Congressman: Yahoo, Google, Cisco Systems, Microsoft are "agents of repression"
In a House subcommittee hearing for global human rights, Rep. Tom Lantos accuses four major U.S. technology companies of "complete compliance" with Chinese repression of civil rights and political dissent. Their actions are, he says, "a disgrace."
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8 minutes 8 seconds
Rep. Christopher Smith chairs the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. At a hearing in Washington, he reads a pointed indictment of Cisco Systems, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Smith says the tech companies aid repression by the Chinese government.
12 minutes 12 seconds
Feb 15, 2006 9:44:00 AM
Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft under fire in Washington 10:40AM
America's technology giants have 'enthusiastically volunteered for China's censorship brigade'. The heated remarks came during a hearing of the US House of Representatives international relations sub-committee in which some of the US's biggest Internet companies came under fire over their dealings in China.
The major search engines Yahoo!, Google and MSN along with Internet hardware company Cisco have been asked by the Committee to explain their business practices in the People's Republic. The Committee fears that the companies have made the pursuit of profit and market share in the rapidly expanding Chinese market a priority over their commitment to human rights.
The most stinging remarks came from California congressman Tom Lantos who told the companies 'Your abhorrent activities in China are a disgrace. I simply do not understand how your corporate leadership sleeps at night'.
Campaigners have watched with dismay as companies have put aside their principles in order to do business with the Chinese authorities. Last month Google caused outrage when it emerged that the company would be censoring the results of its Google.cn subsidiary in order to operate within Chinese borders. Last year, the pressure group Reporters Without Borders revealed that Yahoo! had handed over the email records of a human rights campaigner to Chinese prosecutors. The man subsequently received a sentence of ten years in jail.
The companies say that if they operate in China, they have to comply with local law as they do anywhere else in the world. Michael Callahan, a Yahoo! senior vice president told the Committee, 'I don't think it would be appropriate for me to sit in my office in California and order a Chinese citizen in our Beijing operation not to follow a lawful command. We are very distressed about the consequences of complying with Chinese law'.
Under pressure Google said that it may consider pulling out of China if the country's human rights record did not improve.
Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, asked the companies whether they were 'ashamed' of their activities China and dismissed their pleas that they were following local law. 'IBM complied with legal orders when they cooperated with Nazi Germany,' he told the four. 'Those were legal orders under the Nazi German system. Do you think that IBM during that period had something to be ashamed of?'
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