Global Online Freedom Act of 2006 = GARBAGE

22 comments

The proposed Global Online Freedom Act of 2006 is at best arrogant, pompous and hypocritical.

From it:

- China, Iran and Vietnam would be initially designated as Internet-restricting countries based on systematic curbs on Internet freedom. Twelve other countries, including Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan are identified as restrictive, subject to annual reviews.

- U.S. firms which create, provide or host Internet search engines would be forbidden to locate their search engines within designated Internet-restricting countries.

- U.S. firms would be forbidden to alter the search engines in response to requests from Internet-restricting countries or make changes that produced search engine results within restricting countries that differ from results elsewhere.

- U.S. search engine providers must transparently share with the U.S. Office of Global Internet freedom details of terms or parameters submitted by Internet-restricting countries.

- U.S. businesses maintaining Internet content hosting services can personally identify users only for cases of legitimate law enforcement purposes as determined by the U.S. Department of Justice.

So the U.S. DOJ wants to be the worldwide web police then? Is the idea of this proposed bill to keep information freely accessible?

If so then why is the Whitehouse blocking robots in their robots.txt file? Why is the DOJ blocking THEIR OWN archives? Why did the U.S. government recently request so much data from the search engines for filtering if they want information to be freely accessible?

To me this bill, if passed, might put some clout into local search business models. With the U.S government being this pompous and arrogant I really can't fault Europe for wanting to create their own engine.

Comments

What's this about?

Didn't know about that, what is it? Some US politicians thinking on behalf of the globe, or what?

mostly bad

>- China, Iran and Vietnam would be initially designated as Internet-restricting countries based on systematic curbs on Internet freedom. Twelve other countries, including Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan are identified as restrictive, subject to annual reviews.

Okay, fine, but what will this accomplish besides adding more fuel to the fire?

>- U.S. firms which create, provide or host Internet search engines would be forbidden to locate their search engines within designated Internet-restricting countries.

This is just stupid, and must be written by someone who doesn't understand the interent. Y, MSN and G do not have to have a data-center located in said countries to serve results within. And restricting access to theses countries is the opposite of freedom

>- U.S. firms would be forbidden to alter the search engines in response to requests from Internet-restricting countries or make changes that produced search engine results within restricting countries that differ from results elsewhere.

That's interesting, but I can't imagine that going far. And how would you enforce this anyway? What about regionally applied filters, local search and all that? It would be nice if the SEs did not cave into the will of respective governments, but I don't see that happening, not with the risk of losing the markets of a billion plus people.

>- U.S. search engine providers must transparently share with the U.S. Office of Global Internet freedom details of terms or parameters submitted by Internet-restricting countries.

Wouldn't it be great if this data was instead made freely available to the public at large instead of being handed over to the US Gov, that would be so much more democratic than having the info sit in a vault in the NSA.

>- U.S. businesses maintaining Internet content hosting services can personally identify users only for cases of legitimate law enforcement purposes as determined by the U.S. Department of Justice.

I like this one, and it is a shame it is attached to such an otherwise silly bill.

Must be Texans

Cause only this much BULLSHIT can come from a Texan in Congress

References:
See George Bush

Congressional Link Baiting

Put this down as Congressional link baiting. Elections are coming up and the Congresscritters want some attention and found that public and media attention about this issue is deeper than they (or Y!, Google or MSN) expected so they are looking to get a little PR milage out of it.

incrediWrong

Cause only this much BULLSHIT can come from a Texan in Congress

Congress != George Bush
George Bush is in the Executive Branch of Government. Congress is the Legislative Branch.

I think Brad is right. its '06 half the senators are up for re-election. Same old same old. Even if it did get passed by (Legislative Branch) and signed into law by (Executive Branch) it would most likely get owned in the (Judicial Branch) like most stupid laws do. San Jose falls under the 9th circuit courts (The most Liberal) so this will be owned quickly and tied up and bogged down for years.

I love checks and balances :)

Arrogant, pompous, and hypocritcal **comments**

To my fellow SEM/SEO colleagues who seem to have so clearly grasped the essence of the China search engine policy debate,

You may know link strategy and meta-tagging, but you don't seem to know how to put together a valid argument - hence the name-calling, assumptive tone you take in dismissing US Govt proposed legislation in this area. Allow me, therefore, to disabuse you of your own blatant arrogance, pompous attitude and hypocritical comments, for that is what they are.

