If you’re planning to use your political power to shut down the Internet, or social networks as a tool to further human rights abuses in your country, you may want to think twice. Rumors have it that President Obama plans on issuing an executive order that will give U.S. officials the power to impose sanctions against foreign nationals who use technology to “carry out grave human rights abuses.” Social media has played a huge part in the organization of protests and revolutionary movements in countries like Syria over the last year. Many expect that Obama will announce the orders during his speech today at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Further to the new executive orders, many expect Obama to make another major announcement:
The president will also announce a set of U.S. development “challenge” grants designed to encourage technology companies to develop new ways to help residents in countries vulnerable to mass killings better detect and quickly alert others to impending dangers. And he will unveil a high-level government panel to serve as a clearinghouse for real-time intelligence, policymaking and other issues related to mass killing. — The Washington Post
It’s a start, but we have to ask: what’s this administration, and more particularly, the U.S. government going to do about the home-grown U.S. companies providing technology to these “foreign nationals” to further their “human rights abuses?”
Most notably, companies such as Cisco and Google have played a large role in helping the Chinese government create the “Great Firewall” for no other reason than profit. While the reponsibility ultimately lies with the countries using the technology, some responsibility needs to be placed on the corporations selling the tools to these countries. Hopefully the new executive order addresses that, but we’re not holding our breath.