Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Government Politics

Bill Would Bar US Companies From Net Censorship 309

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the accountability-may-make-a-comeback-after-all dept.
Meredith writes "A bill that would penalize companies for assisting repressive regimes in censoring the Internet may finally be headed to a vote. The Global Online Freedom Act 'would not only prevent companies like Yahoo from giving up the goods to totalitarian regimes, but would also prohibit US-based Internet companies from blocking online content from US government or government-financed web sites in other countries.' Unfortunately, there's also a giant loophole: the president would be allowed to waive the provisions of the Act for national security purposes."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bill Would Bar US Companies From Net Censorship

Comments Filter:
  • by monxrtr (1105563) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:11PM (#23277558)
    $150,000 per violation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Nos. (179609)
      Maybe you should RTFA:
      "If the companies violate any of these new restrictions, they could face civil and criminal penalties of up to $2 million"
    • by ultranova (717540)

      $150,000 per violation.

      And by "per violation", it of course means "per blocked connection attempt".

      Anyway, this actually seems to be a good law. Has Hell frozen over ?

  • So.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tuoqui (1091447) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:12PM (#23277568) Journal
    It looks like this law applies only if the totalitarian regime is not your own? Considering the way things are going I wouldn't be surprised if the US became a totalitarian state sooner or later.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by piojo (995934)
      Well, national security can be important, believe it or not. If somebody posted the floor plan and guard rotations for a large water processing plant, would you really want a law that said nobody could tell them to take down the information?

      I think that requiring the president himself to okay the exceptions is a good way to keep them in check. Not that I trust his judgement, but the government shouldn't start censoring like crazy, because the president has better things to do with his time than sign censors
      • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by calebt3 (1098475) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:28PM (#23277792)
        And the President can't claim ignorance when it happens.
        • by _KiTA_ (241027)

          And the President can't claim ignorance when it happens.
          This president doesn't claim ignorance. He claims divine providence.

          We KNOW he's breaking the law, but who's going to be the one who stands up to throw the first stone? So far, no one's doing it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hpa (7948)

            We KNOW he's breaking the law, but who's going to be the one who stands up to throw the first stone? So far, no one's doing it.

            Actually, quite a few are stepping up (including the ACLU), but with half the population believing the propaganda wing of the Republican Party, a.k.a. Fox News, is actually a news source, it's hard to get through to enough people to make a difference. At this point, the best bet is pretty much to make him do as little damage as possible before he gets thrown out. He certainly h

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NiteShaed (315799)
          The President doesn't have to claim ignorance, he embodies it.
      • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:49PM (#23278098)

        Well, national security can be important, believe it or not. If somebody posted the floor plan and guard rotations for a large water processing plant, would you really want a law that said nobody could tell them to take down the information?
        Actually, I would. What you're defending is the real-world version of security through obscurity. If knowing the floor plan and guard rotations of a water plant is sufficient for a person with ill intent to gain access, then the security situation at this water plant is insufficient. Physical security must be designed just like computer security: it works even against someone who knows exactly HOW the system works.
        • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by piojo (995934) on Friday May 02, 2008 @03:04PM (#23278312)
          Security by obscurity is bad, but there are two large holes in what you said:

          1) Good security can be effectively supplemented by obscurity. No security system is perfect, and it's perfectly reasonable to make the system harder for an outsider to understand. (Please don't bring up the Open Source argument. A water purification plant isn't a fun software project, and people don't augment that type of security system for fun.)

          2) You just advocated allowing somebody to broadcast, "Come poison this well! Here's most of the information you need to kill thousands/millions of people." This should be allowed because their security isn't good enough? Are you crazy?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Touvan (868256)
            1) The potential for abuse regarding government's ability to keep information secret is well documented, and a much larger problem for the security of the people than access to the details of a well designed security system.

            2) The OP made no references to free speech, which is a whole different ball of wax. Encouraging others to commit a crime already puts somebody at a multitude of legal risks (inciting a riot, accessory to murder, etc.).