1)Acknowledge that the Cold War was won because of the U.S. taking a hard line against the Soviet Union. We forced them into an arms race and economic race that they could not win and which bankrupted the country.

2)Acknowledge that at no point did America ever make compromises in its foreign policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Acknowledge that this consistent show of principles - followed by consistent actions mirroring our principles - is what won the Cold War.

3)Now, admit that Russia - after an expected period of post-Communist turmoil - is finally & clearly starting to enjoy the economic renaissance that goes with capitalism and private property. Please do not expose yourself as a lunatic by saying that people in the former Soviet republics would have been better off had the U.S. not shown steadfast adherence to its democratic principles during the Cold War.

4)Assuming your left-leaning ideology & sparse political education as youths have not blinded you to self-evident geopolitical realities such as those described above, now consider that the U.S. is in the midst of a massive outsourcing of production to China. Otherwise said, the Chinese communist government has been able to improve the lot of its citizens NOT by giving them political freedoms we enjoy in the West, but rather by taking advantage of our free-market economies to supply goods at lower cost. Simply, the U.S. desire for material goods has led us to artificially prop up a communist govt that would otherwise have *more* impetus to democratize than it has had to date.
Following me?

5)In that context it becomes very clear why the U.S. govt is interested in obliging U.S. search engines to align their China censorship position with long-term U.S. policy goals, and, I hope, it's evident even to you who love to jump on the anti-U.S. bandwagon that your vapid arguments have no basis in modern geopolitics. Of course, you could argue that U.S. policy goals are not necessarily the goals of the rest of the world, but you would be wrong. The beauty of American foreign policy is that it is well-aligned with the economic and political uplift of people in all countries, not just the U.S., for free people and open societies make for stronger economies and thus stronger U.S. business partners.

The principled American policy of encouraging democracy overseas is sound, and one needs only consider the Chinese or Russian alternatives to conclude that Google, Yahoo and other U.S. search engines who have caved to the communist Chinese govt are doing the world a disservice in the long-term, an oversight for which lovers of individual freedom, democracy and free-market capitalism would do well to speak up against.

-Shorebreak

IncrediMETAPHOR

Congress != George Bush
George Bush is in the Executive Branch of Government. Congress is the Legislative Branch.

I didn't say Bush was in CONGRESS - I used him as a REFERENCE of Texans full of BULLSHIT.

The joke isn't funny now, you mucked it all up explaining something that didn't need explanation, some people.

Congressional link baiting?

Congressional Link Baiting? Did Nick Wilson and his Blog Nation coin that phrase?

;-0

Shorebreak

I am hoping you'd be willing to clarify some of your statments. I often have a hard time getting past my left wing ideology and sparse political education (this is only partially sarcastic, I don't claim to understand geopolitics).

Points 1-3 are obvious, we all lived through it. Arms race is not the safest strategy to employ, (possibly risking the lives of every creature on earth) but we were lucky and it worked well.

I would also agree with your assertions on point 4: massive outsourcing to China is propping up an economy that might be otherwise more likely to consider more democratic strategies.

So here we are, fueling the economy of a communist country to feed our desire for cheap goods. At the same time, we are not going to permit US search engines to conform to Chinese censorship laws.

On one hand we are sending them a clear message that we won't abide or cooperate with censorship, on the other hand we are making it possible for the oppressive government to continue to function. Surely I am misunderstanding this situation or missing something?

the Cold War was won...

the Cold War was won because...

It was lost by Russia because of Russia's idealistic and flawed economic and social structure.

at no point did America ever make compromises in its foreign policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union.

luckily someone did or we would all probably be dead right now
http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/seaservices/7_40/local_news/19689-1.html

Now, admit that Russia - after an expected period of post-Communist turmoil - is finally & clearly starting to enjoy the economic renaissance

maybe in parts, but I don't think it is one size fits all and I do remember some of their leading energy companies on the sales block rather recently. here is the other side of THAT story
http://www.correspondences.org/archives/000717.html

Once all the assets had been transferred to the oligarchs, who were becoming fabulously wealthy, it was a simple matter for them to liquidate those assets by selling them to the US and other Western countries, and then laundering their money through US financial institutions such as the Bank of New York. ... Billions of dollars accrued to Bank of New York executives and stockholders in 1999. ...

