Rep. Smith: Google makes ‘180-degree turn’ on bill backing Internet freedom

Google’s threat earlier this week to close its operations in China over government censorship represents an about-face for the company, which until recently has been filtering search results based on the Chinese government’s rules. In a 2006 congressional hearing, Google refused to reveal what information it censored in China.

Smith’s bill primarily targets Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Cisco, companies he views as the “chief violators” of human rights because of their restrictions on the speech of Chinese Internet users.

Google’s support for the bill puts it and other technology companies at odds with the local laws in countries in which they operate.

{mosads}The bill also bans Internet companies from storing any personally identifiable information about users within the borders of restrictive countries.

Smith, along with Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) and Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), on Thursday called on all technology companies to follow Google’s lead and stand up to restrictive regimes abroad.

They also called on House leaders to pass the Global Online Freedom Act, which passed three committees last Congress but never made it to the floor. Smith has reintroduced the bill.

“Do not let American firms become evil by not giving them the support they need from Congress to do the right thing,” Smith said.

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