            There's really no need to be afraid anyway, it would be incredibly ea
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by AJWM (19027)
              and it hasn't happened yet.

              On Sept 10, 2001, nobody had flown commercial airliners into the WTC or the Pentagon yet, either. "It hasn't happened yet" is a damned weak argument.
        • Rather than reply to each of the haters who has replied to tell you how you're wrong and use a bad analogy to "prove" it, I give you this:

          Game theory algorithm improves security by putting police on unpredictable schedules [gcn.com]

          Security, not through obscurity, but through complex mathematics. It's not just for computers.

        • What you're defending is the real-world version of security through obscurity.

          Even though in the Slashdot world security through obscurity is much maligned - in the real world, security through obscurity works and is a valuable layer of defense. For example: Without a floor plan, an intruder cannot identify choke points and potential areas of camera coverage in advance. Nor can he plan his travel paths inside the facility.

          If knowing the floor plan and guard rotations of a water plant is

      • by zappepcs (820751)

        Well, national security can be important, believe it or not. If somebody posted the floor plan and guard rotations for a large water processing plant, would you really want a law that said nobody could tell them to take down the information?

        No, actually I'm more in favor of a law that punish the people who posted the information in the first place for being stupid. An action disclosing the information as you describe is directly against the common sense good of the population, and in fact represents what might be considered reckless endangerment.

        On the other hand, merely making available is not copyright infringement so it can't be a terrorist act. It's just stupidity and bad security practice. So have them fired and fined and be done with it

      • Just change the guard rotations, and lock the damn doors.
    • To some extent that exception makes sense. I can see, for instance, in times of war, where it would probably be necessary for the Commander and Chief to be able to have this power. It's not pleasant and it's certainly anti-liberty. I haven't read the bill, so I don't know whether it's unilateral or whether Congress retains the power of review. The latter, I think, would be rather important, and would maintain a check and balance on the President's power in this regard.
    • Considering the way things are going
      The way things are going? Just look up the Alien & Sedition Acts - the whole national security vs. individual rights has gone back and forth for 200 years.
  • by Asmor (775910) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:12PM (#23277570) Homepage
    So, in other words, the bill would prevent US companies from helping censorship in countries other than the US. Awesome.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by superbus1929 (1069292)
      But censoring against your own citizens is still A-OK.
    • by Tackhead (54550)

      So, in other words, the bill would prevent US companies from helping censorship in countries other than the US. Awesome.

      They hate us for our freedom. So the less we have of it, the happier they'll be. And furthermore, you've gotta remember that freedom is like e-waste -- it's messy and unpredictable and a natural offshoot of a technologically-advanced society, and the more of it we export abroad, the less of it we'll have to deal with at home.

    • Seems to be perfectly in line with the same reasoning on torture vs. waterboarding.

      One is "bad" the other is somehow different.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ArcherB (796902)

      So, in other words, the bill would prevent US companies from helping censorship in countries other than the US. Awesome.

      An example of why I think the point of allowing the US Prez to allow censorship is, let's say a group in Afghanistan are using the webcams to track US troop movements and MSN messenger to pass data and orders.

      Another example would be using the web to follow or report on NYPD officers to plan when to plant a bomb or whatever.

      Finally, let's say someone stole the plans to the F22 fighter that exposed a way to detect it via radar and wanted to post the information on their MySpace page from an Internet Cafe...

      • by Robert1 (513674)
        I really don't understand why everyone has such a hard time understanding this. You're spot on.

        I assume they have always had the capacity to censor things like that.
        • I really don't understand why everyone has such a hard time understanding this. You're spot on. I assume they have always had the capacity to censor things like that.
          The situation generally only begins to be a problem when the person holding this power (the President in this case) violates the trust (or appears to) of everybody else. The President's power in this matter is pretty reasonable in responsible hands. It's the last part that's brought into question.
      • by dirk (87083)
        While I see what you are driving at, wouldn't these very same situations apply to other countries as well? What if Spain finds out a group is using MySpace to plan bombings in Spain or a group is using MSN to track German troop movement for an attack? Why shouldn't they be allowed to request the same censorship? Why should it be okay for us to censor these things but illegal for other countries to censor them?

