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New US bill stops businesses from aiding communism

After branding Internet companies Google and Yahoo as tools of China's communist government, the US Congress passed a new bill today prohibiting US businesses from aiding Internet-restricting countries in the censorship of online content.

The "Global Online Freedom Act of 2006", introduced in the House of Representatives by Republican Representative Chris Smith, who chairs a House subcommittee on human rights, and several other lawmakers aims "to promote freedom of expression on the Internet".

The measure also aimed to "protect United States businesses from coercion to participate in repression by authoritarian foreign governments."

The bill's introduction came one day after House lawmakers summoned executives from Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Google to Congress for a hearing on China's censorship of online information.

The legislation would "prohibit any United States businesses from cooperating with officials of Internet-restricting countries in effecting the political censorship of online content," according to a draft of the legislation.

It also aims to promote the flow of "free and uncensored information" on the Internet, including in countries like China, where the government recently has intensified a crackdown on dissident Internet traffic.

The legislation states that "the rapid provision of full and uncensored information through the Internet has become a major industry of the United States, and one of its major exports," and that "political censorship of the Internet degrades the quality of that service and ultimately threatens the integrity and viability of the industry itself, both in the United States and abroad."

In addition to China, the bill says it aims to counter online censorship by the governments of Belarus, Cuba, Iran, Libya, the Maldives and Myanmar, among other countries.

"Technology companies in the United States that operate in countries controlled by authoritarian foreign governments have a responsibility to comply with the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the legislation said.

The bill would work with the US State Department "to support, promote, and strengthen principles, practices, and values that promote the free flow of information."

Date posted: February 17, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 8