Monday, August 4, 2008
[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that a number of the largest American internet companies, human rights organizations and other stakeholders have reached agreement on a voluntary code of conduct that would govern internet companies operating in countries where internet freedom is restricted, like China. The participants are now reviewing the agreement for final approval.
‘I commend Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and other participants for agreeing on the principles of an internet freedom code of conduct,’ Durbin said. ‘This code of conduct would be one important step toward our shared goals of promoting freedom of expression and protecting the privacy of internet users around the world. I look forward to learning more about the details this agreement and whether it will adequately regulate American companies operating in internet-restricting countries.’
On July 21, Senator Durbin, the Chairman of the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee, and Senator Tom Coburn, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, wrote to the CEOs of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft, urging them to finalize and implement the code of conduct as soon as possible. Durbin and Coburn have received responses from the three companies stating that they had reached an agreement in principle on the code of conduct.
Durbin noted that American internet companies have an obligation to resist censorship and protect fundamental human rights even before the code of conduct is finalized.
‘While the code of conduct is being finalized, I urge American internet companies operating in repressive countries to do everything possible to resist censorship and protect user privacy and freedom of expression, especially with the Olympics beginning in China later this week. We must ensure that American companies operating in repressive regimes protect fundamental human rights,’ said Durbin.
Durbin’s and Coburn’s inquiry followed a hearing on global internet freedom that Durbin chaired in the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee on May 20.