        And what happens when this ability is abused (as it will be)? Is there any oversight to ensure
        • by Rich0 (548339)
          What if Spain finds out a group is using MySpace to plan bombings in Spain or a group is using MSN to track German troop movement for an attack? Why shouldn't they be allowed to request the same censorship? Why should it be okay for us to censor these things but illegal for other countries to censor them?

          They can and do have laws of this nature. Basically it comes down to sovereignty and jurisdiction. If you are in a country you must obey its laws or face the consequences. The US is simply saying that th
        • Why should it be okay for us to censor these things but illegal for other countries to censor them?
          Not to get too picky, but this law can't make it illegal for other countries to censor information, it only acts on American-owned businesses or businesses operating on American Soil. The US Gov is certainly within its rights to regulate these kinds of businesses in whatever way the voters^Wlobbyists see fit.

          Other countries are still free to do as they wish.
        • by Guy Harris (3803)

          Is there any oversight to ensure that what the president is censoring is actually national security related and not just national embarrassment related?

          No, because there's nothing in the bill about the president censoring anything, there's just stuff about the president saying "oh, OK, the {fill in the 'Internet-restricting country'ans} can block this and we won't go after you if you help them".

          There is a provision for congressional oversight of the latter; to quote section 207(b) of TFB:

          (b) Congressiona

      • let's say a group in Afghanistan are using the webcams to track US troop movements and MSN messenger to pass data and orders.

        What are "the webcams" ?

        ...
        These are just a few examples of where I think the Prez should allow censorship of Internet activity.

        Those are just a few examples of where you haven't thought through the effectiveness of censorship. The really motivated people won't be stopped at all, they will just use less obvious means of communication. If they can't post on myspace, they will just use some other website in another country or they will use hijacked websites which they can switch between faster than the censor-hammer can knock down. There are a million ways to communicate over the net the only effective me

    • Looked at another way it will force US companies to stop doing business in countries which have laws restricting online content since they cannot comply with both local and US law at the same time.

      It is also somewhat morally dubious since sometimes local "censorship" laws are well intentioned like not being allowed to deny the holocaust in Germany. Whether or not you agree with it (and personally I don't) is it any business of the US if a democratic country (i.e. not China!) decides on some level of cens
  • by mozumder (178398) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:14PM (#23277604)
    Why is he allowed to waive a person's rights for national security purposes?

    National security is HIS problem, not the individual's problems. The constitution doesn't limit the right to expression, assembly, and so on, on the condition that it be used to protect national security. If he can't protect his country without infringing on constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of individuals, then well, sucks to be him. I can has new country, pleeaz.

    The individual is more important than the government, not the other way around. The government can die, for all we care - it can be replaced by another piece of paper quite easily.
    • Why is he allowed to waive a person's rights for national security purposes?
      I agree that an individual's rights shouldn't be infringed upon, but I don't understand how that's relevant to this bill. If I understand it correctly, it says that the president can prevent information on government or government-funded web sites from being disseminated to other countries. Right or wrong, that has nothing to do with the rights of American citizens.
      • by Guy Harris (3803)

        If I understand it correctly, it says that the president can prevent information on government or government-funded web sites from being disseminated to other countries.

        No - what it says is that he can, for example, override the bill's requirement that US companies not block government or government-funded Web sites from being read in "Internet-restricting countries"; the bill doesn't explicitly say he can block it himself.

        Right or wrong, that has nothing to do with the rights of American citizens.

        Exactly

    • by couchslug (175151)
      Why should he care about the supposed "right" of foreigners who are ruled by THEIR own governments?
      The Constitution doesn't apply to the world at large. It is by and for US citizens.

