Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 12:49am
ONLINE FIRMS FACING QUESTIONS ABOUT CENSORING INTERNET SEARCHES IN CHINA
[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Tom Zeller Jr]
Companies like Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Cisco Systems are being pressed in Washington for fuller answers about their business practices in China and the implications for human rights. That pressure will escalate today when the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations questions officials of the four technology companies, along with other witnesses critical of their activities. The subcommittee's chairman, Representative Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) plans to introduce legislation by week's end that would restrict an Internet company's ability to censor or filter basic political or religious terms -- even if that puts the company at odds with local laws in the countries where it now operates. Although some advocates have argued that the companies may actually be violating existing trade laws, most experts concede that does not appear to be the case.
* Internet Firms to Defend Policies
* Use of U.S. technology to block Net's info flow to be scrutinized
* Tech firms need united front on China repression
CHINESE GOVERNMENT DEFENDS ITS RESTRICTIONS ON INTERNET USE
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, AUTHOR: Jason Dean firstname.lastname@example.org]
China's government offered a rare defense of its regulation of the Internet, arguing that its controls over online information are limited and consistent with practices in other countries. At a news conference yesterday, Liu Zhengrong, an official with an arm of the Chinese cabinet, acknowledged that Beijing blocks access to some kinds of content. But he asserted that China's approach hews to that used in the U.S. and other Western countries to keep "harmful" and "illegal" information off the Internet. "Our practices are completely consistent with international practices," said Mr. Liu, deputy director of the State Council Information Office's Internet Affairs Bureau. The rare comments appeared aimed at rebutting mounting criticism in the U.S. and elsewhere of China's restrictions on the Internet and of the willingness of foreign Internet companies to comply with those limits. Companies such as Yahoo Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have agreed to limit Internet-search results or other content to exclude information Beijing finds politically unacceptable, as the companies seek access to China's huge and growing pool of Internet users -- 111 million at last count, second only to the U.S. A House subcommittee on human rights was scheduled to hold hearings today on the activities of those companies in China.
* Beijing Censors Taken to Task in Party Circles
[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Joseph Kahn]
A dozen former Communist Party officials and senior scholars, including a onetime secretary to Mao, a party propaganda chief and the retired bosses of some of the country's most powerful newspapers, have denounced the recent closing of a prominent news journal, helping to fuel a growing backlash against censorship.
STATE DEPARTMENT TO PUSH FOR ONLINE FREE SPEECH
[SOURCE: Reuters, AUTHOR: Andy Sullivan]
The State Department said on Tuesday it had set up a task force to help U.S. technology companies protect freedom of expression in countries like China that censor online content. State Department officials said they will push to encourage foreign countries to allow greater freedom of expression online and help U.S. businesses figure out what to do when called on to enforce repressive laws in countries where they operate.
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