Google stops its censorship in China: Amnesty response

Reacting to media reports today that Google is to stop censoring Internet search results for users of its Google.cn service in China, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Amnesty has consistently called on companies operating in China to stop collaborating with the Chinese authorities’ censorship requirements, and to respect the right to freedom of expression for web users in China.

We’ve repeatedly urged Google and other companies to abide by their own stated business principles and provide unbiased, accurate and free access to information.

“It’s very welcome news that Google appears to be moving back towards these principles. This now lays down the gauntlet to other Internet companies operating in China: to be transparent about what filtering and censorship the government requires them to do. And to stand up for free speech where they can, using legal appeals and other judicial measures.

“It’s also interesting that an apparent attempt to target human rights defenders influenced Google’s decision. Anyone who stands up for human rights faces persecution in China, as we saw at Christmas when Liu Xiaobo was jailed for eleven years after his ‘Charter 08’ document called for reform.

“Internet repression continues unabated in China. Search results are filtered and sites are blocked or closed down. People are still in jail for what they have written online.

“The Chinese authorities must release the stranglehold it has on China’s Internet users and grant them the same rights to freedom of speech and information as web users in any other country. And it must stop the systematic persecution of people who stand up for human rights.”

In June 2006 Amnesty International UK published Undermining Freedom of Expression in China: the role of Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google. Since then the organisation has campaigned for Google and other Internet companies to stop censoring and filtering Internet search results.

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