Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, July 31, 2006

Internet Giants Pressured to Stop Facilitating Foreign Censorship

Through a new Amnesty International campaign and complementary legislation introduced in Congress, the pressure is on three major internet companies to stop facilitating internet censorship in China.

In a report concerning business deals with China, Amnesty charges that Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft “directly and admittedly contradicted their values and stated policies” by restricting access to information and limiting free expression in China. China has developed one of the most sophisticated internet filtering systems in the world, which, with the help of U.S. companies, blocks access to a large amount of political information.

Amnesty has launched a campaign around the world, urging internet users to post information censored by China, Vietnam, Iran, Syria, and other countries, push for the release of those jailed, and lobby governments and companies to revise existing policies.

“We have to guard against the creation of two Internets: one for expression and one for repression,” Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty’s U.S. office, said.

A bill introduced by Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J. called the Global Online Freedom Act, aims to stop U.S. companies from aiding countries that restrict the internet use of their citizens by requiring companies to disclose their agreements with these countries. It would also prohibit blocking access to U.S. government websites and turning over personal data to foreign governments.

“The impact of embarrassment could have a curative effect on these companies,” Smith said. “We’re trying to reach their consciences. Information is crucial, because human-rights abuses flourish when there’s ignorance or indifference.”

For the full article, click here.


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