Feeds

European Parliament calls for censorship code of conduct

Names Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft

Application security programs and practises

The European Parliament has called on the European Commission to establish a code of conduct governing the online censorship of dissidents. It wants companies such as Google and Telecom Italia to pledge not to help governments censor their citizens.

The Parliament has adopted a text denouncing the governments of China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia for persecuting political opponents for views expressed online. It also name-checks Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft as companies that help those governments censor their citizens.

"[The] Chinese government has successfully persuaded companies such as Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft to facilitate the censorship of their services in the Chinese internet market," says the text.

Google said it believes that even the censored search engine provides some benefits. "Google respects the fact that people and organisations, including Amnesty, oppose our decision to launch a search service in China," said a Google spokeswoman in a statement.

"Google believes that Google.cn will provide significant benefits to Chinese internet users and that our engagement in China meaningfully expands access to information there.

"Google.cn already discloses to users when information has been removed from our search results in response to local laws and regulations. We believe this provides some additional transparency and is a step in the right direction."

The Parliament cannot directly control companies' behaviour. "There is not pressure we can bring to bear directly on companies, but we have passed this on to the commission and the Council of Ministers and want them to draw up a code of conduct," said a European Parliament spokesman.

The text is not a legally enforceable document, it is simply a register of the Parliament's support for freedom of expression on the internet, the spokesman said.

The document says the Parliament "strongly condemns restrictions on internet content, whether they apply to the dissemination or to the receipt of information, that are imposed by governments and are not in strict conformity with the guarantee of freedom of expression".

The Parliament said it "strongly condemns the harassment and imprisonment of journalists and others who are expressing their opinions on the internet [and] calls, in this respect, on the council and the commission to take all necessary measures vis-à-vis the authorities of the concerned countries for the immediate release of all detained internet users".

The Parliament also wants the commission to consider limiting aid to countries whose internet policies do not protect freedom of expression. The document said the Parliament "calls on the council and the commission when considering its assistance programmes to third countries to take into account the need for unrestricted internet access by their citizens".

The Parliament spokesman said the document could be considered alongside proposals that emerged at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis at the end of last year. He also said it could be adopted not just by the commission, but by the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union.

See: European Parliament resolution on freedom of expression on the internet

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.