Apple, HP, Others Rebuked For Not Testifying Before Human Rights Committee

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Last week, Senator Richard Durbin rebuked Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, Twitter, and McAfee for declining to send representatives to the second session of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Human Rights and the Law, which supports free commercial and political use of the Internet in countries with authoritarian governments, including Venezuela, Iran, and China.

Mr. Durbin said: “The bottom line is this: with a few notable exceptions, the technology industry seems unwilling to regulate itself and unwilling even to engage in a dialogue with Congress about the serious human rights challenges the industry faces … Today I am announcing that I will introduce legislation that would require internet companies to take reasonable steps to protect human rights or face civil or criminal liability.”

According to ZDNet, Google, which has come under fire in the past for doing business in China, addressed the committee and confirmed that it no longer censors search engine results in that country. Nicole Wong, Google’s VP and deputy General Counsel, said: “Google is now the second most popular search engine in China, behind Baidu, and we were the first search engine in China to let users know when the results have been removed to comply with Chinese law … While our China revenues are still small in the context of our larger business, the last quarter of 2009 was our most successful quarter ever in China.”

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Comments

Tiger

Yo, Dick, probably because it’s not within their power to dictate policy to foreign countries within their sovereign borders. In case you haven’t noticed, the UN isn’t particularly successful in that arena either. There has to be MUTUAL agreement to make things change and faced with despots who can make or break their contracts with a single word, they’re basically just trying to survive. Notice, Google got IN to China before trying to make any changes.

Can anybody blame them, really, for not wanting to get mixed up in the disaster that is the US legislative process in DC right now? On one side, the Republicans are mixed up in a battle to salvage the party from the extremists attempting to control it, and on the other side you have the Democratic party about to implode by cannibalizing their own members in an effort to force feed the nation a healthcare ‘reform’ bill that it seems fewer and fewer of the public actually agree with (approaching 60% against if polls are to be believed). Neither party is serving the people of the nation. They’re serving themselves.

Your legislation for ‘requiring companies…’ blah blah blah will lack enforcement ability, and smack wholly of a PR stunt designed to bolster your own political ambitions. Your attempts to turn them into a police force for human rights enforcement is just, well, weak.

geoduck

Though I suspect I disagree with Tiger politically (I’m sure we disagree on healthcare reform), on this we’re whistling the same tune.

This is just a political circus for the cameras. Frankly, I don’t remember ever seeing Congressional hearings accomplishing anything of value, ever. Durbin’s proposed legislation would either be a colossal waste of time without teeth, or a step that would cripple the activities of US companies in places like China. Either way It would result in NO gain for human rights. What if Apple had attended? If they said nothing they would look just as bad. If they made strong statements on human rights those statements may very well be used against them and end up hurting their standing in those other countries.

Lose/Lose

daemon

Yo, Dick, probably because it?s not within their power to dictate policy to foreign countries within their sovereign borders.

Yep, but it sure is within Apple’s power not to do business in those countries.

AABerga

Daemon,

no business” like ‘not producing’ in China:

    Macs, MacBooks, iPhones, iPods, iPads…

No wonder that Apple did not show up!

daemon

Yeah…. imagine the horror of producing their products in Mexico instead!

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