Google Responds To Human Rights Caucus

    February 1, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Though a representative from Google will not attend the Human Rights Caucus in Washington, DC, the company’s senior policy counsel did submit a statement to the Members’ Briefing.

Google’s Andrew McLaughlin cited prior commitments and a willingness to appear on a different date to brief the Human Rights Caucus chaired by House Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Oh) in his open response to an invitation to attend. Google, Cisco, and Microsoft all declined those invitations, while Yahoo had not made an answer public as of press time.

McLaughlin noted reasons Google published previously about, the company’s local service established in China. Speed of service to for users in China proved painfully slow, if it was available at all. The local domain removes that roadblock.

On the topic of services, McLaughlin reiterated that Google would disclose when it is censoring search results in China:

In order to operate as a website in China, Google is required to remove some sensitive information from our search results. These restrictions are imposed by Chinese laws, regulations, and policies. However, when we remove content from, we disclose that fact to our users.

Google made a handful of services available on web and image search, Google News, and a local business info and map service. Products that can retain personally identifiable information, like Gmail and Blogger, won’t be introduced, at least not immediately:

[Gmail and Blogger] will be introduced only when we are comfortable that we can provide them in a way that protects users’ expectations about that information. We are conscious of the reality that data is subject to the laws and regulations of the country in which it is stored, and we make decisions about where to locate our services with that reality squarely in mind.

McLaughlin further noted topics like expanding dialogues about China in and out of the country; common guidelines for tech firms to follow in countries that restrict the flow of information; and asking the US Government to consider treating censorship as a barrier to trade.

But if industry guidelines on dealing with countries like China that censor information were enacted, would companies pull up stakes and depart the country? Or would they treat such guidelines as not being ex post facto in nature and thus not applicable to their existing businesses?

How about it, Messrs. Schmidt, Ballmer, and Semel? Would guidelines push your firms out of China, or just keep them from going into countries like Myanmar in the future?

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.