Feeds

Amnesty slams tech giants for ‘aiding’ Chinese human rights abuse

Weapons supply

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The great and the good of the IT industry - including Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Websense - stand accused of aiding and abetting human rights violations in China.

The charge comes in a critique by human rights watchdog Amnesty International entitled State Control Of The Internet In China, published this week.

Internet use in China is growing exponentially, with the number of domestic Internet users is doubling every six months, but has only been allowed to flourish alongside heavy handed state controls.

Amnesty chronicles how the Chinese authorities have "introduced scores of regulations, closed Internet cafes, blocked e-mails, search engines, foreign news and politically-sensitive websites, and recently introduced a filtering system for web searches on a list of prohibited key words and terms".

Those violating the laws and regulations which aim to restrict free expression of opinion and circulation of information through the Internet may face imprisonment. Under recent regulations some could even be sentenced to death where the information they circulate is judged to disclose state secrets.

Amnesty International has compiled records of 33 prisoners of conscience who have been detained for using the Internet to circulate or download information.

China depends on the technological expertise and investment of foreign companies who, Amnesty International argues, are providing technology which is used to restrict fundamental freedoms.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls on "every individual and every organ of society" to play its part in securing human rights for all. Amnesty International believes that multinational companies are failing to act as good corporate citizens.

In particular, Amnesty highlights China's Golden Shield project. This project, launched in October 2000, aims to use advanced information and communication technology to strengthen police control in China and a massive surveillance database system will reportedly provide access to records of every citizen

So are IT companies acting morally in supplying technology to China? The issue is far from clear cut. Even Amnesty notes IT is a "cornerstone for economic growth in a country with over a fifth of the world's population". So technology supplied to China is boosting the living standards of people in the country and keeping hi-tech workers elsewhere with orders to fulfil, a not insignificant consideration in such economically challenged times.

And how much control do vendors have over the use of their technology? Much depends on whether the Chinese are adapting general purpose technologies for questionable ends or whether vendors are actively courting repressive regimes by developing Big Brother features in their products.

This is where the moral questions begin. ®

External Link

here

Related Stories

Nortel helping China to overhaul state surveillance architecture
Of TCPA, Palladium and Werner von Braun

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.