Don't be evil - for real

Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft should do more to promote freedom of speech and basic human rights in China, a report from Amnesty International says. The report is part of a campaign against internet repression, and Amnesty says that such global players could and should use their leverage to improve, not condone, the human rights situation in China.

by Amnesty International
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

All three companies are guilty of cooperating with the Chinese authorities on internet censorship to some extent. Microsoft admitted to shutting down a blog at the government's request. Google launched a censored version of its search engine. And Yahoo!, perhaps the biggest offender, helped release the names of two journalists who criticised the government: they are now serving long jail terms.

Amnesty says that the three internet giants "have, through their actions, directly and admittedly contradicted their values and stated politics", and rejects their defence. The companies have argued that they are obliged to comply with local law, and that although the situation is not ideal, their presence in China is a force for good. Censored information, they say, is better than no information.

But the human rights organisation has rubbished such claims: the internet has been present in China for more than 10 years and has flourished without the presence of Google and co. Rather, it argues, internet giants have gone into China to secure a share of its booming market, and their practices so far have facilitated rather than discouraged internet censorship.

Google has come closest to acknowledging that its practices were at odds with its principles, and has made commitments to inform users when a search has been filtered. Amnesty says that companies should be less ready to comply with local directives and exhaust all judicial remedies and appeals before caving in.

Source: Amnesty International

Review by Emilie Filou

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