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October 23, 2007

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Charles Liu

In reality it's only a US law isn't it. How hegemonistic of us to assume our law can be applied to rule the world?

mahathir_fan

I think its some what nice that something like that is happening but ultimately, it is the people who needs to fight and protect their rights.

Also there is the issue of what is perceived as the right thing. For example, Western presses say that Chinese authorities jail pro-democracy authors. But from the Chinese viewpoint, Communism is democracy so they are not anti-democracy. In fact, every Communist is pro-democracy. Just like how some people are seen as terrorists by some, but freedom fighters by others.

Stephanie Willerton

Rebecca,

Very eloquently expressed. You are the only person I've read who has connected the dots between the debate over U.S. telcos' role in government-imposed surveillance and GOFA.

Although GOFA is well-intentioned, Congress should ensure the privacy of U.S. citizens' electronic communications BEFORE passing legislation restricting American companies operating in Internet-censoring countries abroad.

Meanwhile, what can be done to encourage U.S. telcos to join the growing voluntary initiative on Internet freedom and privacy? As of today they are conspicuously absent. Joining the initiative would appear to be in their (and their customers') best interests.

John G

The bill is hypocritical as well because the US does NOTHING to impose sanctions on China (except re IP) and almost nothing serious to complain to or about China, for its continual abuse of its citizens (and citizens of other countries it happens to catch). So Congress will happily impose obligations on US companies but won't put its own mouth or money where it wants companies to go. Wouldn't want to interfere with all those investment opportunities for US companies offshoring their production to China, would they? Much less have China start divesting itself of the huge amounts of US dollars it holds, causing problems for the US economy.

mahathir_fan

Free Access to information is not helpful unless the person accessing it has the ability to critically process that information.

For example, if a person is superstitious and believe that "walking on fire without getting burnt" is a supernatural ability or that "prayer can heal diseases", then having more free accesses to such information will only lead that person to increasing stupidity.

So if the people are not fighting for this freedom, then it is clear that they have yet to have the ability to critically process information. They accept the status quo, if the status quo is that some content are censored, they accept it. If they read somewhere in the internet that the Communist party is evil, they will accept that also. So if they are behaving like pawns that are easily manipulated, then access to information is not important for them.

When people learn to not be easily influenced and manipulated by what they read, only then information is useful.


I am not sure why a system of voluntary compliance would be more likely to achieve the result of preventing U.S. companies from facilitating censorship overseas. Isn't voluntary self-regulation by industry usually a last-ditch effort by companies with a record of transgression to avoid accountability?

The underlying assumption of your post, that the U.S. government is never to be trusted, seems overly simplistic. It assumes that the government is a sort of monolith, when in fact it is a multi-faceted entity. Sure, the executive may engage in acts with which we disapprove, but Congress can push back, and give individuals the power to push back, by passing laws prohibiting its actions. And that is precisely what proponents of the Global Online Freedom Act hope Congress will do in this case.

Yet another reason to question the self-regulation approach is that the entities concerned have had the capacity to regulate themselves for years, and yet have failed to do so. Why are we to think that this round of voluntary compliance will be more successful?

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