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.