February 16, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Proposed law targets tech-China cooperation

Nearly every U.S. company with a Web site located in China will have to move it elsewhere or its executives would face prison terms of up to a year, according to proposed legislation expected to be introduced this week in the U.S. Congress.

A draft version of the bill reviewed by CNET News.com represents the first serious attempt to rewrite the ground rules controlling how U.S. Internet companies may interact with foreign governments. If enacted, it would dramatically change the business practices of corporations with operations in China, Iran, Vietnam and other nations deemed to be overly "Internet-restricting."

The highly anticipated proposal, created by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) in response to recent reports about censorship in China by Google, Yahoo and others, also makes it unlawful to filter search results or turn over information about users to certain governments unless the U.S. Justice Department approves. It would also impose new export restrictions to those nations.

"For the sake of market share and profits, leading U.S. companies like Google, Yahoo, Cisco and Microsoft have compromised both the integrity of their product and their duties as responsible corporate citizens," Smith said at a related hearing in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Smith, chairman of a human rights subcommittee, likened that cooperation to companies that aided the Nazis in World War II.


China's siren song
The clash between huge
profits and human suffering
finds fresh fodder this week:
Politicians lash out
at tech firms over China

Congressman quizzes
Net firms on shame

Video: Taking tech
to task over China

Perspective: Dealing with
China the wrong way

Blog: Activists have no love
for 'Goolag'


Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako and Cisco Systems spokesman John Earnhardt said their companies were still evaluating the draft. Google and Microsoft did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

During Wednesday's hearing, politicians predicted that this bill would be introduced in the next few days, perhaps even as early as Thursday. Google Vice President Elliot Schrage expressed cautious agreement with the broad principles of this approach, leading some subcommittee members to jest that the search company should be listed as a joint sponsor.

It's unclear what the prospects are for the legislation, titled the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006. While the measure is likely to draw support from some politicians from both major parties, no companion version currently exists in the U.S. Senate, and election-year politics could complicate efforts to enact it anytime soon. Also, the proposal puts American businesses at a severe competitive disadvantage with China-based firms, which are immune from such rules and can locate servers in China and offer much faster response times for Internet users in that country.

Broad definitions
In addition, the draft bill--time stamped Tuesday at 6:16 p.m. ET--could face opposition from a broader alliance of U.S. companies because it is written so broadly. The requirement that Web sites be moved away from Internet-restricting nations applies to any business with a site that responds to a query by displaying "information available on the Internet"--a broad definition that seems to sweep in any search box that accepts textual input and offers a list of Web pages in response.

The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RWB), which Smith cited as an influence when drafting the legislation, said it has not reviewed the 26-page measure. RWB has called for similar laws that would, for instance, prohibit search engines from incorporating automatic filters to reject phrases such as "democracy" or "human rights."

"Our first reaction would be that hopefully this hearing and all this congressional and media attention is going to push the companies themselves at some point to regulate themselves," RWB's Lucie Morillon, who testified in Wednesday's hearing, said in a telephone interview with CNET News.com. If that industry self-regulation fails, she warned, then legislation is necessary--it's "the only thing left."

CONTINUED: New rules, export regulations…
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76 comments

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Add your comment
Cart before the horse...
First, get US corporations to follow US laws in the US. Then create
laws to make foreign corporations follow US laws in the US. Then
create the laws to forbid US corporations to follow foreign laws in
foreign lands.

Somewhere in that sequence, even the typical ******* politician
should begin to see inconsistencies.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cart before the horse...
First, get US corporations to follow US laws in the US. Then create
laws to make foreign corporations follow US laws in the US. Then
create the laws to forbid US corporations to follow foreign laws in
foreign lands.

Somewhere in that sequence, even the typical ******* politician
should begin to see inconsistencies.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why not reject Chinese $ funding US Debt!!
Congress should also do as it says. Stop selling US Debt to China. Then what happens
Posted by (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thank You Peggy!!
You're exactly right. As long as the U.S. Government benefits financially, all is good. The hypocrisy of politicians, world-wide, is unimaginable. Yet, we continue to re-elect these morons!
Posted by ScullyB (47 comments )
Link Flag
Why not reject Chinese $ funding US Debt!!
Congress should also do as it says. Stop selling US Debt to China. Then what happens
Posted by (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thank You Peggy!!
You're exactly right. As long as the U.S. Government benefits financially, all is good. The hypocrisy of politicians, world-wide, is unimaginable. Yet, we continue to re-elect these morons!
Posted by ScullyB (47 comments )
Link Flag
Previous comments off the mark
Do the previous commentators have no sense of how repressive the Chinese government is, of how much it censors information? Are you unconcerned that American companies are assisting China in its repression -- as Google, Yahoo, Cisco have clearly done? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 19, says, Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. That principle should be sacred to our news media and to our internet companies. But these companies, for their own profit, have not only acquiesed to China's censorship, they have helped them do it.

