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Human Rights Online: Tech Companies Adopt Conduct Code

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are set to adopt voluntary and uniform guidelines to govern their international business practices, this week. These Internet companies have struggled to find acceptable means to deal with countries like China, which silence the voice of dissidents on the Internet, and block certain websites. China has used emails sent by dissidents as evidence to put them behind bars.

Part of the code of conduct will require the companies to carefully scrutinize a government's demand for information about users, or government requests for nationwide censorship. The rules, generated by teams from the tech companies, public interest groups, academics, and socially conscious investment funds, weren't just created in the name of human rights — they're also designed to counter bad publicity surrounding tech company compliance with repressive governments.

Should international companies stay true to their hometown freedoms, or should they expect to play by the rules of all the countries where they do business?


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