Government makes strides in net policy

TEXT OF STORY

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.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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