Feeds

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

Slow progress on online rights

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.