What they have done is evil and sickening and should be outlawed, period. Complaints about U.S. government control are totally beside the point of the human rights issue at stake.
Posted by samgmcf (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's so rare ...
to read a well-considered arguemnet like yours.

The very freedom which allow us to debate this issue is virtually absent in China. As a US citizen, I have the freedom to bash the hypocrisies of the US government (and do often), and I have the freedom to hear and read others' criticism of the my government. These very fundamental freedoms don't exist in China.

Is it so unreasonable to prevent US companies (which enjoy our freedoms) from participating in that repression?
Posted by dosware (13 comments )
Link Flag
Idealism misapplied....
What the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says is
significant only to those who accept it. The Declaration is a
waste of paper for the others. China is free to define its
governmental form without outside interference from anyone. If
you don't like it, see you chaplain and get your TS card punched.

Now, if the Chinese people don't like it, they are the ones who
can and should institute whatever changes they desire. It might
get a little bloody for a while, but that's the price of revolution,
their revolution, not yours.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Previous comments off the mark
Do the previous commentators have no sense of how repressive the Chinese government is, of how much it censors information? Are you unconcerned that American companies are assisting China in its repression -- as Google, Yahoo, Cisco have clearly done? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 19, says, Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. That principle should be sacred to our news media and to our internet companies. But these companies, for their own profit, have not only acquiesed to China's censorship, they have helped them do it.

What they have done is evil and sickening and should be outlawed, period. Complaints about U.S. government control are totally beside the point of the human rights issue at stake.
Posted by samgmcf (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's so rare ...
to read a well-considered arguemnet like yours.

The very freedom which allow us to debate this issue is virtually absent in China. As a US citizen, I have the freedom to bash the hypocrisies of the US government (and do often), and I have the freedom to hear and read others' criticism of the my government. These very fundamental freedoms don't exist in China.

Is it so unreasonable to prevent US companies (which enjoy our freedoms) from participating in that repression?
Posted by dosware (13 comments )
Link Flag
Idealism misapplied....
What the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says is
significant only to those who accept it. The Declaration is a
waste of paper for the others. China is free to define its
governmental form without outside interference from anyone. If
you don't like it, see you chaplain and get your TS card punched.

Now, if the Chinese people don't like it, they are the ones who
can and should institute whatever changes they desire. It might
get a little bloody for a while, but that's the price of revolution,
their revolution, not yours.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
US out of line controlling internet companies
they are seriously out of line controlling these US internet companies.... if anything, this could be called ANTI-censorship, where the govt is forcing companies to push information into other countries. It might be giving people a chance at free information but in doing so, they basically forcing companies to do their will. Not that much different from the Chinese companies forcing their own Chinese internet companies to do censorship. Both govt are forcing things on companies that they have no business doing so.

If they want to change the world, start with the things the govt can do itself, not using companies as pawns for their agenda.
Posted by Thinkforachange (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
US out of line controlling internet companies
they are seriously out of line controlling these US internet companies.... if anything, this could be called ANTI-censorship, where the govt is forcing companies to push information into other countries. It might be giving people a chance at free information but in doing so, they basically forcing companies to do their will. Not that much different from the Chinese companies forcing their own Chinese internet companies to do censorship. Both govt are forcing things on companies that they have no business doing so.

If they want to change the world, start with the things the govt can do itself, not using companies as pawns for their agenda.
Posted by Thinkforachange (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Worst kind of political grandstanding
This is worst kind of political grandstanding by politicians to place themselves as champions of freespeech. This is certainly not the best way of promotion democracy and Human rights in China. Certainly, this kind of thinking is reflection of lack of understanding on the side of politicians.
Posted by YankeePoodle (785 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Worst kind of political grandstanding
This is worst kind of political grandstanding by politicians to place themselves as champions of freespeech. This is certainly not the best way of promotion democracy and Human rights in China. Certainly, this kind of thinking is reflection of lack of understanding on the side of politicians.
Posted by YankeePoodle (785 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google, the censor
We have many laws in this country that limit companies rights to harm people -- knowingly selling defective products, marketing booze to minors, etc. What google is doing is harming people. Their excuse about "having a seat at the table" to make China more open is self-serving BS. Google is in China for the profit motive. As one Congressman said yesterday, Google isn't changing China, China has changed Google. What google is doing cannot be condemned strongly enough. There is no excuse for it. I can't understand why so many bloggers, who should value so much the free flow of information, are defending Google for this unconscionable actions in censoring Google.cn. If they did the same in this country, wow, would you be in an uproar. Do you think freedom of information is less important in China than in the U.S.?
Posted by samgmcf (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google, the censor
We have many laws in this country that limit companies rights to harm people -- knowingly selling defective products, marketing booze to minors, etc. What google is doing is harming people. Their excuse about "having a seat at the table" to make China more open is self-serving BS. Google is in China for the profit motive. As one Congressman said yesterday, Google isn't changing China, China has changed Google. What google is doing cannot be condemned strongly enough. There is no excuse for it. I can't understand why so many bloggers, who should value so much the free flow of information, are defending Google for this unconscionable actions in censoring Google.cn. If they did the same in this country, wow, would you be in an uproar. Do you think freedom of information is less important in China than in the U.S.?
Posted by samgmcf (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
stop stupid thinking
let the media brain-washing ur mind about China.

