While we join with Net Coalition in providing legislative language responses to H.R. 3261, we feel it is also important to separately clarify our industry’s view of itself and our role in the process of finding intelligent balanced approaches to the challenges and opportunities resulting from the rapidly changing and often confusing digital and Internet world.
CCIA, our member companies, and many others in our industry are deeply proud that at the core our businesses also serve extremely important public interests.
Our companies, whether in computing [gathering, storing and processing information], communications [sharing and exchanging information and enabling freedom of association] or the Internet [doing all of the above in new, accelerated and far reaching ways] provide means for economic growth, innovation, human empowerment and the development and functioning of healthy and free societies.
That we do so domestically makes up proud, as does our ability to operate globally and help advance our nation’s values and principles around the world. It is no surprise that while the services we provide, through constantly evolving business models, serves the interests of humankind, they also pose threats to repressive regimes and to those merely anxious to dominate that which they don’t understand and seek to control.
The stimulative efforts of our companies in promoting freedom, democracy and more open societies is matched by no other industry in modern times. In the Middle East and around the world tech companies have stuck our necks out to be true to our principles. In contrast, we can think of other industries and companies that have sometimes worked hard to protect themselves and their markets by propping up status-quo repressive regimes.
Our companies have helped the Arab spring evolve and made it more possible for Russians to protest suspect elections. Our companies have sacrificed profits to withdraw from countries that would use our platforms to violate human rights. The most significant example was the costly decision by Google to pull search out of mainland China – the largest Internet market. That voluntary act, taken because of a commitment to principle and concerns about security and free expression was uplifting to many, though mocked by those for whom profit matters above all else.
It is, therefore, especially outrageous to suggest that any of our companies, and especially Google, who are opposed to this immature legislation do so because they greedily want to do business with rogue sites.
We are also proud that 3 of our members, among the largest US Internet companies [Yahoo, Microsoft and Google] have formed the GNI to defend global Internet freedom and condemn filtering and censorship.
I hope we all can stay focused on solving the real problems this legislation purports to address and cease attacks on innovative job creating companies widely held in higher regard than even hard working, dedicated members of Congress.
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