Feeds

European Parliament calls for censorship code of conduct

Names Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft

Boost IT visibility and business value

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 Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
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
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.