the only way correct to interpret "freedom" is to respect other's
opinion and right to do it.

judge the other nation's behavior by own country's law, this is
ridiculus and exact count-example of "freedom".
Posted by (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
stop stupid thinking
let the media brain-washing ur mind about China.

the only way correct to interpret "freedom" is to respect other's
opinion and right to do it.

judge the other nation's behavior by own country's law, this is
ridiculus and exact count-example of "freedom".
Posted by (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
can not agree more
whom those politician's think they are?!

when they are controlling the meida, fooling the people (don't tell
me Bush believe Iraq had WMD when he spoke to the nation about
it), conquering the citizen's mind, proposed lie after lie and took
more and more money from poors, how come they elect
themselves as the "agency of freedom"
Posted by (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
can not agree more
whom those politician's think they are?!

when they are controlling the meida, fooling the people (don't tell
me Bush believe Iraq had WMD when he spoke to the nation about
it), conquering the citizen's mind, proposed lie after lie and took
more and more money from poors, how come they elect
themselves as the "agency of freedom"
Posted by (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A Step in the Right Direction
First, remember that we are discussing a draft of a bill. A draft is subject to revision, and so is the resulting bill. Nothing is written in stone, details are subject to change, and a draft is bound to include strongly worded proposals that will undoubtedly be moderated when the bill is released.

Second, something needs to be done about the involvement of U.S. companies in China. While there are gray areas where pariticipation with these governments can reasonably be negotiated, it is wrong for U.S. companies to participate in the jailing or oppression of Chinese people over matters of conscience. Period. End of sentence. If you don't beleive that, what _do_ you believe?

Personally, I think this is an excellent first step with some jaggedly rough edges. Instead of nit-picking a draft of a bill, take up your responsibility to get informed, stay informed, and participate in the discussion, perhaps even attempting to influence the final shape of the bill by communicating with your elected representatives.
Posted by Techno Guy (77 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A Step in the Right Direction
First, remember that we are discussing a draft of a bill. A draft is subject to revision, and so is the resulting bill. Nothing is written in stone, details are subject to change, and a draft is bound to include strongly worded proposals that will undoubtedly be moderated when the bill is released.

Second, something needs to be done about the involvement of U.S. companies in China. While there are gray areas where pariticipation with these governments can reasonably be negotiated, it is wrong for U.S. companies to participate in the jailing or oppression of Chinese people over matters of conscience. Period. End of sentence. If you don't beleive that, what _do_ you believe?

Personally, I think this is an excellent first step with some jaggedly rough edges. Instead of nit-picking a draft of a bill, take up your responsibility to get informed, stay informed, and participate in the discussion, perhaps even attempting to influence the final shape of the bill by communicating with your elected representatives.
Posted by Techno Guy (77 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google, Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Microslof... No more!
Opera search is the only search engine I will use from this day forth.
Posted by solarflair (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google, Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Microslof... No more!
Opera search is the only search engine I will use from this day forth.
Posted by solarflair (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
See the future?
Perhaps I am young and naïve, but does anyone see the future?

The anger people have for America results from laws like these. If we continue down this path, maybe something like the cold war will develop. The USA is putting those nations in an unnecessary crosshair.

A government will want to preserve its way of life. If the USA continues to target other countries, they eventually will be provoked.

Do I get grandfathered out of the Draft if I saw it coming and voted against it?

Things are changing. Its popular to point at all non-followers and call them unpatriotic. America is not as free as I learned about in Government class.

Other governments should have the _freedom_ to do what they want. Even if you hate what they do, they should have the _freedom_ to choose it. And you should be SOL.

America is censored. The freedom is an illusion. I read in the news today that backup coppies of CDs soon will not be considered 'fair use.'

Maybe well have a brain drain?

People are very angry with America. I do not believe that this law will help mend those feelings.
Posted by SmyersM (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
?????
Quote:"Other governments should have the _freedom_ to do what they want. Even if you hate what they do, they should have the _freedom_ to choose it."

Those governments have that freedom. This law prohibits U.S. companies from helping to restrict freedoms of citizens from other countries. How does that make us more hated??

You wrote:"America is censored. The freedom is an illusion. I read in the news today that backup coppies of CDs soon will not be considered 'fair use.'

Based on your arguments that's what we want because we're allowing it. We have a democratic system that allows to vote the idiots out of office.... China doesn't. Unfortunately most Americans continue to re-elect the same morons.

Yes, I understand the U.S. has and still does truly evil things. But, when they take a step that speaks to the contrary, hypocritical or not, I'll support it.
Posted by ScullyB (47 comments )
Link Flag
See the future?
Perhaps I am young and naïve, but does anyone see the future?

The anger people have for America results from laws like these. If we continue down this path, maybe something like the cold war will develop. The USA is putting those nations in an unnecessary crosshair.

A government will want to preserve its way of life. If the USA continues to target other countries, they eventually will be provoked.

Do I get grandfathered out of the Draft if I saw it coming and voted against it?

Things are changing. Its popular to point at all non-followers and call them unpatriotic. America is not as free as I learned about in Government class.

Other governments should have the _freedom_ to do what they want. Even if you hate what they do, they should have the _freedom_ to choose it. And you should be SOL.

America is censored. The freedom is an illusion. I read in the news today that backup coppies of CDs soon will not be considered 'fair use.'

Maybe well have a brain drain?

People are very angry with America. I do not believe that this law will help mend those feelings.
Posted by SmyersM (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
?????
Quote:"Other governments should have the _freedom_ to do what they want. Even if you hate what they do, they should have the _freedom_ to choose it."

Those governments have that freedom. This law prohibits U.S. companies from helping to restrict freedoms of citizens from other countries. How does that make us more hated??

You wrote:"America is censored. The freedom is an illusion. I read in the news today that backup coppies of CDs soon will not be considered 'fair use.'

Based on your arguments that's what we want because we're allowing it. We have a democratic system that allows to vote the idiots out of office.... China doesn't. Unfortunately most Americans continue to re-elect the same morons.

Yes, I understand the U.S. has and still does truly evil things. But, when they take a step that speaks to the contrary, hypocritical or not, I'll support it.
Posted by ScullyB (47 comments )
Link Flag
In reply - Do not agree
I understand your point of view.

I do not agree with all points.

Their people will revolt when they have had enough. It is not our decision to govern them. They do and will govern themselves.

By allowing it, they want it.

It is the right of the people to live THEIR way, not OUR way.

If WE say THEY have X rights. Do they really?

If WE say WE have X rights. Do we really?

Even if you throw out the 'universal' word. Did they agree to them?

It's arguments like the ones you use, that were used to invade Iraq after the WMD were 'missing'

They are powerful and vague/loose arguments that can be used for a myriad of purposes.

Let's say the Flugn nation has oil that we want. Lets say that they have a law that says A Flugnite cannot drink beer. Suddenly we declare its your RIGHT to drink beer. So therefore, i'll invade, to preserve your freedoms and rights. Anyone who talks against, is unpatriotic and needs to leave the nation. Or be censored from the internet.

Oh who knows, it's just my 2c. I'm just a college student, still hoping for the utopia i learned about in High School Government class...
Posted by SmyersM (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In reply - Do not agree
I understand your point of view.

I do not agree with all points.

Their people will revolt when they have had enough. It is not our decision to govern them. They do and will govern themselves.

By allowing it, they want it.

It is the right of the people to live THEIR way, not OUR way.

If WE say THEY have X rights. Do they really?

If WE say WE have X rights. Do we really?

Even if you throw out the 'universal' word. Did they agree to them?

It's arguments like the ones you use, that were used to invade Iraq after the WMD were 'missing'

They are powerful and vague/loose arguments that can be used for a myriad of purposes.

Let's say the Flugn nation has oil that we want. Lets say that they have a law that says A Flugnite cannot drink beer. Suddenly we declare its your RIGHT to drink beer. So therefore, i'll invade, to preserve your freedoms and rights. Anyone who talks against, is unpatriotic and needs to leave the nation. Or be censored from the internet.

Oh who knows, it's just my 2c. I'm just a college student, still hoping for the utopia i learned about in High School Government class...
Posted by SmyersM (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Political Grandstanding
Nice political grandstanding, where the the pot is calling the kettle black!

Welcome to the new Union of the Soviet States of Amerika, where our politicians impose new world order, on the whim of the dear leader and his cronies, where other countries WMD's exist in his mind, never mind reality!

Ain't democracy, with no freedoms wonderful!

Oh well, you pays for what you get, and get what you pays for!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In China, this comment would send you to jail.
Just see my title.
Posted by samgmcf (22 comments )
Link Flag
 

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