China Mandates PC Companies Install Software That Censors

By Tony Cruz, Amnesty International USA’s Business & Economic Relations Group

Starting July 1, 2009, the Chinese government is mandating all PC makers such as Hewlett Packard and Dell install software that filters Internet content.  The government says it is to help give parents control over inappropriate material, such as pornography, but Business Week reports that the software blocks political and religious websites. And after the government of China’s recent internet crackdown on the 20th anniversary of Tienanmen Square earlier this month, and the widely known controversial self-censorship of companies such as Yahoo and Google, it is clear that the Chinese government continues to use technology to suppress freedom of expression.

For the last three years, I’ve represented Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) at Yahoo! and Google’s shareholder meetings addressing their decisions to self-censor. I’ve asked executives to support freedom of expression on the Internet through such legislation as the Global Online Freedom Act (H.R. 275) which could help IT companies resist information requests by the Chinese government.

Imagine this scenario: if Yahoo! and Google backed this legislation three years ago, the choice facing HP and Dell today would be an easy one — respect human rights or go to jail. But they have not taken concrete steps to rectify their decision to self-censor, a decision that even Google co-founder Sergei Brin calls a “mistake”. In fact, AIUSA recently pulled out of the multi-stakeholder initiative we joined in 2007, with the goal of establishing voluntary principles to promote and respect human rights on the Internet, because we saw no tangible results.

This week we’re able to see in real-time how critical the Internet is for Iranians as a forum for protest and communication. In China, the Internet is equally vital in voicing dissent and discussing justice and rights. If PC companies cave into the Chinese government’s demands to install software that filters internet content, then it could be the next step towards stifling this budding online democratic movement towards accountability, transparency, citizens’ right to participate.

So what’s next for PC companies? Will they be pioneers in socially responsible business practices or will they bend to the Great Firewall of China?

Join us in defending online freedom in China by taking this simple action.

With contributions from Anna Phelan (BERG) and Lillian Tan, Corporate Action Network Intern

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

20 thoughts on “China Mandates PC Companies Install Software That Censors

  1. Well, that would be damaging to freedom of speech or religion. I suppose that next people will say that censorship is okay and justifies human rights! And they will spew all kinds of hatred and garbage against AIUSA. How many more insults can AIUSA take until they submit to the will of those who claim they support human rights but do not? Saying that censorship, war, torture and the death penalty justify human rights and are the ultimate solutions to the world's problems is like the world is ruled by Satan. If more insults are spewed against AIUSA and this is the way it's gonna be, then I can't visit your blogs anymore and be subject to more insults again! Please help me! :cry:

  2. Well, that would be damaging to freedom of speech or religion. I suppose that next people will say that censorship is okay and justifies human rights! And they will spew all kinds of hatred and garbage against AIUSA. How many more insults can AIUSA take until they submit to the will of those who claim they support human rights but do not? Saying that censorship, war, torture and the death penalty justify human rights and are the ultimate solutions to the world’s problems is like the world is ruled by Satan. If more insults are spewed against AIUSA and this is the way it’s gonna be, then I can’t visit your blogs anymore and be subject to more insults again! Please help me! :cry:

  3. Dear Debbie, this isn't the time to give up!! And let me tell you why —

    Events in Iran have just proved YOU right & me ABSOLUTELY WRONG when you said electons under the Ayatollahs couldn't be fair & i insisted to the contrary. It took just ONE week for me to see what you showed me.This weekend i said to myself, how happy i'll be to tell Debbie her view has been utterly VINDICATED,while my view is in TATTERS — TORN TO SHREDS by the Iranian people themselves & their tidal movement !!

    i know just how cruel & cutting the Pilates & the pharisees' suporters can be — but when they uncaringly draw the blood from your own weeping heart which you offer for all their victims, they don't know they have enabled the only Offering, your own, which can renew the world.

    When you speak, dear Debbie, you feel no one listens. But this is not so. Your words remain among the people.

  4. Dear Debbie, this isn’t the time to give up!! And let me tell you why –

    Events in Iran have just proved YOU right & me ABSOLUTELY WRONG when you said electons under the Ayatollahs couldn’t be fair & i insisted to the contrary. It took just ONE week for me to see what you showed me.This weekend i said to myself, how happy i’ll be to tell Debbie her view has been utterly VINDICATED,while my view is in TATTERS — TORN TO SHREDS by the Iranian people themselves & their tidal movement !!

    i know just how cruel & cutting the Pilates & the pharisees’ suporters can be — but when they uncaringly draw the blood from your own weeping heart which you offer for all their victims, they don’t know they have enabled the only Offering, your own, which can renew the world.

    When you speak, dear Debbie, you feel no one listens. But this is not so. Your words remain among the people.

  5. Thanks, John. You have made me so much better and comfort. And it brings me hope to go on as well. :)

  6. Pingback: China: the real surveillance state « The Lift – Legal Issues in the Fight against Terrorism

  7. Thanks, John. You have made me so much better and comfort. And it brings me hope to go on as well. :)

  8. You don't know it, dear Debbie, but i always watch for your words, & listen carefully to all that you say.

    You're making a wide difference, according to me , & one reason for this, is — you're always impassioned, Debbie, but you never lower yourself to the cutting, bruising word levels of the "executionists" ( can i call them this, because of their championing of "executions" ? ).

    This is a good thing you do, controlling your words, & your word control is the beginning of all self control, of your own power. You remind the executionists, the crucifiers, of Christ & his way, & you do remind them that putting people down verbally like they always do, when they talk cruelly, is not the Way — but they DO believe in putting people down, don't they ? Putting them down permanently under the ground.

    But you believe in the Resurrection & the life, even for humans fallen into violence patterns, & you speak your dream to us, Debbie.

    i'm starting to study the issues of executions & the treatment of humans who fall into violence patterns, Debbie. Reading, thinking…

    For it'll be a long road here, & we have to know where we're coming from before we can be sure where we're going to.

    i'll support you all the way in the battle, dear Debbie.

    The Struggle is Together.

  9. You don’t know it, dear Debbie, but i always watch for your words, & listen carefully to all that you say.

    You’re making a wide difference, according to me , & one reason for this, is — you’re always impassioned, Debbie, but you never lower yourself to the cutting, bruising word levels of the “executionists” ( can i call them this, because of their championing of “executions” ? ).

    This is a good thing you do, controlling your words, & your word control is the beginning of all self control, of your own power. You remind the executionists, the crucifiers, of Christ & his way, & you do remind them that putting people down verbally like they always do, when they talk cruelly, is not the Way — but they DO believe in putting people down, don’t they ? Putting them down permanently under the ground.

    But you believe in the Resurrection & the life, even for humans fallen into violence patterns, & you speak your dream to us, Debbie.

    i’m starting to study the issues of executions & the treatment of humans who fall into violence patterns, Debbie. Reading, thinking…

    For it’ll be a long road here, & we have to know where we’re coming from before we can be sure where we’re going to.

    i’ll support you all the way in the battle, dear Debbie.

    The Struggle is Together.

  10. Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.

  11. Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.

  12. Pingback: Google, Actions speak louder than words | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog