Amnesty International is pretty angry with Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. The human rights organization has put out a report blasting the three search engines for how they’ve handled their operations in China. Yahoo was named as the worst of the group.
None of them got off easy, however. Even the name of the report was a condemnation – the main heading was “Undermining Freedom of Expression in China,” and the subtitle read “The role of Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google.” There is also a prominent quote from Kofi Annan, part of which reads, “Without openness, without the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, the information revolution will stall, and the information society we hope to build will be stillborn.”
The section headings were equally harsh. In a portion devoted to the three companies, the titles included “Mismatch between values and actions” and “Contravening their principle that users come first.” And the report simultaneously gave a slap and a small handshake with the heading “From denial to acknowledgement.”
Amnesty didn’t just attack the leading search trio and walk away, though – it made some fairly reasonable “Recommendations for Action.” Among these was the suggestion to “Exhaust all judicial remedies and appeals in China and internationally before complying with state directives.” And after that, the corporations could “Make publicly available all agreements between the company and the Chinese government.”
Will the search companies listen? Google is probably too busy celebrating its impressive new earnings report. Yahoo is likely too depressed over its own financial state to pay much attention to a non-profit agency. Maybe Microsoft will take note – it seems to be shaping up on the anti-trust front, anyway.