Global Internet Freedom Act proposed by Salazar

U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-FL) recently signed on as the lead original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill that seeks to ensure that internet freedom is fundamental to human rights.

The Global Internet Freedom Act, H.R. 8309, which Rep. Salazar introduced on May 8 alongside bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA), would require the U.S. Department of State to include abuses of internet freedom — including shutting down internet services, blocking websites, social media sites, and applications, and engaging in other forms of digital repression — in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“Totalitarian governments in Latin America rely on cutting off Internet access to perpetuate their oppression, just like the Cuban regime did during the July 11 protests and continues to do every time the Cuban people ask for freedom,” Rep. Salazar said on May 17. 

“With global Internet freedom declining for the thirteenth year in a row, the United States must ensure we have accurate information on how countries are restricting their citizens’ access to the Internet,” she added. “The Global Internet Freedom Act gives us that information.”

If enacted, H.R. 8309 also would outline internet freedom abuses, including barriers to internet access, undue restrictions on online expression, and undue violations of privacy online, the summary says.

“In the 21st century, internet freedom is a human right. It’s essential to get news and information about current events, connect with loved ones, ensure transparency and accountability of elected officials, and so much more,” said Rep. Jacobs. “I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Global Internet Freedom Act to stand up for internet freedom and hold those accountable for infringing on this human right.”

The measure has been referred to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee for consideration.