Feeds

YaGoogleSoft! adopt voluntary 'code of ethics'

No more grassing up Chinese dissidents?

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The US's Center for Democracy & Technology has announced that after two years of negotiations, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft will in the next few days adopt a voluntary code of ethics "intended to safeguard online freedom of speech around the world".

The big three joined the initiative early last year and promised to work towards "a set of principles guiding company behaviour when faced with laws, regulations and policies that interfere with the achievement of human rights".

Yahoo! has in the past demonstrated it could use a bit of guidance, notably in China. In 2005, the company copped a righteous amount of flak for "assisting" the communist powers that be in tracking down and subsequently jailing "dissident" Shi Tao - a data-coughing incident which caused the company much embarrassment and earned it a rap on the knuckles from the US Congress.

Google, meanwhile, has been criticised for offering Google.cn which fails to index touchy local subjects such as the the Falun Gong sect or Tiananmen Square lest they offend the delicate sensibilities of the lucrative Chinese market's masters.

Back in August, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! wrote to two concerned US senators insiting the move towards the new code of conduct was proceeding apace-ish.

Google declared: "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."

Quite what that means in practice remains to be seen, although we doubt that either empty rhetoric or an unenforceable "code of ethics" will provoke more than a wry smile in Beijing as China opens its fat chequebook in front of companies eager to get their snouts in the trough. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.