      US interests should matter before sacrificing anything at all for foreigners. I'm tired of being told
      what the US supposedly "owes" non-Americans. If I owned a business that could make a buck supporting
      a regime that wasn't anti-US, I'd do it no matter how "repressive" they were. That sort of ruthlessness
      helped win the Cold War, a
      • "The Constitution doesn't apply to the world at large. It is by and for US citizens."

        Read it again. It is a list of things that the United States Federal Government is allowed to do, and enjoined from doing. It doesn't give anybody any rights...it enumerates specific rights (and an incomplete list of those rights) that the US Government is particularly not allowed to infringe.

        Not "citizens".
        Not "non-terrorists".

        Everybody.

        (well, that's the way it was designed, anyhow...)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by falconwolf (725481)

        If I owned a business that could make a buck supporting a regime that wasn't anti-US, I'd do it no matter how "repressive" they were. That sort of ruthlessness helped win the Cold War, and there is no reason the shrink from it now.

        So you would support the massacre of 200,000 [thirdworldtraveler.com] people? That's what President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger did when they supported the Indonesian dictator Suharto's [gwu.edu] invasion of East Timor. That 200,000 massacred was 1/3 of East Timor's population.

        Falcon

    • Why is he allowed to waive a person's rights for national security purposes?

      National security is HIS problem, not the individual's problems. The constitution doesn't limit the right to expression, assembly, and so on, on the condition that it be used to protect national security. If he can't protect his country without infringing on constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of individuals, then well, sucks to be him. I can has new country, pleeaz.

      The individual is more important than the government, not the other way around. The government can die, for all we care - it can be replaced by another piece of paper quite easily.

      I hope you are not serious. I would say that being in jail a violation of a person's rights. I would also say that arresting someone who was going to set off a nuke in DC would be protecting national security. Are you saying that the US gov't should ALLOW me to set off that nuke as to not violate my rights?

      • Your second example is spurious...there is no "right to set off nuclear weapons" (unless you believe it's covered by the second amendment, which I do not concede is a bona fide right).

        As to your first example, you are essentially correct, but are forgetting that the violation of the criminal's rights takes place so that others may more freely exercise their own rights. The benefit of putting criminals in jail (if there really is a benefit, but that's another debate) doesn't accrue necessarily to the Govern
  • Great news! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:15PM (#23277620) Journal
    A bill that would penalize companies for assisting repressive regimes [slashdot.org] in censoring the Internet may finally be headed to a vote.

    Does that mean the "child porn" laws and DMCA are repealed?
    • Re:Great news! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:31PM (#23277818) Journal

      Does that mean the "child porn" laws and DMCA are repealed?
      FTFA:

      When it comes to non-government sites, the Act would require companies to disclose to the newly-created Office of Global Internet Freedom the terms that they do filter, and for the Office to continually monitor these filtered terms.
      Would this make the US Gov't a direct party to overseas filtering, since they know what's being filtered and have a veto over its filtering?
      • This guy nailed the trojan in this bill.

        Yet another political trap for those who dare to vote against it.

        now whichever party introduced it can claim on attack ads "this person supports internet censorship" when in reality they oppose the creation of a US "information ministry" designed to oversee and censor america's internet.
        • by Gat0r30y (957941)
          Well, with the name

          The Global Online Freedom Act
          Frankly I suspected something far more sinister and Orwellian than providing a legal route for dissidents in other countries to sue US companies which infringe on their rights
        • now whichever party introduced it can claim on attack ads "this person supports internet censorship" when in reality they oppose the creation of a US "information ministry" designed to oversee and censor america's internet.

          Could you cite the parts of the bill that indicate that the Office of Global Internet Freedom is "designed to oversee and censor america's internet"? (Hint: the item the person to whom you're replying referred to is not it.)

      • by Guy Harris (3803)

        Would this make the US Gov't a direct party to overseas filtering, since they know what's being filtered and have a veto over its filtering?

        Only to the extent that they don't exercise the veto. The bill doesn't say they get to add terms to lists of filtered searches, for example.