Compounding the pillage, a number of investment schemes sponsored by the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), an d number of congressionally mandated "enterprise funds" were designed for individuals, Russian corporations, and banks. In essence, these initiatives wound up being huge money laundries. The domestic bond market's highly unjustified returns, paid with IMF loans, attracted eager investors, and soon developed into a classic pyramid scheme. As quickly as the IMF, the World Bank, and other financial entities lent the money to Russia to realize mind-boggling returns for favored players, the money was taken right back out of Russia. Those huge sums, initially provided by taxpayers, returned to Wall Street, US banks, and Harvard

The outcome of this maneuvering was the total collapse of the Russian economy. The impact on the Russian people was catastrophic: unemployment skyrocketed; prices skyrocketed; pensions, savings, and private bank accounts collapsed with the closure of the banks. With the collapse of the economy and the banking system, ordinary Russians ultimately saw a return on their savings of 25 cents on the dollar. People froze, starved and died. It is estimated that $500 BILLION in real money was looted from Russia.

In that context it becomes very clear why the U.S. govt is interested in obliging U.S. search engines to align their China censorship position with long-term U.S. policy goals

to be honest I think the goals are two fold:

  1. free publicity
  2. keep China citizens uneducated and under waged for our own gain. It is much harder to extract profit from someone else's stable efficient system than it is to loot an inefficient one. just look at the Russia link above.

DarkMatter's post feeds well into point #2

Response to good questions

Darkmatter - I agree with your point that there is irony, and likely hypocrisy, in forcing anti-censorship measures on the one hand and outsourcing U.S. manufacturing to China on the other hand. In fact, I would go so far as to say that America needs to actively promote alternative - albeit still international - sources of manufacturing in order to free U.S. foreign policy from the economic constraints that reliance on China engenders. So we're in full agreement, I think.

SeoBook - I'll be the last person to say that the Cold War wasn't dangerous, but it existed and within it the U.S. had the right policy to end it using Russia's weak, communist-limited economy as the weakness our capitalist economy could exploit.

As for point #2, while I'll acknolwedge that cheap Chinese imports have staved off otherwise inevitable inflation in the U.S., the truth of China is that all economic boats are rising there, thanks to the demand generated by the open, democratic, American (and Western) society & economy. The notion that U.S. officials want to keep Chinese uneducated and therefore cheap labor may make for a nice novel, but it's just not true. Likewise, one needs simply to look at who the largest holder of American dollars and debt is (China) to understand that it is the Chinese - and not the American - government who is profiting from their own economic, social, and political inefficiencies.

It's funny you should mention point #2, because educated foreign policy wonks around the world are coming to exactly the opposite conclusion; namely that corrupt Chinese Communist Party leaders are propping up Communism there to achieve the two-fold aim of filling their own pockets due to lack of transparency, and taking over control of the American economy as a means to controlling American foreign policy.

-Shorebreak

Shorebreak I think I agree

Shorebreak I think I agree with 99% of what you said. But I'm conservative, I voted for Bush, I'm registered as a Republican. With that being said bills and government agencies are NOT the solution. They are just adding to the size of our ever growing Big Government.

Hell I didn't give Aaron a single dime for his legal fees because in his original blog post he stated he would give any excess funds to a few organizations. The ACLU being one of them. The ACLU flat out are aiding and abetting terrorists an their own dictates match some of the same sensorship that China is imposing on their citizens. He took them down as a recepient but just so you know the battle is on both fronts.

Anyone buy a holiday tree from Target this past Christmas? Just FYI the battle is on both fronts when it comes to this crap. The left is playing both sides of the fence on this one. lol

Let G,Y and MSN into China, if they sensor as well as they filter spam China will be a Capitalist society in no time. :)

Uhm...

Shorebreak, I'm not an American citizen, I'm from Europe. We Europeans tend to mention Hitler and the World War when we are in short supply of arguments just like you Americans tend to mention "Russia" (meaning USSR), and the Cold War.

For what it's worth, I really don't see how Russia, or the Cold War, is related to this discussion at all. IMHO, it's just as irrelevant as if I had mentioned Hitler.

But now that you mention it, that particular "cold" war was fought over Europe and that "arms race" you mention was run over our heads (figuratively speaking). Europe was unfortunately stuck between a rock and a hard place for decades (literally) while the governments of USSR as well as USA were relatively safe at home, playing global geopolitics over our heads.

Speak of the US to an European and what we see is "the lesser of two evils". Certainly not a democracy like we have them in Europe, but still way better than a communist state.

So, don't mistake lack of trust in US policy for love of communist ditto. I certainly dislike communist USSR as much as any American would (and probably more, as the average American has always been very far away from USSR), but that does not mean that I agree with everything related to US policy.

