Zoe Lofgren has sponsored a bill that would threaten trade sanctions with China and other countries that limit access to content online.
The bill would allow the United States government to issue trade sanctions under the Trade Act in response to concerns about online restrictions in other countries, and is co-sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats.
While it would presumably have implications for many countries that censor online, the 800 pound gorilla in the room is China, which has come under fire from Google which has threatened to stop doing business in the country after a series of cyberattacks that originated in that country.
Trade disputes between the US and China are nothing new, with critics accusing the latter of keeping its currency artificially low to encourage exports to the US while simultaneously making it more difficult for foreign companies to open up shop on the mainland.
Any sanctions carry the possibility of triggering a "trade war" of retaliatory tariffs and restrictions, however, efforts by the US to use political or economic pressure to push for more freedom of speech abroad have generally failed.
Jackson West figures Lofgren can count on contributions from Google when her next campaign rolls around.