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Bipartisan Bill Allows Government Contracts With Internet Providers to Support Conflict Zones

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Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have introduced a new bill that would allow the federal government to provide commercial internet connectivity in conflict zones around the world.

Under the Safely Accessing Telecommunications Act, the Department of Defense and the State Department can contract with U.S. satellite cellular and internet providers in support of U.S. allies, according to a Tuesday post on Cornyn’s website.

The commercial services, which include end-point infrastructure such as satellite phones, could be used by affected governments to wage an information war and by civilians, first responders and essential services to remain connected with each other.

“Winning the war of public perception is a crucial part of armed conflict today, and as we’ve seen in Ukraine, the internet is the best way to gain support for your country’s cause globally,” explained Cornyn.

The legislation would will also “enable the U.S. government to collaborate with the private sector to help people living in conflict zones remain connected and protected against cyber-aggression,” explained Klobuchar.

Despite the authorization, the act would prohibit the agencies from forcing service providers to deliver connectivity against their will and from contracting with adversary-related entities on the Commerce Entity List.