Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holding Companies Accountable

The New York Sun reports that the NYC Comptroller plans to take action against companies that abet China's censorship of the Internet:

The city's comptroller, William Thompson Jr., is using the muscle of the city's pension fund to take on the Internet powerhouses Google and Yahoo.

Mr. Thompson, a likely 2009 mayoral candidate, has filed shareholder resolutions calling on the two search engines to create practices for dealing with censorship issues in communist countries like China, North Korea, and Cuba, as well as other "authoritarian" regimes including Iran, Syria, Burma, and Egypt.

The resolutions, which were filed last week, call on Google and Yahoo to resist demands for censorship and to ensure that they do not engage in any "proactive censorship."

"Technology companies in the United States have failed to develop adequate standards by which they can conduct business with authoritarian governments while protecting human rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of expression," Mr. Thompson said in a statement.

The article goes on to give a nice overview of the issues involved, and is definitely worth reading. While there's certainly some grandstanding here, I think Mr. Thompson is doing the right thing. There is no reason why NYC's pension fund should subsidize Google and Yahoo while they kowtow to Chinese censors.


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