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U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948

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Citation Edit

U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (Smith-Mundt Act), Ch. 36, 62 Stat. 6 (Jan. 27, 1948), codified at 22 U.S.C. §1431 et seq.

Overview Edit

The Act restricts the State Department from disseminating public diplomacy information domestically and limits its authority to communicate with the American public in general.[1] The domestic dissemination provision originally applied to the now defunct U.S. Information Agency (USIA), which was abolished and its functions transferred to the Secretary of State.[2]

Application to cybersecurity Edit

Critics maintain that the law is a Cold War relic intended only to restrict the USIA, which no longer exists, from propagandizing Americans with public diplomacy and information materials that were intended for a foreign audience. Those critics argue that the restrictions were created before the advent of the Internet, and the provisions create an obsolete barrier that serves only to prevent the State Department from communicating effectively.

Some have also argued that the law has been interpreted to prohibit the military from conducting information operations in cyberspace, as some of those activities could be considered propaganda that could reach U.S. citizens, since the United States does not restrict Internet access according to territorial boundaries.

Yearly appropriations bills for both the State Department and Department of Defense include restrictions on use of funds for “propaganda” activities, although the word “propaganda” is not defined.

References Edit

  1. 22 U.S.C. §1461-1a. This restriction was added by the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1986 and 1987, Pub. L. No. 99-93, 99 Stat. 431, and was not part of the original Act.
  2. Pub. L. No. 105-277 (22 U.S.C. §6532). See also U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues.

Source Edit

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