    • Yes. It also means that US citizens can do on-line gambling at offshore casinos.
  • What's the goal? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrami (664567)
    So to the average Chinese resident, services like YouTube will just disappear. Then they'll see a story on the gubmint-run news saying how the West cut off all those sites because they hate the Chinese and don't want them to succeed. And we're going to convince them otherwise... how again?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by evilphish_mi (1282588)
      Not to mention the lost revenue of these American countries for having to shut down those operations.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mweather (1089505)
      So you think the Chinese people are retarded?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ArcherB (796902)

      So to the average Chinese resident, services like YouTube will just disappear. Then they'll see a story on the gubmint-run news saying how the West cut off all those sites because they hate the Chinese and don't want them to succeed.

      And we're going to convince them otherwise... how again?

      I believe you misunderstand the goal of this bill. The goal is TO stop companies like Google, YouTube or Yahoo from helping repressive regimes (the Chinese in your example) censor information to the average citizen. Of course, we can't stop the Chinese gov't from doing it, but we can stop Google from doing it for them.

  • by nebaz (453974) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:17PM (#23277638)
    Will Cisco be penalized for helping create the "Great Firewall of China" in the first place?
    • I'm wondering about this too. "Cisco" doesn't censor. Cisco provied the equipment, expertise, training, and most likely "features" that enable the censorship for the goverment.

      Many of those "features" are used in the US as well, things like WCCP are used to facilitate censorship by forwarding traffic to a filtering proxy server.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ArcherB (796902)

      Will Cisco be penalized for helping create the "Great Firewall of China" in the first place?
      No. You can't pass a law illegalizing a previously committed action and the prosecute for that action. That would be like changing the speed limit on a street from 70 to 35 and giving tickets to everyone that drove 60 on that street yesterday.
      • by techpawn (969834) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:54PM (#23278172) Journal

        You can't pass a law illegalizing a previously committed action
        Or passing a law saying that your warrantless wiretapping program wasn't illegal and all parties involved get immunity because it's for the good of the nation and the failing economy, besides they wheren't doing anything illegal anyway.

        Yes, you can not do that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Yes you can, it's called an ex-post-facto law, latin for "After the fact". They're against the US constitution, yes, but theres a few being upheld now.
        From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

        One current U.S. law that has an ex post facto effect is the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. This law, which imposes new registration requirements on convicted sex offenders, gives the U.S. Attorney General the authority to apply the law retroactively

        Ex-post-facto laws are fine in the eyes of the public as long as they only

  • oh, that is rich (Score:4, Insightful)

    by museumpeace (735109) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:17PM (#23277644) Journal
    the US is hardly the one to penalize anyone for supporting repressive regimes. How recently was Saddam Husein a client of our state department and defense organizations? Or Pinochet or...you know it is a long list.
    • by Robert1 (513674) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:32PM (#23277858) Homepage
      So you would rather they continue to support oppressive regimes than try to be progressive and move away from those policies and do so through passage of laws explicitly prohibiting support?

      You clearly don't like what they did before so why the hell are you whining about them trying to rectify that and ensure it happens less in the future? It's like your'e bitching for the sake of bitching.
      • by ArcherB (796902)

        So you would rather they continue to support oppressive regimes than try to be progressive and move away from those policies and do so through passage of laws explicitly prohibiting support?

        You clearly don't like what they did before so why the hell are you whining about them trying to rectify that and ensure it happens less in the future? It's like your'e bitching for the sake of bitching.

        He's just trying to justify his blind hatred of all things American. Until he can find a country that has done no wrong, I just block his kind out and remind myself that he is free to leave, unlike those in, say, Cuba.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by museumpeace (735109)
        having said nothing more than I did, I suppose you could be right. But while we we make that insignificant token step in the right direction, do we use it to deflect calls for substantial corrections to our rights-shredding and our hypocrisy about oppression? I am not opposed to this measure...unless it is a way to deflate initiatives toward other measures. And do you not admit its a tad ironic?


