China, Congress and the tech industry

A congressional committee will question representatives from major Internet companies Wednesday about their business practices in China. Several of the companies skipped an earlier hearing, citing scheduling conflicts.

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The Net companies have come under harsh criticism of late for the way they do business with China. Google was roundly criticized for offering up a Chinese version of its search engine that censors words and images objectionable to the Chinese government. And Yahoo has been accused of helping Chinese authorities track down dissident journalists.

Yahoo put out a statement ahead of the hearing saying that the company was "deeply concerned by efforts of governments to restrict and control open access to information and communication," and that industry and government should work together to develop policies for doing business in restrictive countries.

Blog community response:

"What about a little non-collaboration? Couldn't industry decline to actively participate in acts of repression? Couldn't Yahoo, for example, move its servers outside of China so it wouldn't be obligated to cough up the names of dissidents or censor search results?"
--Good Morning Silicon Valley

"I would like to see the search engines be even more transparent about their censorship. They should publicize the full list of URLs and keywords that they are required to block (minus porn perhaps), plus the specific laws, regulations, and orders that have led to each item being put on the list."
--RConversation

"But what's the point of these grand statements of principle? Google has taken particularly harsh criticism for agreeing to censor its results because of its motto 'Don't Be Evil' and because it was the sole company among the top three search engines to refuse to pass its search logs to the U.S. government."
--Fast Company blog

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