“Internet freedom can be promoted in two ways, through legislation that mandates or prohibits certain activities, or through industry self regulation. Current legislation under consideration by Congress, the Global Online Freedom Act of 2011 (H.R. 3605), would prohibit or require reporting of the sale of Internet technologies and provision of Internet services to Internet restricting countries (as determined by the State Department). Some believe, however, that technology can offer a complementary and, in some cases, better and more easily implemented solution to ensuring Internet freedom. They argue that hardware and Internet services, in and of themselves, are neutral elements of the Internet; it is how they are implemented by various countries that is repressive. Also, Internet services are often tailored for deployment to specific countries; however, such tailoring is done to bring the company in line with the laws of that country, not with the intention of allowing the country to repress and censor its citizenry. In many cases, that tailoring would not raise many questions about free speech and political repression. This report provides information about federal and private sector efforts to promote and support global Internet freedom and a description of Internet freedom legislation and hearings from the 112th Congress. Three appendixes suggest further reading on this topic and describe censorship and circumvention technologies.”
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