Sunday, January 28, 2007

Breakthrough in Censorship on 'Net

The Observer reports today that three giants of the internet have agreed to work on a code of conduct for protecting human rights online. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft will hold talks with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders to:
'seek solutions to the free expression and privacy challenges faced by technology and communications companies doing business internationally'
Google have no accepted that the censorship of its search engine in China was a massive mistake. According to The Observer, Sergey Brin, its billionaire co-founder said that:
'On a business level, that decision to censor ... was a net negative.'
This policy in China has been a huge blow for freedom on the internet. It has led to many arrests, such as the journalist Shi Tao, who is serving a 10 year sentence of forced labour. Tao was arrested after sending an email on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square which was passed on to the Chinese authorities by Yahoo's Chinese partner company. This is just one example from a long list of attacks on free speech not only in China, but across the world.
Since establishing the campaign, over 60,000 people have pledged their support. Whilst the figures are encouraging, they are well short of what is needed to show the governments of the world that freedom of speech is a right and not a privilege.