- U.S. businesses maintaining Internet content hosting services can personally identify users only for cases of legitimate law enforcement purposes as determined by the U.S. Department of Justice.

This was the part of the original post I responded to.

When will US politicians ever learn that the US laws are not the same laws that the rest of the world has (including, but not limited to the democratic, western, rest of the world).

I find it very probable that something would be deemed "legitimate law enforcement purposes as determined by the U.S. Department of Justice." - which wouldn't be offensive to any law where I live.

For christ sake, you live in a country where certain states have prohibited certain sexual practises? WTF's up with that? And that's a very innocent example, not even related to politics in the traditional sense. It's a bloody joke, that's what it is - not a modern democracy by any stretch of the word.

So, if I happen to be doing business with a US hosting company -- or perhaps use a website owned by someone who are -- then suddently my privacy is no longer protected like it is in the laws of the country I live in?

I dislike being dragged down to the low US level, and I dislike even more that people perceive the US standards as being high. Yes, relative to China, or to Saudi Arabia, but as seen from a modern western democracy... Well, enough is enough.

Buy Danish!

Hi Claus,

First off, check out my blog post on the whole Mohammed cartoon thing - http://searchquant.blogspot.com/2006/02/buy-danish.html

To use one of Chirac's better lines, in this trying time, we are *all* Danish citizens.

My wife's French and we live an extremly French life here in Silicon Valley, including hanging out primarily with French, Senegalese, Swiss and Indian friends. So I know the whole European viewpoint, and as you can imagine my viewpoints tend to put me at odds politically with a European way of life that I otherwise generally agree with. I've also lived 6 years of my life in France.

Which puts me in a reasonable position to say the following:

First, mentioning the Cold War makes perfect sense. Global trade is warfare conducted in the field of economics, and in that context talking about the history of the Cold War makes perfect sense. But I do promise not to bring up WWII #:^)

Second, I fail to grasp the implied superiority of having no laws in place as relates to sexual conduct. Most European countries - including yours - have ultra-low birthrates that make importing low-wage foreigners a necessity. Perhaps if sexual laws there prohibited anything but intercourse that's likely to lead to preganancy, your government wouldn't be in the pickle it's in as relates to freedom of speech.

As for your last point about being 'dragged down to the low US level', I won't dignify that with a response, other than to say that there is no shortage of Europeans who either love living in the U.S. for the opportunity it affords them, or who are over on your side of the pond and desperate to be here. America is importing at low/no cost much of Europe's brainpower, and that's because we are the most free, thriving democracy in the world.

Please go back and review my original arguments and debate them; but stay away from the European superiority thing; it doesn't work over here, or anywhere else for that matter.

-Shorebreak

prohibited sexual practices

That may be the law but politicians figure out how to skirt those laws and screw us upside down and inside out, so pay no heed to those laws as the government could easily be registered as a sex offender.

LOL good one :)

But then what's up with prohibiting (online) casinos then? (Why) Isn't that free trade?

(and on that issue even my own government sucks)

Shorebreak, Let me guess,

Shorebreak,

Let me guess, you've never been to (or lived in) China.

I have.

And the conclusions that people who have never been there draw about it are almost always waaaay off. Ask Shak :-)

Well...

- I was going to delete that comment as I could see it wasn't likely to be read as it was intendend to. But it's rather hard to explain the stuff I tried to, as it's a question about a totally different mentality. I'll try once more.

As an example I don't think Europe is "superior", but I still think the US level is low in some instances (and not in every instance). There are good and bad things in both regions.

The only thing I disagree with 100% is that markets are war. Markets aren't war. Markets are about creation and war is about destruction. It's opposites. Even though there's a market for gunpower and manpower to be disposed in war. Neither of them are building blocks. Yes there is destruction by market forces as well, but that destruction happens only when something else is erected.

And as for people working abroad, many Americans work over here too. Probably because we offer them greater opportunity and because we have the most free, thriving democracies in the world. I'm sure I don't have to mention that there are people desperate to leave US as well, do I? Well, I'm sure there are in every country, including mine.

And regarding freedom of speech my government isn't in a pickle. A few embassies have been attacked, but we've still got freedom of speech. So has the press. Not all countries can say that, mind you. I can easily think of other countries, even some united states (and a few European ones as well), that are worse off than we are. But then there's a jump from that to the Chinese conditions, and then there are probably worse places than China still.

