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Bill Would Bar US Companies From Net Censorship

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the accountability-may-make-a-comeback-after-all dept.

Censorship 309

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."

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The Bill Should Bill (3, Funny)

monxrtr (1105563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277558)

$150,000 per violation.

Re:The Bill Should Bill (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277712)

That's not a lot considering the consequences of not censoring material from an oppressive would have greater implications for the company in mind. For example, if google didn't provide censoring for china, china could shut them out on the pretense of anarchy. The only reason large companies would acquiesce is that other nations could simply blackmail them economically into doing what they want.

Re:The Bill Should Bill (2, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278026)

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"

So.... (2, Interesting)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277568)

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:So.... (2, Interesting)

piojo (995934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277740)

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 censorship permission slips all day long.

Re:So.... (5, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277792)

And the President can't claim ignorance when it happens.

Re:So.... (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278070)

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:So.... (2, Interesting)

hpa (7948) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278386)

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 has lost any momentum toward eliminating the XXII Amendment [wikipedia.org] , which was floated several times in the 2001-2003 timeframe.

Re:So.... (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.... (0, Troll)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278168)

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.
Great, then you won't mind giving me your IP address and root/Admin password. I would also like the hours you work and when the wife and kiddies are home alone.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Re:So.... (4, Insightful)

piojo (995934) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:So.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278384)

Actually, not really. Knowing that there are guards on rotation would be knowing HOW the system works. Knowing the actual rotations/routes would be like having the decryption key allowing you to bypass at least one portion of the physical security.

Re:So.... (1)

JoshHeitzman (1122379) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278162)

The guard rotations and patrol routes should be randomized anyway. Security via secrecy can be defeated by undercover agents, bribes, and/or social engineering, so its best to assume that those looking to defeat your security have the same information you do.

Re:So.... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278520)

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. No need for 'national security' and war on terror to get involved.

You are correct, the government shouldn't start censoring. well, you should have stopped at that point anyway.

Re:So.... (1)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278626)

Just change the guard rotations, and lock the damn doors.

Re:So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23277770)

Have you been out of the country for awhile? :-)

Welcome back, Comrade Tuoqui

Re:So.... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277884)

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.

Re:So.... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278266)

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.

Re:So.... (1)

rootpassbird (1276000) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278546)

the US became a totalitarian state sooner or later.
you mean it's not one yet...?

Stop other people from censorship (3, Insightful)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277570)

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

Re:Stop other people from censorship (2, Interesting)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277640)

But censoring against your own citizens is still A-OK.

Re:Stop other people from censorship (0)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277804)

But censoring against your own citizens is still A-OK.
This act prevents US companies from preventing the transfer of some US information to foreign countries. Are you suggesting that they're currently blocking US government/government-sponsored sites from viewing in the US? In that case, what audience are they being hosted for?

Maybe I'm confused.

What about American censorship? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23277652)

If a web site in another country (say, Japan) puts up images that are illegal in America (say, cartoon drawings of nude children engaged in sexual acts), and Google image search and other search engines block them because they are illegal child porn....are they then engaging in censorship? Are they then punishable?

Re:What about American censorship? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277810)

Cartoon drawings and stories aren't illegal as no actual children were involved.

Anyway, this bill would prevent Google for aiding the Great Firewall of China -- ie, helping to keep the Chinese from gaining access to information outside of China. It's not illegal to prevent Americans from obtaining something which is illegal in America.

Actually, that'd probably just help keep the American out of prison because then they couldn't end up in possession of something that they should not have.

Re:What about American censorship? (3, Informative)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277942)

Those aren't illegal in the US, much to the chagrin of the "think of the children" crowd.

Re:Stop other people from censorship (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277678)

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.

IOW: Do as we say, not as we do (2, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277746)

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

One is "bad" the other is somehow different.

Re:Stop other people from censorship (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277768)

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...

These are just a few examples of where I think the Prez should allow censorship of Internet activity. Generally, censorship is a bad thing, but not always. On RARE occasion (Very RARE), it's necessary.

