Senator Questions Apple Human Rights Practices in China

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin wants information from Apple and several other companies detailing their human rights practices in China. Mr. Durbin requested the information following Google's announcement that it planned to stop cooperating with China's Internet censorship policies, according to Reuters.

Mr. Durbin plans to hold a hearing in March to question Apple, Google and other companies on their business activities in China and other countries that limit Internet access. The hearing will be held in Mr. Durbin's capacity as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law.

"Google sets a strong example in standing up to the Chinese government's continued failure to respect the fundamental human rights of free expression and privacy," Mr. Durbin said. "I look forward to learning more about whether other American companies are willing to follow Google's lead."

Mr. Durbin sent letters requesting information to ACER, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Cisco, Dell, eBay, Facebook, Fortinet, Hewlett-Packard, IAC, IBM, Juniper, Lenovo, McAfee, Motorola, News Corp, Nokia, Nokia Siemens, Oracle, Research In Motion, SAP, Siemens, Skype, Sprint Nextel, Toshiba, Twitter, Verizon, Vodafone and Websense.

Google announced in early January that it was the focus of a cyber attack that originated from China. "We have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists," the company said.

The Internet search company stopped short of accusing China's government of orchestrating the attacks, but clearly implied that's what it thought. The discovery also led Google to announce that it may shut down all of its China-based operations.

Mr. Durbin hasn't said specifically what he hopes to accomplish with the scheduled hearing, but did push for companies to participate in the voluntary Global Network Initiative, which is a Microsoft and Google-backed organization that regulates the actions of tech companies in Internet-restricted countries.

The Congressional-Executive Commission of China plans to hold its own hearing on February 10 to evaluate the impact China's Internet restrictions have on people and commercial laws in the country.

Apple has not commented on Mr. Durbin's request.