Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Global Online Freedom Hearing

The Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and Law heard testimony from Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Cisco, Human Rights Watch, and the Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC) this Tuesday regarding global internet freedom and corporate responsibility. A number of US companies have been criticized for restricting civilian access to information on the Web and for helping China track down “dissidents.”

Cisco denied claims that its products are designed to facilitate censorship and monitoring after an internal document surfaced highlighting China’s attempts to “combat ‘Falun Gong’ evil religion and other hostiles.” Shiyu Zhou, deputy director of GIFC, argued that Cisco provided planning, construction, technical training, etc. to help China improve its online security, and that Cisco can no longer guarantee Congress that it is not aiding China’s attempts to censor online speech. Yahoo has also faced criticism over the past two years after it released information to the Chinese government that led to the arrest of two Chinese journalists.

The subcommittee’s chair, Richard Durbin (D-IL), said the Senate may draw up legislation similar to the House ‘Global Online Freedom Act’ (H.R. 275) which would make it illegal for US companies to release personal information about their users to countries that restrict internet access and use.

Subcommittee Testimony
NY Times – Cisco Denies Censorship Role