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Businesses Google Microsoft The Internet Yahoo! Privacy Censorship Your Rights Online

Tech Giants In Human Rights Deal 97

Ostracus writes "Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have signed a global a code of conduct promising to offer better protection for online free speech and against official intrusion." Anyone want to know what this means for China & Australia? I bet it means even less to all of us in America where every major data center has a secret room where the government sniffs our packets.
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Tech Giants In Human Rights Deal

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  • Talk is cheap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:03AM (#25553403)

    Unless these companies are willing to stand up and pull out of countries like China if their governments refuse to back down, then this agreement is as worthless as the paper it's written on. The same advice applies to business PR spin as applies to political PR spin: "Look at actions, not words, for the REAL story."

    And yes, this privacy policy should apply to the U.S. government as well. No special exception should be made just because the U.S. President runs around yelling "9-11!"

  • except ... morals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Meneth ( 872868 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:17AM (#25553525)
    The "principles" they've signed can be disregarded if necessary to protect "national security or public order, or public health or morals".

    This is, of course, interpreted so broadly by those in power that the declaration becomes essentially useless.
  • by nvatvani ( 989200 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:24AM (#25553593)

    Unless NGO's have an office/unit internally within Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google to oversee their conducts and verify their compliance to the flashy Global Code they are taunting - all this is just a PR stunt.

    With ANY company:

    • FIRST comes MONEY!!!
    • SECOND comes morals (if any, and entirely optional).
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:30AM (#25553651) Journal

    "essentially useless" ???? How about truly useless?

    The simple fact is, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Had any of these computing behemoths actually previously stood up against governments or oppressive groups in the past, their pact might actually be cause to think brightly about the future. Sadly, historically they have all shown themselves to be in the business of collecting dollars rather than collecting accolades from human rights organizations. Signing the pact does not indicate any true devotion to changing that business in the future. What you call essentially should in fact be written as 'actually'... IMO.

    If any or all of them actually do stand against oppressive groups or governments despite possible loss of revenue it would indeed mean I'm wrong, and I hope to be told I was wrong at some very near future date.

  • by Matt Perry ( 793115 ) <> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:39AM (#25553727)

    There's nothing in the article that talks about how this will be enforced. So, I want to know how will this be enforced? What will be the repercussions for a company that violates the agreement? How will compliance be measured and accounted for? Who will oversee this to ensure that the companies involved are complying? Without answers to these questions this agreement among companies is "just promises." And promises are largely worthless.

  • by nysus ( 162232 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:52AM (#25553927)
    "Code of Conduct" is a euphemism for "idealized behavior that we can put aside when practical reality sets in." What we really need are LAWS that are enforced and that punish people the agencies and authorities in power when they are broken.
  • Re:Talk is cheap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @10:07AM (#25554185)
    You're only obligated to abide by a country's laws if you have chosen to business there in the first place. Just because Saudi Arabia has the death penalty for religious blasphemy doesn't mean I have to move my company in there and help the motherfuckers.
  • Re:Talk is cheap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MindKata ( 957167 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @10:28AM (#25554573) Journal
    "I think we all now what this agreement is: PR "

    My first thought on hearing the headline, was at last. Something good? But yeah, reading the details, its just PR. But the more I think about it, the more its likely to be actually worse than just PR.

    Without any legal teeth, this near useless agreement is simply to placate and blind the masses, into believing something is being done to maintain freedom and fairness. So if anything, as it stands, its worse than not having an agreement. Because now, every time something bad is added to Big Brother, they will wave this bit of paper and say something like... "but, everyone, we are thinking of all of you. Look we signed this agreement, to say we care." ... Yeah, right, and its not for their own gain, that they data mine us all and then sell us all to their highest bidder, while silencing any attempt for any news organizations to speak out against them. But then how many of the news organizations are also playing along.

    Since the start of the whole web 2.0 user generated content idea became popular, some people in power have said many times, how much they hate user generated content. But then, its no wonder they do hate it, as its likely the only way the full truth is getting out these days. Plus in countries like the UK, they want to create literally Big Brother to monitor everything that is said online. While Australia wants to censor the net. ... Oh sorry Big Brother, should I have also said China was bad... yeah, they are bad, but listen to our media, they constantly point only at someone else, and then look away, when its Big Brother aimed at all of us.

    No wonder some people in power want to monitor, control and even at times, silence user generated content. People may actually discuss political points of view, rather than be simply spoon feed points of view, by the large news organizations, like Rupert Murdoch's group.
  • Re:Paranoia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bender0x7D1 ( 536254 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @10:42AM (#25554817)

    We did have people from the FBI or Secret Service come in every once in a while and ask for a hard drive out of a server. We'd tell the customer he had hardware problems as we mirrored the drive.

    Did you make sure they had the proper warrants? Did you inform the customers of the real reason for the problems if they didn't have warrants, or if they didn't have gag orders? If you didn't protect your customers from federal agents overstepping their bounds, or informing them of the actions of the federal agents, you are part of the problem.

    Now, if they had the proper warrants and court orders, then, by all means, you should help them out. If not, then you should tell them to read the Constitution and get back to you when they have done their job properly.

  • by Rick Bentley ( 988595 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @10:47AM (#25554929) Homepage

    We did have people from the FBI or Secret Service come in every once in a while and ask for a hard drive out of a server. We'd tell the customer he had hardware problems as we mirrored the drive.

    This might be the scariest thing I've ever read. You wouldn't tell the customer that someone showed up with a court order to see the drive and you had no choice but to comply? Did the FBI or SS at least show up with a court order? Did your legal department always review it first, how long did they have to do that? In what way were you bound to not tell the customer?

    It makes me itch in a very major way that the customer's legal department never got engaged. I can't imagine that you guys would defend their rights to privacy as zealously as they might. It's also creepy as hell that the customer didn't know that they were being snooped upon while their trusted service provider inflicts them with downtime and lies about the reason for it.

    Do other /.'ers have experience with being forced to turn over 3rd party private data?

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