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Representatives Introduce Resolution Advocating International Internet Freedom

April 1, 2014. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and others introduced HRes 532, a resolution that "calls on the Government of Turkey to lift restrictions on freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and Internet freedom, including social media".

This resolution states that "the Government of Turkey imposed a countrywide ban on access to Twitter on March 20, 2014, and to YouTube on March 27, 2014, blocking the use of the communications platforms". It adds that Twitter and YouTube have also been blocked in the People's Republic of China.

This resolution argues that "an independent, unfettered media and freedom of expression, including the Internet and social media, are essential elements of democratic, transparent, and open societies". It also "reaffirms the importance of Internet freedom to promote democracy and good governance around the world".

The resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC).

Ed Black, head of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), stated in a release that "Internet censorship clearly violates human rights and free speech, but we believe government blocking of Internet sites like this could also interfere with Turkey's obligations in international trade agreements. We commend Congresswoman Eshoo and her colleagues for taking a strong stand for the citizens of Turkey and open access to the Internet."

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) wrote in a March 27 statement that "Blocking an entire platform for individuals' speech is a massively overbroad response to concerns over potentially illegal content. Issuing such a block expressly to silence political criticism is censorship of the most obvious kind."

Rep. Eshoo is scheduled to speak at a conference on Wednesday, April 9, hosted by the CCIA, at the Newseum, in Washington DC.

(Published in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,639, April 7, 2014.)