Rep. Smith looks for Internet freedom allies

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) is trying to gin up support for his revised version of a bill aiming to promote Internet freedom.

The new Global Online Freedom Act would prevent Internet companies from filtering or blocking basic political or religious terms unless they disclose those terms to the State Department.

The bill would also ban Internet companies from storing any personally identifiable information about users within the borders of restrictive countries.

In a "dear colleague" letter asking for co-sponsors, Smith said the bill "asserts a government responsibility to protect free speech and restore public confidence in U.S. business--responsibilities Congress can never delegate to the private sector."

Internet freedom became a hot topic when Google said its infrastructure had been the target of what appeared to be China-sponsored cyber attacks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to make Internet freedom a priority and the White House said it supported Google's potential exit from China.

The Senate will also raise the Internet freedom question again on Tuesday. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law will hear testimony from representatives from Google, the State Department, the Commerce Department, and McAfee.