Re:Stop other people from censorship (1)

Robert1 (513674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277924)

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 president (1)

chihowa (366380) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278276)

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.

Re:Stop other people from censorship (1)

dirk (87083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278284)

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 that what the president is censoring is actually national security related and not just national embarrassment related? Or is it yet another "well, we have to take the president at his word" case, because those always turn out so well.

Re:Stop other people from censorship (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278592)

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 they don't want US-based countries censoring data in other countries. That leaves companies a choice - pick what country they want to have a physical presence in. If you want to make the Chinese happy then just give you your US-based operations and there would be no conflict.

Somebody commented the other day that the former CEO of Union Carbide has an outstanding arrest warrant in India for murder (Bhopal) - so they just don't go there.

International law doesn't always need to agree - you just have to decide whether doing business in a particular country matters to you, or if you ever care to vacation there.

But what would they do for Hans? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23277600)

This post is brought to you by Hans Reiser's shredded anus, which is by now no doubt being passed around the jail house like a pack of smokes. His poor anus probably now resembles a pastrami sandwich that fell apart. I wonder if he'll describe that experience in the passive voice...

National security more important than individuals? (4, Insightful)

mozumder (178398) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:National security more important than individua (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277724)

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.

Re:National security more important than individua (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278452)

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.

Re:National security more important than individua (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277774)

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, and there is no reason the shrink from it now.

The idea that we should support only "good" ensures we won't have any allies in the real world.

Re:National security more important than individua (5, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278074)

"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:National security more important than individua (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278104)

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.
No, it is not. It is for all persons. The ONLY parts that distinguish between citizens and non-citizens are the parts about representation (ie, the right to vote).

Re:National security more important than individua (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23277908)

The individual is more important than the government
Keep thinking that as you bask in the new age of serfdom.

Re:National security more important than individua (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278258)

you're under the false impression that government must exist for its self and anything else is anarchy er serfdom as you put it. The government must be for the people and by the people, if it exists to merely serve and protect its self rather than those it is supposed to represent it must be dissolved or at the least altered to serve OUR interests not ITS interests.

Re:National security more important than individua (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278438)

That sort of philosophy may work very well in some ivory tower, but, out here in the real world, who's going to be doing the dissolution or alteration? You? You and what army?

Re:National security more important than individua (1)

twizmer (1206952) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278058)

The constitution doesn't limit the right to expression, assembly, and so on, on the condition that it be used to protect national security.
It is a well-established principle of constitutional jurisprudence that executive power is strongest and constitutional protections weakest when national security is at stake. And the principle of national security is that the people will die along with the government, which is a problem. Also, as sibling notes, this is about censoring things for individuals outside the US, so the Constitution really says nothing.

Re:National security more important than individua (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278264)

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?

Re:National security more important than individua (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278500)

Free Speech and the Right to Assemble are impinged all the time. To use the classic example, you don't have the right to shout "Fire" in a crowded theater on the basis that it's likely to cause undue harm to others nearby.

On a general basis, "chance of getting soldiers killed" would work under the same principles. It's no doubt abused for other reasons... like protecting the politicos own asses, but there has never been complete freedom of speech.

Great news! (3, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277620)

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! (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277818)

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 needs a mod up, you missed this little trojan (2, Informative)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278028)

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.

Re:This needs a mod up, you missed this little tro (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278200)

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

Re:This needs a mod up, you missed this little tro (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278598)

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.)

Re:Great news! (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278534)

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.

Re:Great news! (1)

rootpassbird (1276000) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278586)

talking of overseas, these clowns will now outsource snooping to the Indians and Brazilians...and... ummm... no, not the Chinese!

Re:Great news! (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277900)

Yes. It also means that US citizens can do on-line gambling at offshore casinos.

What's the goal? (2, Insightful)

mrami (664567) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277622)

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:What's the goal? (2, Interesting)

evilphish_mi (1282588) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277890)

Not to mention the lost revenue of these American countries for having to shut down those operations.

Re:What's the goal? (2, Funny)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277956)

So you think the Chinese people are retarded?

