There will be congressional hearings on how U.S. technology companies are helping to censor China's internet. The Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray reports this morning:
One of the most aggressive human rights activists in Congress has found a new cause: stamping out Internet censorship in China.
Representative Christopher H. Smith, a New Jersey Republican and chairman of a House subcommittee on human rights, plans to hold hearings next month on reports that US Internet companies, including Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., aid efforts by the government of China to suppress free speech. The issue has simmered for years as American companies have raced to enter the Chinese Internet market, already the second-largest on earth and rapidly growing.
Read the whole article here. On the Democratic side, Rep Tim Ryan of Ohio is also beating the drum:
If Smith makes Internet censorship his next crusade, he won't be alone. The Congressional Human Rights Caucus also plans February hearings on the matter.
''We're going to get moving on this," said a caucus member, Democratic Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio. ''There are a lot of people in Congress who are very, very concerned."
Ryan stopped short of calling for legislation. But he noted that the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a research body created by Congress, recently called for legislation requiring American Internet firms to demand a court order from Chinese authorities before revealing information about a user. The law would also require US Internet companies to report such information requests to the US government.
The heat is on! How will the industry respond? With defensiveness or with proactive action?
...AND IN OTHER CHINA CENSORSHIP NEWS: Businessweek reports that Skype has agreed in its China deal with the Chinese internet company Tom Online to censor politically sensitive words.