Another Bad Intertube Law

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Republican congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey used a meeting with international human rights group Reporters Without Borders last week to lobby for passage of a bill aimed at curtailing U.S. tech companies’ participation in foreign countries’ internet censorship schemes. Smith is hoping that the bill reaches the floor of the house and passes before the Olympics begin in August.

Bad idea from the "Better Dead than Red" Republican Right. This sort of thing just puts companies in a tough position between U.S. and foreign law. Sure, the U.S. has the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which sometimes makes it difficult for U.S. companies to adopt certain local customs that their competitors use to their advantage. However, the FCPA is at least aimed at practices that the Chinese government (at least the Central gov’t) is also trying to curtail. This Internet censorship law would do the exact opposite, working at cross purposes with the Chinese government.

In other words, Chris Smith wants to pass a law mandating that U.S. companies that want to do business in China must disobey Chinese law and/or not cooperate with the Chinese government. Holy crap, that’s stupid.

The good news is that this bill will not get anywhere. The article I read says that Smith’s statement was "little noted" in the press. I guess that Smith will just have to find another way to regulate the Intertubes.