Originally published: April 5, 2010
Last updated: April 5, 2010 - 9:15pm
It has been four years since Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) first introduced a bill that in part would penalize Web companies that turn over information to Internet-censoring countries. But he now thinks the Global Online Freedom Act now faces "very good" prospects for passage in 2010.
"It's an idea whose time is right now, it's come," stressed Smith, a co-founder of his chamber's Global Internet Freedom Caucus. "We've proven our point beyond any reasonable doubt." According to Smith, that point is simple: Companies that abide by free speech and expression rules domestically should not be so quick to censor their content abroad. Consequently, his bill would address that concern by levying stiff penalties on companies whose Web practices result in the detention or torture of Web protesters. Moreover, the legislation would establish the Office of Global Internet Freedom as part of the State Department to identify and monitor countries that repress online speech. According to Smith, a number of lawmakers have recently expressed support for his efforts, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whom Smith described to as "very interested" in his proposal.
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