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Progress in Global Net Freedom

Rebecca MacKinnon: Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Vodaphone display some cojones. Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Cisco and others have been getting a lot of heat over the past year for colluding with human rights violations and state censorship in countries like China. Fortunately, three of those four companies have found the wherewithal to do more than just duck and cover.

Colleagues of mine at Berkeley and Harvard have been part of the effort, until now behind closed doors, to create a set of principles — which one hopes will morph into legislation — that give the tech companies a way to behave honorably in their dealings with dictators.

Read this release and you’ll see how much progress they’ve made. This is wonderful news.

6 Comments on “Progress in Global Net Freedom”

  1. #1 Seth Finkelstein
    on Jan 18th, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    “which one hopes will morph into legislation”

    Is there any indication that would happen? And not the opposite?
    That is, usually these sorts of things are to head off legislation, as “self-regulation”.

  2. #2 Dan Gillmor
    on Jan 18th, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Legislation could give them cover — if they really want, deep down, to do the right thing. Their participation in this effort tells me they do. Of course, we’ll find out one way or the other as this moves forward. But I do agree with Rebecca that there’s reason to be hopeful.

  3. #3 Seth Finkelstein
    on Jan 18th, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Quote: “This announcement is coming just a week after the Global Online Freedom Act, which would regulate company behavior through legislation, was reintroduced into the U.S. Congress. ”

    What does that sound like?

    This is not a rhetorical question – why do you think there’s reason to be hopeful? That is, what *reason*, given the way these things tend to go, argues the result will be anything other than avoiding legislation?

    Note, pre-emptively, the answer to this is *NOT* *WISHFUL* *THINKING*. Gee, wouldn’t it be great if we all held hands and sang songs? It sure would! We could have a long discussion about how wonderful it would be. Start up a wiki. Blog about it. But realistically, none of that would be a reason that anything would change.

  4. #4 Dan Gillmor
    on Jan 18th, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    These folks have been working on this for a long time. I don’t know the reason for the timing of this announcement.

    If they are just using this process to stall, we’ll know soon enough.

  5. #5 Seth Finkelstein
    on Jan 18th, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    But it’s early days! 🙁

    Quote: “Members of the group plan to complete the process in 2007.”

    So, we go through the process. The process produces a nice document. More PR. We wait for the next scandal. The document turns out to be toothless. Long explanation as to why it’s not really toothless. Wait for another scandal … Get told it was a good idea, worth trying.

    But that’s good for 1-2 years, maybe even 3-4 years.

    Case study: “TrustE”, if you know that story.

    Why won’t this happen? (not, the nice people involved don’t want it to happen – that’s a given, but not a reason)

  6. #6 Dan Gillmor
    on Jan 19th, 2007 at 8:21 am

    Well, hope you’re wrong.