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H.R. 491 (113th): Global Online Freedom Act of 2013

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 4, 2013.

Global Online Freedom Act of 2013 - Makes it U.S. policy to: (1) promote the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media; (2) use all appropriate instruments of U.S. influence to support the free flow of information without interference or discrimination; and (3) deter U.S. businesses from cooperating with Internet-restricting countries in effecting online censorship.

Expresses the sense of Congress that: (1) the President should seek international agreements to protect Internet freedom; and (2) U.S. businesses operating in foreign countries should ensure online access to U.S.-supported websites and government reports, promote the security of Internet users, and limit censorship of protected political and religious speech and information.

Amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to require assessments of freedom of expression with respect to electronic information in each foreign country.

Directs the Secretary of State to annually designate Internet-restricting countries.

Amends the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require each Internet communications service company that operates in an Internet-restricting country to include in its annual report information relating to: (1) human rights due diligence, (2) policies pertaining to the collection and disclosure of personally identifiable information, and (3) restrictions on Internet search engines or content hosting services. Sets forth an exception for companies that include in their annual report a certification of their participation in good standing with the Global Network Initiative or other specified multi-stakeholder initiatives.

Amends the Export Administration Act of 1979, as continued in effect under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, to direct the Secretary of Commerce to: (1) establish a list of goods and technology that would assist a foreign government in acquiring the capability to carry out censorship, surveillance, or any other related activity through means of telecommunications, including the Internet; and (2) prohibit the export of listed goods or technology to a government end-user (including a wholly or partially government-owned telecommunications or Internet service provider) in any Internet-restricting country.