Search Engines To Congress: Buzz Off
Given the opportunity to serve as targets for Congressional outrage and grandstanding, Google and Microsoft declined the invitation, as did Cisco, while Yahoo has yet to respond.
The Congressional Human Rights Caucus convenes on February 1st, but it appears unlikely they will get a chance to carve up representatives of four major US technology companies that have acceded to Chinese government Internet censorship requirements.
The San Francisco Chronicle noted Google’s refusal to send a speaker to the caucus. Microsoft and Cisco have done likewise. At press time, Yahoo had not committed to sending someone to DC or not.
The companies probably believe there is nothing to gain from attending. All four will likely be excoriated in absentia anyway, as 2006 is an election year, and Google’s brand recognition means plenty of news services will duly report on Congressional and human rights groups’ railings against the company.
Google would have the double whammy of questions on China and on its role in Gonzales v Google, which seeks to compel Google’s surrender of search information from its massive databases. As the latter is pending litigation, Google would probably decline to answer on that basis, and that wouldn’t stop accusations and criticisms anyway.
Cisco and Yahoo do plan to attend a February 15th House Subcommittee meeting on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations. No word from Google or Microsoft yet, but many of the same groups invited to the Caucus on the 1st were extended invitations by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to the session on the 15th, which he chairs.
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.