WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 9, 2010) – U.S. Congressman David Wu (OR-1st), in cooperation with Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), launched the Global Internet Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives this week.
The caucus is a bipartisan congressional organization that will promote peaceful free expression on the Internet and serve as a forum for members of Congress, the executive branch, and U.S. industry to discuss and debate ideas on how to enhance online freedom and address minimum standards of conduct for U.S. businesses that operate in Internet-suppressing countries.
“The Internet is not only a vital part of today’s innovation society – where ingenuity and entrepreneurship are necessary elements of survival in our global economy – it is also the most powerful engine for the free exchange of information and ideas in human history,” Congressman Wu said. “While the spread of digital media technology is a tremendous force for good, it also faces a number of threats from those who seek to control information, quell dissent, and censor non-violent free expression.
Wu said that as both the public and private sectors of the United States work to expand access to the Internet around the world, it is vital to continue to uphold the values that underlie an innovative society. He said that in an ever-changing digital world, free people must work together to appeal to the “better angels of our nature and strive not just for prosperity, but for freedom.”
“This caucus will help the dialogue between human rights and business when it comes to Internet freedom,” said Clothilde Le Coz, Washington Director of Reporters Without Borders USA. “Since the beginning of the year, top U.S. officials publicly showed their commitment to Internet freedom. We now hope this caucus will help to guarantee that these words will be respected and to move forward in terms of online free speech.”
Congressman Wu also introduced a bill that same day that is aimed at countering online censorship. The bill, the Internet Freedom Act of 2010, directs the National Science Foundation to establish an Internet Freedom Foundation, which would provide competitive grants and incentive awards to universities, private industry, and other research and development organizations for the purpose of developing technologies to defeat Internet suppression and censorship.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow during which Google will testify about its efforts to promote Internet freedom, including its announcement in January that it is no longer willing to censor search results in China.