The Global Online Freedom Act (H.R. 3605) was approved this week by a House human rights panel. This legislation would require the U.S. State Department to publicly identify foreign governments that restrict Internet use. It would put in place measures to deter U.S. businesses from selling technology or equipment that could be used for Internet spying or censoring in such nations.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), this bill’s sponsor, declared, “China, Vietnam and Iran are the world’s biggest prisons for netizens. But other countries are not lagging far behind. Sadly, it’s through the assistance of Western companies and technology – and this includes American companies and technology – that governments like those of Iran, China, Syria, and many other countries are transforming the Internet into a ‘weapon of mass surveillance.’”
Yahoo! has joined human rights groups in supporting this measure, and it has attracted two cosponsors: Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations