There is word of another attempt to revise the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which restricts the dissemination of material intended for foreign audiences within the United States. With the open nature of modern communication mediums, it is argued that Smith-Mundt is a Cold War relic which hinders the ability of the U.S. government to effectively communicate with the modern world and create effective public diplomacy.
Especially when placed on the internet the internet, the reality is that government material intended for foreign audiences is often easily viewed by the American public. This availability makes the legality of producing such material questionable under Smith-Mundt’s restrictions.
Though it’s good to see that some people in Congress are aware of the problems caused by Smith-Mundt, this is not the first time efforts have been made to change it, and it probably won’t be the last. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry. Together, they authored a similar bill in 2010. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that Congress often pays little attention to issues of public diplomacy, despite its importance for national security. Thus, it is unlikely that there will be significant movement on this bill.
To view the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (HR 5736), click here.