News

    Logging On in China

    Mil ArcegaChris Simkins

    The Chinese market has become so attractive to Internet companies that critics say these companies are sacrificing fundamental rights of privacy and freedom of speech in order to win approval by the Chinese government.  Those concerns prompted hearings in Washington, D.C. this week by American lawmakers, who want to examine the role of the Internet in china. VOA’s Mil Arcega and Chris Simkins have looked into this issue.  Chris Simkins has our report.

    Members of Congress grilled leaders of four major technology companies, accusing them of cooperating with Chinese officials to censor the Internet and crush dissent in return for access to its booming Internet market. Representatives from Microsoft, Yahoo, Cisco Systems and Google faced harsh questioning from lawmakers from both political parties at the hearing of a House of Representatives International Relations subcommittee.

    Republican Party Congressman Jim Leach accused the Internet firms of cooperation with the Chinese government to block access to Web sites that Beijing objects to in return for allowing them to make money in the country. "I think you just have affirmed a novelty in American commerce: worst practices you've studied and adopted. That is an astonishing circumstance -- and for a government…. And so if this Congress wanted to learn how to censor, we go to you."

    Elliot Schrage, Google's vice president of global communications, said his company's decision to censor its Chinese search engine was a difficult one. "This was not something we did enthusiastically, or not something we're proud of at all. Secondly, we are taking steps that others have not taken, at the very least, make people inside China and those outside China aware of the detail and extent of the filtering that we are required to impose".

    Information technology companies are scrambling to gain access to China and its nearly 200 million Internet users -- even if it means restricting the flow of information.

    Saria Rees-Roberts is a spokesperson for the rights watchdog group, Amnesty International. She says, "It brings up a whole issue of freedom of expression, and this is the latest in a string of examples of global internet companies who are caving into pressure from the Chinese government and censoring their internet sites in one way or the other."

    Google's site for example, omits search results about human rights, Tibet, and other topics that are deemed to be sensitive by Beijing.  Instead, users are directed to government-approved websites.

    In China Thursday, government officials defended the country's Internet censorship policies, saying they are fully in line with international norms and practices. China also denied detaining people simply for writing online.

    Yahoo officials acknowledge that the company's compliance with Chinese law has led to "serious and distressing" consequences, but says it can't tackle the problem on its own.

    Although some U.S. companies have been doing business with oppressive regimes for years, it's new for Internet companies who profit from an industry built on the free exchange of information.

    John Palfrey is head of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society says competition in those markets will be tough. "It's going to be very, very hard to compete and make money in those markets while holding these ethics that these companies say they hold dear."

    Some have accused the American companies of helping China maintain its restrictive policies.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora