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IT giants fingered over links to China

'Responsible for the plight of China's embattled Internet users'

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A human rights organisation has written to more than a dozen of the world's leading IT companies urging them to take a stand against the Chinese government's repression of the Internet.

Reporters Without Borders - which fights for press freedom - has written to the bosses of Microsoft, Intel, Thomson, Nortel Networks, Hewlett-Packard, Logitech, Oracle, NEC, Samsung, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Yahoo! and Alcatel saying that they are all selling gear that helps the Chinese government spy upon and crack down on people using the Internet.

"All of them [the bosses of the IT giants] should feel responsible for the plight of China's embattled Internet users," said Reporters Without Borders in a statement.

Singling out individual companies, Reporters Without Borders claimed that "Cisco Systems supplies special online spying systems while Intel just sells its standard products".

It went on: "Yahoo! agreed to change its portal and search-engine to facilitate censorship in exchange for access to the Chinese market, while South Korea's Samsung is simply selling its goods to a neighbouring country."

No one from Cisco, Intel or Yahoo! was available for comment at the time of writing.

Of course, this isn't the first time that the IT industry has been fingered for its involvement in China.

A year ago, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems, among others, were accused of aiding and abetting human rights violations in China by Amnesty International.

The human rights watchdog argued that China depends on the technological expertise and investment of foreign companies that provide technology which is used to restrict fundamental freedoms.

Amnesty listed 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". ®

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Amnesty slams tech giants for 'aiding' Chinese human rights abuse

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