        Besides, I can bitch for a lot more reasons than self righteous gratification.

        Like shouldn't we put our ow
        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by Robert1 (513674)
          "Our pot is so black none of the kettles should be expected to listen."

          This has to be one of the most ignorant statements I've ever read on slashdot. I guess I forgot about America's recent government mandated bread-lines. Our inability to cross state-lines without proper documentation. Our inability to leave our country to go abroad. The undercover agents that follow foreign nationals within our country all day, everyday. Our mandatory weekly propaganda indoctrination. Our ultrapatriotic school systems whi
  • by iamacat (583406) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:18PM (#23277664)
    Other countries to follow up with laws that prohibit their companies from following US laws. Like controlling lead content in toys or blocking Al Quida terrorist training material.
  • do we think this will have any effect other than cost us tax revenue?

    All this does is force Yahoo or Google to open a company in China. Now the filters do not change and companies moved some of their revenue businesses out of the country.

    Does anyone not see it happening this way if this is enforced?

    • My understanding is that's how it's done anyways. The American company creates a company in China, and then signs a licensing agreement with it (actually, I think in Google's case, an existing company got the contract, but I'm too lazy to check that out at the moment). In a rather backwards sort of way, Google isn't in China so much as a Chinese company has the exclusive license to provide Google-branded services. If this bill is to have any effect at all on Google, Yahoo or Microsoft, then I'm assuming
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:22PM (#23277702) Homepage
    Are they passing a law which would make it unlawful to comply with the laws of the country in which you do business?

    Because, that would leave Yahoo et al with the choice of having no presence in places like China -- or, in the front of a lawful subpoena in that country having to say "no, it would be illegal for me to obey the law".

    Am I getting this right? I fail to see how this law wouldn't leave these companies between a rock and a hard place.

    This sounds like a law which was ill thought out in terms of how you enforce it. Then again, that shouldn't exactly surprise me.

    Cheers
    • It just means that yahoo needs to move their home office overseas, and have 99.99% of their "branch office" employees in the US.
      • by xant (99438)
        Doesn't work. Such companies are still subject to *US* law if they operate here.

        Gets pretty convoluted though; I'm in favor of penalizing companies for helping to antagonize human rights, even to the point of saying they have to pull their business out of China, but there's a huge Law of Unintended Consequences probability here.
    • by Gat0r30y (957941)

      Are they passing a law which would make it unlawful to comply with the laws of the country in which you do business?
      No. The bill states that exceptions can be made to comply with local law enforcement, but it does however leave a legal path for retribution in cases where a company (read yahoo) gives a foreign government information with the intent of removing dissent.
  • [CENSORED]
  • by portnux (630256) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:28PM (#23277780)
    Would that list of "repressive regimes" include the good old USofA?
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:31PM (#23277816)
    Miy Fellow Americans!

    Today, I present to you a bill to help spread freedom around the world. To stop companies doing evil and censoring global citizens from accessing the Freedom of Press here in America. (*sniff*, *sniff*, I love America...)

    (Fist thumping the desk) But in the name of NATIONAL SECURITY, I'll reserve the right for the President of this (sniff) great land to, as he sees fit, step in and block access to any site he deems a threat to this great land.

    Thank you all, and God bless ya'll.

    • But in the name of NATIONAL SECURITY, I'll reserve the right for the President of this (sniff) great land to, as he sees fit, step in and block access to any site he deems a threat to this great land.

      You misspelled "to, as he sees fit, step in and not bother to prevent our fine companies from helping other countries block sites they deem a threat to their great lands". RTFB (in particular, RTFS 207, "Presidential Waiver").

  • umm (Score:4, Funny)

    by superwiz (655733) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:32PM (#23277844) Journal
    why bother with the "provision"? i thought we already established that "if the president does it, it's not illegal".</sarcasm>
  • Movies are edited for TV and nudity and language is censored.
  • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:46PM (#23278056) Homepage Journal
    In the US, we censor thing, too: through the DCMA. How does one reconcile these two US laws (assuming this one is passed)?
  • O Rly? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135)
    And, what happens when some other country passes a law that a company that has a presence in their country, like Yahoo, can not provide any information to the U.S. Government?

