Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman Announces Formation of Global Internet Freedom Caucus

March 25, 2010

   Mr. KAUFMAN. Madam President, yesterday I was joined by Senators Brownback, Lieberman and Casey, in introducing the newly formed Senate Caucus for Global Internet Freedom. I ask unanimous consent that the text of my comments be printed in the Record.

   There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

   Senator Brownback and I created this caucus--together with Senators Durbin, Lieberman, Casey, McCain, Johanns, Barrasso, Menendez, and Risch--to promote the right to free expression, free press, free assembly, and free speech via the Internet and other forms of connective technology.

   The Internet has presented infinite opportunities for communication throughout the world. It is an incredible tool for reaching people of all nationalities, faiths, and ethnicities in their own language, and promoting new channels for education and news. The free exchange of ideas in a globalized world is essential to economic and political progress, and we are gathered here today to reaffirm our commitment to this issue.

   The Caucus will provide bipartisan leadership within the Congress supporting robust engagement by the public and private sectors to secure digital freedoms throughout the world. Joining with our colleagues who have established a similar caucus in the House, the Senate will continue to advance global Internet freedom as an essential communications tool. The power to connect and access information is a fundamental right which we seek to protect, and the caucus establishes an additional vehicle for doing so.

   Our goals are three-fold. First, we will continue to draw attention to this critical issue. Second, we will continue to highlight attempts by foreign governments to restrict the Internet through resolutions, legislation, and hearings. And third, we will continue to promote methods of evading Internet restrictions, including censorship circumvention technology and tools.

   I emphasize that we will ``continue'' to take these steps because--while today marks the formal creation of the Caucus--this bipartisan group of Senators has been working to advocate for global Internet freedom for more than a year. We have worked together to pass numerous resolutions supporting global Internet and press freedom, and highlighting restrictions in China and Iran. Many of us also authored the Victims of Iranian Censorship, or VOICE Act, which passed as part of the FY2010 Defense Authorization and was the only bill specifically regarding Iran signed into law last year. 

   The VOICE Act authorized funding for additional U.S. broadcasting into Iran and the development of censorship circumvention tools. This effort was spearheaded by Senators McCain, Lieberman, Casey, Graham and myself, while Senator Brownback has worked to secure funding for such technology in consecutive Foreign Operations Appropriations spending bills.

   The 111th Congress, with strong bipartisan support, has done more to promote Internet freedom than any other Congress in history. We have set a standard that places cyber-journalists on equal footing with the broadcast and print press; we have funded the dissemination and use of censorship evasion technology at an unprecedented level; we have made Internet freedom a foreign policy priority and an integral part of the international agenda on human rights; and we will continue to take important policy positions on this pressing issue.

   More remains to be done, and the caucus will fill that role. Internet restrictions, censorship, manipulation, and monitoring continues to rise in China, Iran, and elsewhere around the world. The annual Freedom House Freedom of the Net Report shows a decline of digital freedom every year. Nations around the world are using sophisticated censorship techniques and abusing national security laws to crackdown on access to web-based information, communication, and news.

   Today, we reaffirm our commitment to this cause, and look forward to continuing to work together to promote Internet freedom around the globe.

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