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Bill Radke: Back to Washington now, Silicon Valley meets State Department today. It's one of a series of encounters between high-tech executives and government officials on the issue of Internet freedom overseas. Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman says the stakes are high for foreign policy and American business.


Mitchell Hartman: At a Senate hearing this week, Democrat Dick Durbin sent a blunt warning to American technology companies: Help repressive regimes censor the Web, spy on e-mail, or jam social networks, and you could face the long arm of the law.

Elisa Massimino: Companies that think this doesn't affect them, or that it's just about Google, are in for a rude awakening.

That's Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First. She says in supporting Google's fight against Chinese censorship, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has articulated a new "human right": to connect freely to the Internet without government interference or punishment.

Massimino: The degree to which companies don't get on board with this voluntarily, I think they're going to increasingly see regulation and even criminal sanction.

There is a voluntary code of conduct for companies pledging not to help suppress dissent. But only Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are on board so far. The administration, meanwhile, is providing about $20 million to support activist groups and new technology to get around Internet censorship overseas.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

Follow Mitchell Hartman at @entrepreneurguy