Major Internet Companies Agree On China Code Of Conduct

    August 5, 2008

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have announced they are close to completing a voluntary code of conduct for doing business in China and other countries that censor the Internet.

 Details of the code of conduct have not yet been made public but Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il) was supportive of the companies’ progress. "We must ensure that American companies operating in repressive regimes protect fundamental human rights," Durbin said in a statement.

Chinese Internet users cannot access Web sites that contain information that is critical of the country’s Communist government and have their Internet activity heavily monitored.

Durbin said Google, Yahoo and Microsoft should keep working on the code of conduct and should not wait to complete it. "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, especially with the Olympics beginning in China later this week," he said.

In separate but similar letters to Durbin, the companies agreed on basic principles "protecting and advancing the enjoyment of freedom of expression and privacy globally."

Amy O’Meara, director of business and human rights for Amnesty International USA, also urged the companies to preserve Internet freedoms in the code of conduct.

"Censorship is still rampant, dissidents are still being arrested and held in detention and none of the companies have announced changes in their operating procedures or policies which would change either of those facts," she told the Los Angles Times.