talks about changing foreign government behavior through trade policy. But, again, that sounds like the disastrous setup of the USTR on copyright, where it has forced through awful “free trade” agreements that actually set up restrictive and protectionist copyright laws, and more recently has brought us ACTA.

While I do agree that these countries mucking with local internet access and standards represents a challenge, I’m not convince that appointing the US to be a standards bully necessarily is such a good idea. It seems like it could have pretty bad unintended consequences.

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Comments on “Bill Introduced To Pressure Countries That Seek To Break The Internet”

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Rooker (user link) says:

Don't throw stones in a glass house

I applaud the sentiment (some of it… sorta), but we have little room to talk. The US collectively and several states individually are always trying to force some twisted religious fundamentalist ideal of morality on the internet. Just a few months ago, Kentucky tried to hijack a whole domain name because they didn’t like the website.

And if they want to bring up the Great Firewall, who built that? Take a close look at the firewalls – you’ll see the name “Cisco” stamped on most of them. If the govt wants to actually try to stop net censorship, maybe they should do something about that, where they actually have authority.

Paul Hobbs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m sorry – I can’t let this one go. In what way did America “build” the internet? What does that even mean? Did America single-handedly create the system of interconnected computer networks which constitute the “Internet”? Granted, America (along with the Brits) developed the first computer networks ( – in particular, note the work of Donald Davies at the UK National Physical Laboratory). But the Internet as most people experience it – the World Wide Web – was invented by another Pom – Tim Berners-Lee; and was “built” by dozens of countries and corporations. I’m not sure it is even valid to say that anyone “built” the Internet – I think it is more appropriate to say it grew or evolved, almost organically.

This comment reminds me of a comment I heard made by another American a number of years ago that WW2 didn’t start until December 1941 when America declared war on Japan.

mhenriday (profile) says:

One of the privileges that a million million (10^12) dollars annually

appropriated to the military from the pockets of US taxpayers buys members of that country’s Congress is the fond illusion that their legislative powers do not stop at the country’s borders, but extend throughout the globe – and presumably the rest of the Universe as well (and to any parallel universes that may exist). They seem to have forgotten that the main reason adduced by the rebel movement in the Thirteen British Colonies on North America’s East Coast for forswearing allegiance to the British Crown was that legislation regulating those colonies had been adopted without the participation of representatives of their residents. How many representatives of the residents of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China are presently found in the US Congress (given that the state of Israel does seem to be exceedingly well represented there, legislation regarding that particular country cannot, of course, be regarded as an anomaly or a casus belli) ?…


Mickey Mouse says:

It's a CIA conspiracy

“I definitely appreciate the sentiment, but I do wonder how useful or effective something like this really could be. If countries want to block themselves off from the internet, or want to set up incompatible standards that break them off from cheaper technologies and more powerful connections, then, why not let them do so?”

Ahhhhh but then that would interfere with the CIA controlling and manipulating the world media for the benefit of multinational corporations.

It’s estimated 90% of the CIA’s budget goes towards controlling media internationally. And… there not doing it to help the poor!

John Rigali says:

responses to several comments

I generally have to agree with Mike: I prefer that other countries not tamper with or block the Internet, but if those countries “go rogue”, the consequences are – and should be – mostly upon themselves. If America ever had any ability to police such activity, it lost that ability no later than 1991, when the Internet “went public”. The only other entity that is in a position to police such activity is the United Nations, which IMHO has demonstrated itself to be ineffective, corrupt, and politically progressive to the point of idiocy.

And even if I wanted to express favor for The One Global Internet Act of 2010, just the mere fact that Zoe Lofgren’s ( ) name is on it makes me want to throw it in a crisscut paper shredder!

Rooker: I would characterize those attempts as being brought about by various groups of politicians, not entire geopolitical entities or even the entire governments thereof. And some people might debate your use of the terms “twisted” and “religious fundamentalist”.

Rooker (again): Are you implying that Cisco is a secret source of net censorship simply because it’s the primary vendor supplying the Great Firewall?

Anonymous Coward: America never could and never will literally own the Internet. Are you being facetious?

Wolfy: We were not bloody idiots to give up control over the Internet. We never had full control over it.

mhenriday: Do you really think that all 535 members of the American Congress “buy” that illusion? I’ll agree that many members do (and I think Zoe Lofgren is one of them), but not every single one, and probably not even the majority of them.

mhenriday (again): I submit to you that various representatives of the residents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and China chose quite some time ago to act primarily in venues outside of Congress. Furthermore, it’s possible that some of those representatives are lobbyists that try to appeal to American congressmen – don’t you agree? As for Israel, it’s an “oasis” in a “desert” of hostility directed at it that it didn’t intentionally foster, and it furthermore has been an excellent ally of America since Harry Truman was America’s president (although it appears to me that Barack Obama has the same misgivings about Israel that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had).

crade: The Digital Millenium Copyright Act does not particularly make vulnerable (or more vulnerable) any American entities that provide any significant part of the Internet’s infrastructure. From what I can tell, it does broaden the array of legal attacks that various Internet-dependent business entities can launch at each other. IMHO, the DMCA is a well-intentioned concept that was brought to fruition in a very bad condition.

Mickey Mouse: Can you offer anything to substantiate your conspiracy theory?

Paul Hobbs: I think Wolfy is referring to ARPANET’s place in the history of the Internet. It can be argued that another packing-switching network could’ve been the “seed” of the Internet, but anyone that reads should understand that ARPANET was that “seed”.

annony says:

It’s interesting that USA would complain about other countries setting up different standards – what about the differing standards USA has/is using in
1. Cell phones – different frequencies than EU and other countries [hence 4G phones] and CDMA etc phones are not usable globally
2. In the past NTSC format was unique to USA

I am sure there are plenty of ways different countries use technology to create differences. Why should 1 country decide what others should do? I think if anyone wants technology to be the same across the board then discuss why it should be the same and the pros and cons for it.

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