Thursday, May 29, 2008

CONGRESS ON FOREIGN INTERNET OPPRESSION

CONGRESS YESTERDAY CONSIDERED HOW to resolve the dilemma of U.S. Internet companies that try to serve their customers but end up serving repressive foreign governments. Witnesses at a congressional hearing talked about dissidents in China, Syria and Russia who were imprisoned after posting their political thoughts on the Internet.

Routers, e-mail and other Internet services of U.S. companies helped the foreign governments track down the dissidents in some cases, the witnesses told members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on human rights and the law.

"Cisco┬┤s routers are supercomputers," said Shiyu Zhou, deputy director of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, a group that advocates against political censorship of the Internet. "They can be used as a toys, but they can also be made into an A-bomb."

He was referring to the Chinese government's Golden Shield Project, sometimes referred to as the Great Firewall of China. It is a censorship and surveillance program run by China's Ministry of Public Security that began operating in November 2003.

The Global Internet Freedom Consortium says Cisco Systems Inc.'s contract with the Chinese government to help build the Golden Shield program enabled Chinese police to find and arrest dissidents by tracking their Internet postings back to the source.

"They can make it into an A-bomb to make it do whatever the Golden Shield needs," Mr. Zhou said about Cisco's computer systems.

Well, our wonderfully sluggish US Congress finally awakens from their slumber on this issue that has caught the attention of concerned industry pundits for at least a decade. Damned American greed once again strikes at the hearts of the innocents, just to gain a foothold in market share (and the misplaced hope that these governments will either loosen up or the people will somehow rise up against their oppressors by luck of Western technologies. Read the entire Washington Times article.

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