Online freedom of speech around the world
Last modified on Wednesday, 29 October 2008 04:35
Technology titans including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have signed an Internet industry code of ethics intended to safeguard online freedom of speech around the world.
The rules of conduct have been drawn up by the U.S.-based Center for Democracy & Technology, which has taken two years to get the industry names to sign up. The big idea is to provide a voluntary framework to help protect people who express opinions online in countries such as China.
One of the big drivers for the code of practice was Yahoo, who wanted to promote a code of behavior for global technology and communication companies operating in "challenging markets." Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang said internet companies were getting into more grey areas in terms of freedom of expression versus censorship, legal versus illegal and border versus non-border.”
Yahoo got into deep doo doo when it helped Chinese police identify cyber dissidents whose supposed crime was expressing their views online.
Google has also been slammed for complying with the Chinese government's demands to filter Internet searches in that country to eliminate query results regarding topics such as democracy or Tiananmen Square.