    Or, said country passes a law saying all companies who do business in their country must provide any information requested?

    What then?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mweather (1089505)
      Then they get penalized. If they don't want that top happen, they either need to move their HQ, or get out of that market.
  • China seems content with only censoring their citizens.
  • The USA has done enough legislating of international morality for its own companies. Even Europeans would sell us out to try and get these deals for themselves. For every Boeing that gets busted by DOJ for trying to bribe someone to buy a jet, there is an Airbus waiting to take its place. If Chinese Yahoo got shut down by the US Gov't, the only result would be a European company rolling in, doing the dirty work, and the Europeans would still figure out a way to say they are morally superior for doing so.
  • by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Friday May 02, 2008 @03:07PM (#23278358)

    Here's The Fine Bill [govtrack.us], as can be found if you follow enough links, and here's the entry for it on the THOMAS web site at the Library of Congress [loc.gov]. Please read before commenting on the bill. In particular, note that:

    • the word "totalitarian" doesn't appear in the bill, just "authoritarian";
    • the President of the US determines what countries are "Internet-restricting countries" (fat chance that this would include the US or any of the US's friends);
    • the forms of censorship, etc. it affects are providing personally identifiable information to "Internet-restricting countries", filtering search results at the request of "Internet-restricting countries", and "jamming" "United States-supporting content" (government sites and the like) in "Internet-restricting countries";
    • the bill doesn't affect whether you can help any country other than an "Internet-restricting country" to censor the Intarweb,
  • This could potentially bar American companies like Google or Yahoo from doing business in countries like China. Is this what our congress is trying to accomplish?
  • Hmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SiriusStarr (1196697)
    Do we think that this includes caving to the US government? Thoughts of FBI snooping come to mind...
  • Can we please stop using "loophole" to describe provisions that are intentionally and knowingly written into legislation? If the president waives away the entire bill under the auspices of "national security," no one, especially not Congress, can cry "loophole!"; the president was acting within the explicit provisions of the legislation.
  • by Belial6 (794905) on Friday May 02, 2008 @04:37PM (#23279458)
    Maybe we could call this an "eMancipation Proclamation".
  • Another loophole (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wealthychef (584778) * on Friday May 02, 2008 @05:07PM (#23279802)
    Unfortunately, there's also a giant loophole: the president would be allowed to waive the provisions of the Act for national security purposes."


    And of course, another loophole is that the US government can go ahead and "censor" anything it wants (e.g., child porn, "terrorism" sites, whatever). National security, hmm... whatever happened to "give me liberty or give me death" and "the society that chooses security over freedom deserves neither"?

  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Friday May 02, 2008 @07:41PM (#23280976)
    It seems ironic that the US government is paying so much attention to censorship in other countries when it refuses to prohibit censorship being commited by corporations right here. This law is quite insufficient in protecting freedom of speech. No corporation should be allowed to manipulate content which is transmitted over the internet. Truly ISPs are common carriers and should be required to transmit data verbatim. Corporations can, via owning critical communications infrastructure such as this, become governments by controlling what can be sent over the internet. You cant have this in a truly free society and the US governments inaction to prevent this censorship shows their lack of regard for the peoples freedom.

    With the proposed law, the national security exemption is the sort of thing we see as a typical fixture in totalitarian government, The government will have a constitution or a law which claims that the people have free speech rights, to make people think they do, but then in the fine print adds exceptions so vague you could drive a truck through it, like national security, which can be interpreted so loosely it can be applied to nearly anything by a corrupt regime. Many totalitarian governments have a form of this where these rights can be suspended in an emergency, so the government simply declares a perpetual state of emergency. Telling people they have free speech, but only as long as the government approves of it, is not free speech.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

Working...