Blackburn Leads Bill to Fight ‘Digital Authoritarianism’ in China, Russia


Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced a bill Friday that she says would help prevent authoritarian governments in Russia and China from restricting “Internet freedom.”

“Leading censors like China and Russia are not only employing more sophisticated means to control the lives of their citizens online; they are also exporting their censorship and surveillance tactics to illiberal regimes abroad,” Blackburn said in a press release.

She said authoritarian regimes have leveraged “COVID-19 response schemes against their own people” by “restricting the ability of individuals to distribute or publish information related to the virus, imposing criminal penalties for defying speech restrictions, and limiting access to information.”

That’s why she has introduced the Open Technology Fund Authorization Act with Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). The Open Technology Fund (OTF) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to counteracting “repressive censorship and surveillance, enabling Internet users to exercise their fundamental human rights online.”

Under the bill, the OTF would be established as an independent grantee of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, receiving $55 million in appropriations over the next two fiscal years. The organization would be required to “develop, maintain, and deliver technologies to circumvent authoritarian governments’ efforts to restrict Internet freedom.”

Menendez said the OTF provides people around the world with the tools they need to “promote human rights, the free flow of information, and hold their governments accountable and to ensure the Internet remains a free, stable, and secure arena.”

“We’ve seen nations like Communist China actively censor its own citizens – including those who attempted to warn the globe about the threat of the coronavirus. Communist China is violating human rights and oppressing the people of Hong Kong in an effort to silence its critics and pursue global dominance,” said Sen. Scott. “The U.S. cannot sit idly by while regimes across the world deny the basic right of free speech.”

According to the OTF, more than two billion people across the globe use its technologies to circumvent online censorship, including Chinese citizens who use OTF’s technologies to bypass the Chinese Communist Party’s Great Firewall.

“Keeping the internet free from government censorship and oppressive government surveillance is critical to free expression and political freedom around the world,” said Sen. Wyden. “This bill will aid the fight against authoritarian governments online.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].







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3 Thoughts to “Blackburn Leads Bill to Fight ‘Digital Authoritarianism’ in China, Russia”

  1. 83ragtop50

    Representative Blackburn should concentrate her efforts on improving conditions within the USA. Her ongoing vendetta against China and now Russia is like tilting at windmills. She was sent to Washington to concentrate on what would benefit Tennessee and the USA the most. I honestly fail to see where her efforts regarding China and Russia are any more than shilling. How about doing something about runaway spending and government waste?

    1. Horatio Bunce

      Yeah, since her non-vote on the $6 trillion borrowed from the criminal banksters and now Pelosi’s 3 trillion, we are up to over $25k per capita. You got $1200. Where did the other 24 thousand go?

  2. William Delzell

    What about digital authoritarianism here in the U.S. and among our allies? This is typical Marsha Blackburn blaming all our troubles on foreign countries like China. Lest I appear to be unfairly singling out the Republican Party, I have the same harsh words for the Democrat Party that blames everything on the Russians. Let’s cut the xenophobic crap and deal with the REAL threat: the covid and the domestic inequalities that the covid has exposed.