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Chinese Censorship: Internet Companies Respond January 20, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Uncategorized.
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Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Vodafone have announced an agreement with human rights groups, internet freedom activists and others to establish a set of principles covering how they deal with censorship and other restrictions that could harm human rights in China and elsewhere.

Source: ft.com

This is good news, but it might not be good enough news. A coalition between companies and nongovernmental organizations provides both monitoring and potential financial clout against censorious governments, but there is no immediate leverage. The major advantage of the coalition is that the companies will be able to link censorship issues to broader issues. It might be more difficult for the Chinese and others to negotiate with Google without at least mentioning censorship.

Clearly, the companies are responding to public protest over the exposure of their policies in China, but the search engine giants are also trying to forestall any more restrictive legislation. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) reintroduced the Global Online Freedom Act, which would prohibit locating search engine companies in censoring countries and prevent the companies from altering results on the request of governments, as Google appears to have done with its recently established Chinese language engine that expunges results on “Tibet” and other search terms. Yahoo handed over e-mails that helped to imprison Chinese dissidents.

Tags: Rights | restrictions | respond | principles | internet | harm | Groups | freedom | Establish | critics | covering | companies | Censorship | announced | agreement | activists | Yahoo | vodafone | Politics | Microsoft | China

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