Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Kaufman, on Senate Floor, Applauds Passage of Resolution Condemning Cyber Attack Against Google in China

Senator reaffirms bipartisan support for Internet and press freedom

February 4, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Senator Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of a resolution on Tuesday evening, which condemned recent cyber attacks launched against Google in China and reaffirmed strong support for freedom of expression and press freedom around the world.  
 
The resolution, introduced byKaufman, as well as Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Jim Webb (D-VA), Arlen Specter (D-PA) and John McCain (R-AZ), calls on the Chinese government to conduct a thorough review of these cyber attacks, and to make the results of the investigation transparent. It also voices support for a recent initiative announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to encourage Internet freedom by promoting technology to circumvent electronic censorship and monitoring worldwide.  Finally, it highlights the range of efforts within China to restrict press freedom and freedom of expression, especially on the Internet.  
 
Full remarks:

Mr. President, on Tuesday night, the Senate spoke with one voice, expressing serious concern about ongoing attempts by China and other countries to restrict press and Internet freedom, and condemning the recent cyber attacks against Google in China.     
 
In a bipartisan effort, we unanimously passed S.Res.405, introduced by myself and Senators Brownback, Casey, Kyl, Feingold, Lieberman, McCain, Specter, and Webb. I am proud that this is an issue about which there is widespread agreement and consensus.
 
This resolution reaffirms the centrality of freedom of expression and the press as cornerstones of U.S. foreign policy.  It frames such freedoms as part of U.S. efforts to promote individual rights, and voices serious concern over the ongoing efforts of many countries to restrict free expression, highlighting attempts to censor, restrict, and monitor access to the Internet.
 
The impetus for this resolution was the recent cyber attack on Google’s corporate infrastructure and at least 34 other companies, reportedly originating in China. Google has evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attack was to access Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, journalists, and dissidents.  Even worse, this attack was only one of many recent attempts to exploit security flaws and illegally access computer networks of numerous individuals and institutions.     
 
These cyber attacks are unconscionable violations of national security interests, in addition to violations of intellectual property rights.  With the passage of this resolution, countries from which such attacks originate – or countries which take steps to restrict or monitor the Internet – should consider themselves on notice.  The resolution calls on the Chinese government to conduct a thorough review of the recent attacks, and to make this investigation and its results transparent.   
 
This is not just about cyber-warfare, and it is not just about China.  This resolution highlights a much broader and far-reaching problem of state-sponsored efforts to restrict free and unfettered access to the Internet.  As technology continues to develop, an increasing number of governments have employed repressive tactics to monitor and control the Internet.  In countries such as Iran and China, a growing effort has been made to silence the voices of their citizens and restrict the free flow of information.
 
According to the 2009 “Freedom on the Net” report conducted by Freedom House, the Government of China employs a sophisticated, multi-layered, and wide-ranging apparatus to curtail Internet freedom.  It also employs legal and economic means to coerce Internet service providers, web-hosting firms, and mobile phone companies to delete and censor online content.  Finally, it requires domestic Chinese and foreign companies with subsidiaries in China – such as Google – to adjust their business practices to allow for increased filtering and supervision by the government, which limits the data available on search engines.
 
This resolution urges companies to engage in responsible business practices in the face of such pressure from foreign governments by refusing to aid in the curtailment of free expression, and welcomes the diplomatic initiative announced by Secretary Clinton in her January 21 speech on Internet freedom to support the development of technology aimed at censorship circumvention.
 
Finally, the resolution highlights violations of a free press in China, such as ongoing jamming of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, despite the unimpeded broadcast in the United States of Chinese state-run media outlets.  It pays tribute to the professional and citizen journalists who persevere in their dedication to report in China, despite the extremely high rate of imprisonment among journalists.  
 
The freedoms highlighted in this resolution are not just an inherent good; they are also a practical benefit.  As Secretary Clinton recently said, “…countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from progress…”
 
Mr. President, I am grateful for the widespread support and passage of S.Res.405, and I thank the other co-sponsors for their leadership.  The United States must not sit back as voices in China, Iran, and around the world are silenced.  And it is my hope that this resolution will help to promote an environment of expanded freedoms, especially when it comes to the Internet and the press.  

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