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Free Speech and Censorship

Free Speech and Censorship

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Free Speech and Censorship

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  1. Free Speech and Censorship Sherwin Siy Staff Counsel Electronic Privacy Information Center

  2. U.S. Tech Companies in China-Dilemmas • Censorship (search results, blog takedowns) • Disclosing Personal Information • Providing Equipment Used in Censorship

  3. Censorship • Search Results--Yahoo, Google remove certain links • Blogs--Microsoft removes blogs posting criticism

  4. 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”

  5. 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

  6. Company Responses • Bringing the Internet to China • The Internet is a tool against repression • Must obey local laws and customs

  7. Congressional Response • Global Online Freedom Act • H.R. 4780 • Introduced Feb. 16, 2004 • Introduced by Chris Smith (R-NJ)

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. Issues with GOFA • Restrictive / non-restrictive list • Should it matter what country does the filtering, blocking, or takedown request?

  11. Issues with GOFA • Transparency: • Both transparency provisions require reporting of filtering and takedowns to OGIF, not to users

  12. Issues with GOFA • Special protections for US content • Why privilege US gov’t speech?

  13. 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?

  14. Principles • 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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