A member of the US Senate, Dick Durbin, has asked 30 leading information technology companies, operating in the People’s Republic of China, to provide the details of their operations in the country.
The US Senator has made this request to these US-based companies, which include Microsoft, Facebook and Apple, in order to gather information before the hearing on the human rights practices undertaken by the companies in China.
The aforementioned hearing is taking place in order to evaluate how well these multinational corporations are adhering to a voluntary code of conduct.
They had signed it following criticisms that companies were assisting governments in countries such as China. Yahoo Inc., Microsoft and Google were among the first companies that had come forward and signed the code in 2008.
The move made by the US government signals the first official step taken by it for fighting against internet censorship and freedom of speech restrictions enforced by countries like China and Egypt, on their citizens.
Recently, Google had threatened to close its China operations if it was not allowed to operate in an internet censorship free environment.
Dick Durbin, commenting on the bold stand taken by Google, said in a statement that “I commend Google for coming to the conclusion that cooperating with the 'Great Firewall' of China is inconsistent with their human rights responsibilities.” It will be interesting to see which companies have respected the code of conduct.