Google, along with Microsoft, Yahoo!, and other Internet companies, signed a voluntary code in 2008 spelling out "principles of freedom of expression and privacy." The principles are fairly general, but if taken literally could be quite difficult for Internet companies to adhere to. Still, the pact is a giant step in the right direction.
Microsoft explained in a company news release:
From the Americas to Europe to the Middle East to Africa and Asia, companies in the information and communications industries face increasing government pressure to comply with domestic laws and policies that require censorship and disclosure of personal information in ways that conflict with internationally recognized human rights laws and standards.
A diverse coalition of organizations launched the Global Network Initiative, which establishes guidelines for resisting government efforts to enlist companies in acts of censorship and surveillance. The group is collaborating with other companies, investors, civil society organizations, and academics to establish and implement Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, a doctrine based on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights.
Mike Posner, president of Human Rights First, said,
In today's world, it is urgent for Internet providers and other communications companies to challenge government censorship and intrusion into personal privacy. These practices often lead to tragic consequences for front ...