Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Global Plan to Shield Online Speech..whatever

Tech:It looks more like a empty suit to try and cover their asses.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo and a group of human rights and public interest organizations plan to introduce Wednesday a global code of conduct that they say will better protect online free speech and privacy against government intrusion.

The principles are the starting point for a new effort, called the Global Network Initiative, which commits the companies to “avoid or minimize the impact of government restrictions on freedom of expression,” according to a final draft of documents obtained by The New York Times.

Stating that privacy is “a human right and guarantor of human dignity,” the initiative commits the companies to try to resist overly broad demands for restrictions on freedom of speech and overly broad demands that could compromise the privacy of their users.

The initiative was begun after human rights groups and Congress criticized the Internet companies for cooperating with Chinese government censorship and demands for information on dissidents. In addition to laying out the code of conduct, the initiative will provide a non-governmental forum for the companies and human rights groups to jointly resist demands for censorship. It will also establish a system of independent auditors to rate the companies’ conduct.

“This is an important first step in providing standards for free expression and privacy that obligate companies to do more to challenge government restrictions,” said Michael Posner, president of Human Rights First, who agreed to discuss the initiative after The Times obtained the documents. “It sets up an accountability mechanism that will allow each of the companies to be evaluated over time.”

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