Microsoft, Google and Yahoo Partner

Freedom of expression and user privacy rights will be defined by a new code of conduct adopted by a coalition of non-governmental organizations including
Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. The NGOs with the triumvirate of Internet giants at
the top will elaborate a code of conduct that will be focused on delivering protection for free speech and user privacy on the Web.

“Technology companies have played a vital role building the economy and providing tools important for democratic reform in developing countries,” commented Leslie Harris, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “But some governments have found ways to turn technology against their citizens — monitoring legitimate online activities and censoring democratic material.”

The NGOs coalitions have sat down with the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in order to produce the guidelines for the Internet conduct code.

According to data provided by the Committee to Protect Journalists, no less than 49 journalists, bloggers, online editors and web reporters were in jail at the beginning of 2007. In this context, the major players on the Internet are working to deliver protection from abuse against free speech and user privacy. “Protecting the rights of these journalists to express ideas and exchange information without fear of reprisal is one of the highest priorities for the press freedom community today,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

The Chinese Internet market comes under the spotlight, as it has been the place of numerous governmental abuses against freedom of speech and privacy rights.