Politics

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
censorship, congress, liability



Bill Would Make Tech Companies Liable For Helping Censor The Internet In Other Countries

from the what-about-censoring-in-the-US? dept

A US Congressional Representative has introduced a new bill that would make it illegal for US tech companies to assist any foreign country in attempting to censor the internet or in handing over data on users to the government except for "legitimate foreign law enforcement purposes." This is targeted at companies such as Cisco, which has supplied some of the technology used in the Great Firewall of China, as well as Yahoo! which got into some hot water for supposedly handing over information to Chinese authorities on some critics of the Chinese government.

While the goal is certainly admirable, the implementation is troublesome. First, it's putting liability on tech companies for something they may not have much knowledge about (how countries are going to use the tech or whether the info is needed for "legitimate foreign law enforcement purposes."). Furthermore, where this is really hypocritical is that the law apparently does not apply to the US as well. While certainly not as bad as some other nations, the US has certainly requested data for questionable reasons, and has also been seen trying to censor parts of the internet at times. While I'm certainly not equating the efforts of US politicians to filter the internet with massive operations such as those seen in China, implementing this type of legislation does seem a bit hypocritical.

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  1. identicon
    Jake, 30 Apr 2008 @ 7:43pm

    Nice gesture, I suppose, but 'legitimate law enforcement' is such a subjective concept that they might as well have not bothered; the difference between the Tibetan independence movement and, say, NORAID* is ultimately a question of perspective.






    * Incidentally, NORAID is probably a pretty good reason why the United States government should think twice before making unilateral value judgements. Someone might have an inconveniently long memory.

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