China: Google hints at China U-turn

Amnesty International has responded to a statement from Google co-founder Sergey Brin that the company had compromised its principles by launching a censored search engine in China.

An Amnesty International spokesperson said:

“It would be a very welcome first step if Google did change its policy towards censorship in China.

“Companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have massively compromised their principles while trying to carve out a slice of the lucrative Chinese market.

“These companies have made vast fortunes from the free access to information that the internet can provide – now they’re taking it away at the behest of the Chinese authorities.

“Companies have a responsibility not to be complicit in human rights abuses. And to abuse the rights of their own customers can ultimately only harm their reputations and their business.”

Amnesty International recently launched a new campaign, , to challenge repression on the internet.

The new campaign highlights the rise of internet censorship and the role of multinational companies colluding with governments in restricting people’s right to freedom of expression and information on the net. It also highlights the cases of individual prisoners of conscience, imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their beliefs online.

The campaign launched on May 28 with a new website enabling people to join the campaign by signing a simple pledge opposing internet repression. Already twenty thousand online pledges have been collected, calling on all governments and companies to respect internet freedom. These will be presented to a UN meeting on the future of the internet in November 2006. The site also enables web users to email governments and companies, calling for an end to internet repression.

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