Re:What's the goal? (2, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277996)

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.

Welcome to the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23277632)

...where the president is a loophole that can be abused.

What about hardware? (2, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277638)

Will Cisco be penalized for helping create the "Great Firewall of China" in the first place?

Re:What about hardware? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277714)

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:What about hardware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278304)

"Bit torrent sites don't hold any illegal content. They just provide the location and features that enable the sharing of content which could be legal or illegal".

Re:What about hardware? (2, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277824)

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.

Re:What about hardware? (3, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278172)

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.

oh, that is rich (3, Insightful)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277644)

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.

Re:oh, that is rich (4, Insightful)

Robert1 (513674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277858)

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.

Re:oh, that is rich (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278076)

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:oh, that is rich (2, Insightful)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278128)

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 own house in order first and stop giving our executive a free and warrantless hand to access any communications among its citizens that it wishes?

Our pot is so black none of the kettles should be expected to listen.

Re:oh, that is rich (1, Flamebait)

Robert1 (513674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278378)

"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 which allow reading only of books written by American authors, on patriotic and government sanctioned topics. Our inability to practice religion freely because of government closure of churches. The mass killing of intellectuals that disagree with our current and eternal glorious regime. Our government's suspension of our right to vote, electoral year after electoral year. Our presidents that are in office for 30 years at a time. The fact that not a single newspaper exists that is not wholly government controlled. The fact that we have only one channel which plays only government approved television. Our single radio station which produces an endless stream of mind-numbing propaganda. I could go on but I think the thought-police internet division is about to rape my family after burning my house down.

You're right, our kettle is the BLACKEST. Too bad our country is so oppressive you aren't allowed to leave, maybe you'll find a way to smuggle yourself out, you spoiled perspective-less ignorant jackass.

Re:oh, that is rich (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278536)

Because supporting oppressive regimes and the details of how we do it are protected as national security =)

Kinda hard to really get this to work unless it works on yourself first.

I would love to see (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

oh my god (1)

KevMar (471257) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277700)

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?

Re:oh my god (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278012)

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 it must give whoever is going to be enforcing this the power to pierce that legal fiction and make the American companies directly responsible for the action's of foreign license holders.

So .... let me get this straight .... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277702)

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

Re:So .... let me get this straight .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23277878)

Hey motherfucker if you are not happy then just don't do business with countries who do not respect human rights.

Re:So .... let me get this straight .... (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278174)

Hey, motherfucker, live without buying anything made in China for a month then talk to about it.

In fact, maybe you should take a look at your computer and clothes, you hear me now you shit-brained dumb-ass?

Re:So .... let me get this straight .... (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277972)

It just means that yahoo needs to move their home office overseas, and have 99.99% of their "branch office" employees in the US.

Re:So .... let me get this straight .... (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278004)

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.

Re:So .... let me get this straight .... (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278176)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's had this reaction. Rules and laws in the US are already affecting how we (those not in the US) deal with US based companies. I work for a fairly large telecommunications company in Canada, and when we're looking at service providers, we pretty much won't consider a company if our data will be hosted within the US. That's because we don't want our data falling under the Patriot Act. This is happening more and more in Canada, and presumably elsewhere.

So know you've got less international business going to US based companies. This bill would provide even more incentive for US based companies to consider moving their operations elsewhere. Given this is most applicable to IT based companies in the online world, physical location is less and less important.

Personally, if I owned a US based business and saw this law passed, I'd start looking at the steps involved to move the business outside of the US.

