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Free Speech and Censorship. Sherwin Siy Staff Counsel Electronic Privacy Information Center. U.S. Tech Companies in China-Dilemmas. Censorship (search results, blog takedowns) Disclosing Personal Information Providing Equipment Used in Censorship. Censorship.

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free speech and censorship

Free Speech and Censorship

Sherwin Siy

Staff Counsel

Electronic Privacy Information Center

u s tech companies in china dilemmas
U.S. Tech Companies in China-Dilemmas
  • Censorship (search results, blog takedowns)
  • Disclosing Personal Information
  • Providing Equipment Used in Censorship
  • Search Results--Yahoo, Google remove certain links
  • Blogs--Microsoft removes blogs posting criticism
disclosing personal information
Disclosing Personal Information
  • Yahoo Disclosures linked email accounts and online postings with:
    • Shi Tao: 10 years for reporting “state secrets”
    • Li Zhi:8 years for “inciting subversion”
    • Jiang Lijun: 4 years for “subversion”
providing equipment used in censorship
Providing Equipment Used in Censorship
  • Cisco
    • Providing Chinese government with network infrastructure that can be used for blocking/filtering
    • Marketing to, training police forces in their use
company responses
Company Responses
  • Bringing the Internet to China
  • The Internet is a tool against repression
  • Must obey local laws and customs
congressional response
Congressional Response
  • Global Online Freedom Act
    • H.R. 4780
    • Introduced Feb. 16, 2004
    • Introduced by Chris Smith (R-NJ)
components of gofa
Components of GOFA
  • Reports on Internet freedom
  • Creates Office of Global Internet Freedom
  • Prohibits altering search results at behest of “Internet-restricting country”
  • Must report filter requests
components of gofa cont d
Components of GOFA (cont’d)
  • U.S.-supported content can’t be blocked
  • Must report blocked info and takedown requests.
  • Cannot turn over personally identifying information to a restrictive country unless OK’d by DOJ
  • Export Controls on censorship equipment
issues with gofa
Issues with GOFA
  • Restrictive / non-restrictive list
    • Should it matter what country does the filtering, blocking, or takedown request?
issues with gofa11
Issues with GOFA
  • Transparency:
    • Both transparency provisions require reporting of filtering and takedowns to OGIF, not to users
issues with gofa12
Issues with GOFA
  • Special protections for US content
    • Why privilege US gov’t speech?
issues with gofa13
Issues with GOFA
  • Integrity of User Information
    • Department of Justice has final word on turning over information
    • Transparency issues to begin with
    • Again, is the distinction necessary?
  • Transparency
    • For users, not just government. If must remove results, say how many, under what authority, according to what complaint.
  • Notice of Requests
    • Users should know what information kept, what requested, have a chance to object
  • Abide by International Law
    • Interpret and argue under local laws
  • Limitation
    • If you can’t protect it, don’t collect it
principles should be universally applied
Principles Should be Universally Applied
  • Transparency: DMCA, hate speech filtering
  • Notice of requests: John Doe suits
  • Data limitation: DoJ/ Google requests
  • Don’t just roll over: see above
what to do
What to Do?
  • Legislation is a blunt instrument
  • Pressure from companies can make a difference
  • Company incentives to acquiesce to China demands--profit
  • Pressures against censorship that affect bottom line might alter incentive structure
  • Fighting censorship starts at home
issues to watch
Issues to Watch
  • Data retention-in EU, US
  • Regulation of disfavored content and disfavored means-pornography, file sharing
  • Thin end of the wedge (child pornography campaign)
  • Mission creep