US bill targets web censorship tools

2011-12-09 14:40

kalahari.com

Washington - A bill aimed at choking off US exports of technology used for internet surveillance or censorship was introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

"It's unconscionable that US technology is putting democracy activists at risk," said Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey who is behind the Global Online Freedom Act.

"US companies should not, knowingly or unwittingly, be providing the technology used by repressive regimes to hunt down and punish human rights activists.

"This bill will stop the vicious merry-go-round we are now on of exporting internet-restricting technologies from the US that we then have to spend millions of dollars helping activists circumvent," Smith said.

The legislation would prohibit American companies from exporting hardware or software that could be used for online surveillance or censorship to nations that restrict the internet.

Web transformed

It would also require internet companies listed on US stock exchanges to disclose to American regulators their practices in collecting and sharing personally identifiable information and steps taken to notify users when removing content.

"This will apply not only to US companies but to the increasing number of foreign IT companies that raise capital here on our stock exchanges, including a large number of Chinese internet companies that will soon have to report their practices to the [Securities and Exchange Commission]," Smith said.

At a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, Smith said the internet has been transformed over the past few years "from a freedom plaza to dictator's best friend".

"Every day we learn of more democratic activists being arrested through the use of a growing array of internet censorship and surveillance tools, abused by the governments of China, Belarus, Egypt, Syria and many other countries," he said.

Clothilde Le Coz, Washington director of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, told the hearing the legislation was a welcome step toward making companies more responsible and should be matched by similar efforts in Europe.

"There is a criminal co-operation between Western hi-tech companies and authoritarian regimes," Le Coz said.

"The surveillance tools sold by these companies are used all over the world by armed forces, intelligence agencies, democratic governments and repressive regimes.

"The leading exporters of these technologies include the United States, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and Israel," she said. "Companies should have a responsibility when selling their technologies abroad."

Another witness, Elisa Massimino, president and chief executive of Human Rights First, said many companies "really have not gotten their heads around what it means to be responsible for the end use of their products".

"Companies have to feel that they're being watched," Massimino said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    internet
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

The route of the 2015 Absa Cape Epic has been announced and it promises to be as challenging as ever!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

4 exercise excuses and how to beat them
Watch: Insane road bike skills!
The most extreme journey ever?
Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency to focus too intently on outer appearance and beauty which hides who you really are. You are being challenged...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.