Re:So .... let me get this straight .... (1)

richardellisjr (584919) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278468)

Wish I had mod points to give you. I think this will force countries like China to block many U.S. internet companies and effectively prevent those companies from operating in a very profitable region. I can easily see how a foreign version of google can overtake worldwide google because they are allowed in many developing countries simply because they obey the laws of those countries. Keep in mind when that in many cases when you want to search the internet you want to search the whole internet, not a subset. If google is blocked out of many countries a competitor is allowed that competitor has a significant advantage not just in the blocked country but worldwide. For example if I'm looking for the solution to a problem would I search in an engine that because of a law can't provide results in X number of large countries, or would I search in the global engine, (this assumes language wouldn't be a problem, which it may not be if search engines ever start indexing sites before and after they are translated). Also take France and Germany for example, I believe Nazi related materials, documents and discussions aren't legal in those. Based on this law ebay, google, ms search, yahoo could be blocked by those countries because they make Nazi materials, documents or theologies available. Or will censoring unpopular views and materials now acceptable. In my humble opinion censorship of almost anything is wrong, child pornography being one of the few areas I believe that one wrong is better than the other. But, it's important to realize that an internet company in this global economy needs to be able to operate within the laws of all the countries it operates otherwise we risk losing out on one of the fastest growing business opportunities the world has ever seen. In short I believe it's extremely hypocritical for the U.S. to ignore laws of other countries while simultaneously forcing our laws on everyone else.

Don't forget ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23277718)

... to pay your $699 cock-smoking fee you licensing tea-baggers [twofo.co.uk] .

Google China thinks (2, Funny)

imyy4u2 (1275398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277738)

[CENSORED]

Not ideal, but a good start? (0)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277766)

This bill sounds far from ideal, but at least there's some effort being waged to protect Internet freedom.

Does that include ours? (3, Insightful)

portnux (630256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277780)

Would that list of "repressive regimes" include the good old USofA?

Re:Does that include ours? (3, Funny)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278082)

No way man, you see, we aren't in a repressive regime, we've just been freed from our liberties!

Re:Does that include ours? (2, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278122)

Would that list of "repressive regimes" include the good old USofA?
In in the good old USofA and I'm not repressed. Are you? If you are, please call 911 or your local news affiliate because that kind of shit is not allowed here.

*Table thumping* In the name of National Security! (3, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

umm (3, Funny)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277844)

why bother with the "provision"? i thought we already established that "if the president does it, it's not illegal".</sarcasm>

What about American - USA censorship? (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277866)

Movies are edited for TV and nudity and language is censored.

What of little billy? (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277962)

And yet every time little billy walks by the newsstand he turns his head, and some half-nude swank looks right back at him in all her fleshy glory.

Bad idea (2, Insightful)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23277984)

We have to pragmatic here. If our companies don't do as foreign countries ask all that will happen is they will block US internet companies. That's removing 3-5 billion potential consumers.

This is disastrous and will only make the economy worse.

Re:Bad idea (0, Troll)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278240)

Our making a buck is more important than some yellow person half a world away, right?

Re:Bad idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278372)

Our making a buck is more important than some yellow person half a world away, right?

Well, yeah. That's why companies have been pushing for more globalization.

They get emerging markets, cheap labour, one sided trade deals, and the ability to export copyright laws.

What you think your running shoes are made by some white guy in an air conditioned room who works in an a well regulated environment where he gets benefits and good pay?

American companies have been exploiting cheap labor and lax employment laws for quite a while now. The US government has never worried about the rights of people in other countries before, why the hell should they start?

This contradicts the DCMA (2, Insightful)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278056)

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? (2, Interesting)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278088)

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:O Rly? (2, Informative)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278268)

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.

I am more afraid of the US (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278096)

China seems content with only censoring their citizens.

Re:I am more afraid of the US (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278244)

That's what Tibet thought, too.

This is a stupid law (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278202)

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. It is utterly pointless.

Best bet is to have American companies obey the local laws, and if they suck, state our case in international forums, and work for change, but, at the same time, I think Iraq shows what happens when we flaunt international conventions ourselves even if it is for the greater good.

Re:This is a stupid law (1)

misterjava66 (1265146) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278608)

If someone else steps in and does the 'dirty work', perhaps more correctly 'evil deeds', that is what it is. At least there is one less place in this world were this kind of evil is allowed. Also, this will give euorpean groups working for the same kinds of laws there leverage. if this actually gets enforced as we hope it will, I'm sure at some point this will be a talking point with our allies. Stamp out this evil every place we can. :-)

RTFB before commenting, please (4, Informative)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 6 years ago | (#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,
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