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U.S. President Barack Obama   (Source: Reuters)
The order targets nations that use certain technologies like cell phone tracking and Internet monitoring/bans to impose an unnecessary level of authority on its citzens

U.S. President Barack Obama will allow sanctions to be imposed on foreign companies and individuals that use technology to aid autocratic nations in oppressing their citizens.

Obama will issue this executive order today at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The order targets nations that use certain technologies like cell phone tracking and internet monitoring/bans to impose an unnecessary level of authority on its citizens.

The executive order is specifically meant for Syria and Iran, where cells phones and the internet had been used by democracy advocates to organize the Middle East. However, security services in Syria and Iran have started to use such technology to track citizens and block access to the Internet.

The sanctions imposed on Syria and Iran will include financial restrictions and a visa ban on one Syrian individual, two Syrian "entities," and four Iranian entities. The word "entities" refers to either government agencies or private companies in Syria and Iran.

The Middle East isn't the only area where cell phone/internet tracking and bans are a problem. Earlier this month, the Chinese sector of hacker group Anonymous defaced and stole information from nearly 500 government and corporate websites in China. Anonymous China did this to rebel against its government for the amount of censorship it imposes on its citizens when it comes to social networking sites, news sites and file-sharing sites.

In the U.S., there are issues with law enforcement using cell phone tracking regularly on citizens, which is sometimes warrantless, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In addition, employers and educational institutions are closely monitoring social networks of employees and students in order to learn more about applicants and current workers/students.
 
For instance, the Maryland Department of Corrections had asked applicants and current employees to provide their Facebook email and passwords for complete access. Corrections officer Robert Collins complained to the ACLU, who stopped the practice. However, the Maryland Department of Corrections simply started asking applicants and employees to log onto their Facebook accounts themselves right in front of the employer for access.

A proposed bill back in March aimed to stop employees from asking for such information and access, but it was rejected in the U.S. House of Representatives. Another bill, which applies to Maryland only and aims to stop employers from asking for social media passwords, passed unanimously in the Senate and by a large number in the House of Delegates earlier this month.

Source: Reuters





"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)







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