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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

US Congress to Hold Hearings On Google's Partnership With China

Representative Chris Smith, Republican from New Jersey's 4th District and Chair of the House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations (phew), has announced that he will call hearings on February 16th into the activities US internet companies like Google are taking inside China. Here are some quotes from his press release (his emphasis):
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) criticized Google Inc. for caving to the demands of the Chinese government by agreeing to censor its own search results.
[...]

“It is astounding that Google, whose corporate philosophy is ‘don’t be evil,’ would enable evil by cooperating with China’s censorship policies just to make a buck,” said Smith, who has been a leading human rights advocate since being elected to Congress. China’s policy of cutting off the free flow of information is prohibitive for the growth of democracy and the rule of law. Many Chinese have suffered imprisonment and torture in the service of truth – and now Google is collaborating with their persecutors.”

Congressman Smith noted that the internet is a powerful tool that could be used to empower voices calling for freedom and democracy across the globe.

“Internet companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft attract some of the best and brightest minds to develop cutting edge technology that can be used for good throughout the world,” said Smith. “The ability to communicate openly is the key to unlock the door to freedom for those who cannot feel its touch, and these companies can help to provide that.”

Rep. Smith has invited various US companies to testify at the hearing, including: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco. Also scheduled to testify are: State Department Senior Advisor for China and Mongolia James Keefe, State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Communications and Information Policy David Gross, Julien Pain from Reporters Without Borders and Harry Wu from the LaoGai Research Foundation.

“Years ago we fought to give Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia the capacity to empower the voices of freedom throughout communist countries and look at the success that followed,” said Smith, who authored the law to authorize Radio Free Asia to broadcast 24 hours daily. “Americans need to empower those who seek the path of democracy, not stifle their ability to speak.”

This is a huge step towards holding Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo accountable for their deplorable operating procedures inside China. American companies should not be providing custom-made censorship apparatus for China. I wonder if Google thinks Congressional hearings into their repression of freedom will help their bottom-line? More so, do Google's investors want to watch while their company is disgraced and revealed as the true hypocrites they are?

You can contact Representative Chris Smith and thank him for taking this initiative and doing the right thing -- and encourage him to stay strong in his pursuit of truth and justice. If you're a Tibetan tell him what it means to you that a US Congressman is standing up for the rights of Tibetans inside of Tibet.

His contact info:
Washington DC Office Phone: (202) 225-3765
Email him through http://www.house.gov/writerep/. He's from New Jersey and use 08759 as the zip code to reach him. You'll then fill out forms saying where you're from -- since this form only works if you're from his district, make sure you enter your home city as Hamilton and use a general address like # Main St.
Write him at:
Representative Chris Smith
2373 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515

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