Wednesday, February 01, 2006

More on the Google China Censorship Controversy

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post Background to the Google Censorship Issue in China.

The U.S. Congress has started debating the issue of how far American tech firms have been going to cooperate with repressive governments.

Things are sure to heat up as 4 companies, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Cisco and Google, declined to attend a Congressional Human Rights Caucus briefing on how Internet companies do business in China. They did indicate they would appear in 2 weeks time in front of a House of Representatives subcommittee on human rights.
  • Internet Cos. Accused of Bowing to China (AP story via Wired News): "While attendance at Wednesday's briefing was not mandatory, companies could be compelled with subpoenas to attend a Feb. 15 hearing on the issue, said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on global human rights. In an interview, the lawmaker criticized U.S. Internet companies, saying they were helping China arrest and torture activists and screen information from its citizens. "
  • Politicos attack tech firms over China (CNET News): "Rep. Christopher Smith ... showed up late at Wednesday's briefing to issue a reminder that he and his colleagues are working on a draft legislation related to the foreign censorship matter... A draft of the legislation was not ready Wednesday. But Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Smith, said the proposal would likely require American Internet service providers to locate their e-mail servers outside of oppressive countries, establish a code of conduct for companies doing business with such regimes and set up a global Internet freedom office within the State Department to coordinate an international strategy. "
  • Tech under attack - Companies accused of aiding Chinese oppression need to come up with some answers fast (CNN Money): "The issue is a complicated one, if only because, even in the U.S., tech companies cooperate with law enforcement agencies and sell equipment that enables schools, libraries and corporations to restrict what users see. With about 100 million Internet users, second only to the U.S., China is a high-growth market for tech. None of the companies want to leave but, so long as they stay, they have little choice but to play by China's rules. So far, the tech firms have done a poor job of explaining their stance. Google ... executives have said, in essence, that giving China access to most of the Internet is better than giving them none at all. Others have said their policy is to obey local laws -- an approach which would mean they countenance the oppression of women and gays in some countries of the world."
  • Google Statement (Andrew McLaughlin, Senior Policy Counsel): Google is discussing industry guidelines for all countries subjecting Internet content to restrictions. In its statement, it says "In addition to common action by Internet companies, there is an important role for the United States government to address, in the context of its bilateral government-to-government relationships, the larger issues of free expression and open communication. For example, as a U.S.-based company that deals primarily in information, we have urged the United States government to treat censorship as a barrier to trade."
  • Microsoft and Yahoo! Inc. Joint Statement to U.S. Congress Human Rights Caucus on Policies Related to Access to Internet Content: "While we believe that companies have a responsibility to identify appropriate practices in each market in which they do business, we think there is a vital role for government-to-government discussion of the larger issues involved. We urge the United States government to take a leadership role in this regard and have initiated a dialogue with relevant U.S. officials to encourage such government-to-government engagement. We want to assure members of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and the public at large, that we do not consider the Internet situation in China to be one of “business-as usual”. Beyond commercial considerations, we believe that our services have promoted personal expression and enabled far wider access to independent sources of information for hundreds of millions of individuals in China and elsewhere in the world. While we will actively work to encourage governments around the world to embrace policies on Internet content that foster the freer exchange of ideas and promote maximum access to information, we also recognize that, acting alone, our leverage and ability to influence government policies in various countries is severely limited."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:37 pm


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the concept that Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft and all the others just don't get:

Imagine if nobody ever heard Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. If Rosa Park's brave defiance was hushed up. If all the other courageous voices of the civil rights movement had never been heard.

Imagine if all newspapers and media of that era had been censored. "Just complying with local laws", they would mutter.

In your nightmares you can picture what today's America would then be like.

Why then should we accept justifications and excuses from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco and all the others who have sold their soul to arm China's regime with the means to keep their own Martin Luther Kings and Rosa Parks silenced?

And if it becomes "ok" to use American technology to prop up a crumbling dictatorship halfway around the world; will we be able to object – or fight back – when the same technology gets used at home, against you and me...

...once there is nobody left who can stand up and shout: "I have a dream!"

2:48 am  
Blogger technologos said...

view Internet as ultimate medium of intellectual freedom media and my objective is to discuss the essential problem how to define and how to defend intellectual freedom as fundamental human rights paradygm for internet media due to latest Google’s values compromise or controversy in China as well as with US gov. reveals s that even entrepreneurial culture is morally corrupted with dominance of corporate authoritarian governance that plays well with dictatorian draconian rules of China gov.
China’s jailed leader of Tiananman Sq. Wang Dan who’s our test expert on China’s intellectual freedom thinks the internet has two influences. One is a good influence:
Chinese people can have more information and have more contact.
But the second influence is a bad influence because it helps the
government to control people because they can censor the
internet. So it’s very important for the international community
to try to stop government’s using the internet as a tool to
censor the people.

3:58 pm  

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