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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Internet firms agree to code of conduct in China

Just days before the Olympic torch will reach Beijing, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft say they are close to an agreement on a code of conduct for doing business in China and other countries that censor the Internet. Senator Dick Durbin on Monday released separate letters from the companies, stating they have "reached agreement on the core components of the principles" of the code.

Those components, the letters say, include principles for promoting freedom of expression and privacy, implementation guidelines, and an accountability framework. The specifics of the code are now being reviewed by the individual organizations involved. Google said the companies are working toward "a set of clear and rigorous principles, such that restrictive governments would be unable to ignore or reject these best practices on freedom of expression and the protection of individual privacy."

The impending Olympic games have increased questions about Internet censorship in China, especially after Chinese officials tried to block journalists there for the games from accessing certain sites, even after the Chinese government assured reporters they would have full freedom to search the Internet, unlike its citizens.

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