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February 15, 2006

Live from Capitol Hill: the Great Wall between business and government

Posted by Kristi Heim at 2:41 PM

Government representatives compared U.S. Internet giants' behavior in China to collusion between IBM and Nazi Germany during World War II.

Politicians accused Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Cisco Systems of partnering with the secret police to censor politically sensitive speech and provide information about dissidents.

The companies claim their presence in China has helped promote freedom of expression and warn that heavy-handed legislation could kill the global Internet.

The two sides are so far apart you have to wonder whether they will agree on anything.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., plans to introduce a bill that would require U.S. tech companies to locate their servers outside of China, not block U.S sites such as Voice of America, and limit exports of certain hardware and software that aid government control of dissent. Here is the bill, and good context on the issue, from Rebecca MacKinnon at Harvard.

While the tech companies say they're willing to discuss industry guidelines, they favored dealing with the censorship issue as a foreign policy matter for Washington.

More on where the debate is headed tomorrow.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
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Kristi Heim
Kristi Heim
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