Anyway, the foreigners we imported were imported around 30 years ago - the past decade or more it's been made increasingly more difficult to get into the country. These days it isn't even enough to get married or have a child with a Dane - you can still get kicked out with a police escort from one day to the next.

If anything, you can rightfully wave the human rights stick at my country (and quite possibly the racism stick as well, as we do have a nationalist party in government) so it's not all rosy-red - but, we still import quite a few high-wage highly qualified foreigners, including American ones.

He... don't get mad Shorebreak, I hear what you're saying and I'm not sure I disagree but... well, your US superiority thing doesn't work over here. We've got at least as many problems as you have over there. And good things too :)

It's not that the US way or the European way is the single best way to do things -- at least not to me -- but they are different ways. Being an European I am not an American. It's as simple as that, really.

My personal opinion is that any people should be allowed to settle in whatever country they choose, say whatever they like, and trade whatever they choose with whomever they like at whatever price the free market sets. I'm not sure if that's a "liberal" or "conservative" opinion as even those parties are an American phenomenon, and as an outsider I can't always tell which is which.

All I know is that I'm sure it's not the same philosophy as the Saudi's, the Chinese or the former USSR administration.

Anyway, I like reading your comments Shorebreak, we could probably get some interesting discussions over a few beers.

Freedom of speech

Just be careful where you park your package

>> I still think the US level is low in some instances

That's what happens when you homogenize all of europe in a single nation, all the kinky fethishes get outlawed, sucks, then the greek immigrants came and they noticed they missed a kink.

Peter D pointed at a good

Peter D pointed at a good article on self censorship in the media. Well worth a read.

That's it, exactly!

( I'm sorry that the writer is so anti-Bush, as apart from that he hit the nail on the head. I'm afraid some readers will stumble over his anti-Bush attitude and focus on that in stead of his real message.)

This is what I hinted at with "some united states" in my post above. And you don't need to dig very deep into this before you start to worry, so go ahead. I'm just not going to tell you, as why should you trust some guy that doesn't even live in the US, so you'll have to find out for yourself.

For the same reason I normally dislike discussing international affairs with people from the US (regardless of their political observation, left/right/center) - we just don't see the world the same way.

There's a very distinct and very real "tunnel vision" that every American seems to get. And don't blame Bush for this, as he's not to blame. It was the same under Clinton and before him. I'm not blaming The National Press Club either even though every president seems to be a member there. In fact I don't know who or what to blame, but I've been (pre)occupied with "the media" for a decade or more, so it's extremely apparent to me.

From the article (please ignore the "hate" bit):

Europeans and Arabs see the horror wreaked in our name on their airwaves, assume that we see the same imagery and hate us for not giving a damn. America's self-censors make anti-Americanism worse.

I wouldn't say anybody I know "hate" anyone, but we wonder a lot, and we tend to get pretty scared too. Yes, I belive scared is the right word - not for fear of islamic extremists, but for fear of common americans being misled (and no, I'm not thinking about Bush here).

I mean, some stuff can be extremely apparent, being broadcast in prime-time, yet it seems like no American ever question it, and don't even know about it. To an outsider it really does look like nobody from the US cares about the rest of the world, unless some US citizen breaks a leg or some other minor thing.

Somebody (Aaron?) posted a link about a submarine during the Cuban Missile Crisis in which the crew weren't informed about the world outside, but in stead were fed with news about the harvest back home. To me it often seems like that must be how the average American perceives the world.

I don't know who started the whole "Political correctness" programme, but combine that with the propaganda of the day and it's not a whole lot different from what goes on in China. Except, China's million people army tend to stay inside their own country.

I hope this clarified my point that I really don't give a damn about President Bush or any president before him regardless of party, but I'm pretty scared about my "big brother" (the US of A), as even though I like him a lot I think he's on drugs and that's pretty dangerous with all the fireworks he has.

Perhaps this also offered some insight into more general European beliefs and attitudes. One can always hope.

----
(I might delete all my posts in this thread - I'm not sure if they do any good anyway, and they're surely not intended to offend anyone.)

I like your posts Claus.

I like your posts Claus. They are thoughtful and insightful. I would hate to see them go.

I think you say what I mean better than I do. Shady crap was going on when Clinton was in office too.
http://www.diamandagalas.com/defixiones/StLouis0995.htm
It is not either side that is the problem. It is how the media intereact with all of it.

It is the idea that these are the only two sides and they are what you need to focus on. Spinning up the sides talking points and then leaving out the important information needed to create a intelligent judgement of what is going on is absolutely bogus.

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