Rep. Smith readies bill aimed at companies doing business in China

When Google announced its censor-friendly Chinese website, it unleashed a political firestorm that is still gearing up. None of the Big 3 search companies nor Cisco was willing to turn up for an informational briefing last week but a hearing on Wednesday will not be so easy to avoid.

When Google announced its censor-friendly Chinese website, it unleashed a political firestorm that is still gearing up. None of the Big 3 search companies nor Cisco was willing to turn up for  an informational  briefing last week but a  hearing on Wednesday will not be so easy to avoid, News.com reports. On top of that, Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, is drafting a bill to control how and when Internet companies go along with censorship efforts.

Spokesman Brad Dayspring said a full draft bill would not be released before the bill's formal introduction. But according to a summary provided by his office, Smith intends to propose at least four major changes: requiring companies to locate their e-mail servers outside of companies or markets deemed repressive by the Department of State; establishing a basic code of conduct for companies operating in such areas; setting export controls on "certain technologies" to countries restricting free speech; and creating an Office of Global Internet Freedom at the State Department to coordinate a global strategy.

Besides the search companies, the The House subcommittee is also slated to hear from two State Department officials and representatives from Radio Free Asia, the University of California's China Internet Project, the China Information Center, a Virginia-based Internet publication, and Reporters Without Borders.

Meanwhile, Yahoo was slammed by Reporters Without Borders for allegedly turning over a dissident's contact information and communications, which prompted the company to issue a statement, stating they will:

"continue to employ rigorous procedural protections under applicable laws" when approached for information. It also says "if we are required to restrict search results, we will strive to achieve maximum transparency to the user."