Feeds

Web giants ink a*se-covering China-dealing deal

Slow progress on online rights

The Power of One Infographic

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have assured US politicians in the run-up to the Olympics that they are close to signing up to a new code of conduct for trading under repressive regimes.

Each has written to a pair of concerned senators to offer vague promises that all that stuff about snitching on dissidents and censoring search results at the behest of Beijing is being worked out in partnership with online rights groups. A voluntary agreement will include independent monitoring, they said.

The 1 August letters, to Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin and Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, promise a full deal will materialise soon. The politicos had urged Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! to agree principles for protecting online freedoms in time for the opening of the Olympic games this Friday.

It was not to be. The companies said in their letters that the principles are a super-high priority (the project began in January 2007), and that they expect to sign by the end of this year. For now the the firms are short on details on the rules and how they will be enforced, but long on rhetoric.

Google's hubristic, misty-eyed, sub-Obama techno-wittering is typical:

Promoting freedom of expression and privacy for users in the United States and around the world is a top priority for Google. As a company that aspires to bring the democratizing power of the internet to individuals in every corner of every county in the world, Google helped initiate the principles process to strengthen the internet's collective hand vis-a-vis restrictive and repressive regimes.

Durbin responded to the letters by saying: "While the code of conduct is being finalized, I urge American Internet companies operating in repressive countries to do everything possible to resist censorship and protect user privacy and freedom of expression."

The negotiations were sparked by high-profile mis-steps by US internet giants in China. Yahoo! has been called to account by Congress after it gave up information that led to a ten year sentence for the journalist Shi Tao. It has since set up a fund to aid the families of jailed dissidents.

Google, meanwhile, has come under fire for launching Google.cn, a localised version of its search engine that doesn't index sites the Chinese government disapproves of, such as information relating to the Falun Gong sect or the Tiananmen Square protests and bloody crackdown of 1989. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
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
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
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.
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.