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Jun 2, 2006 | 01:09 GMT

2 mins read

Google and Yahoo Scrutinized for Business in China

Amnesty International over the past month continued to escalate its campaign against Internet censorship. Amnesty-USA's decision to attend the annual general meetings for Google and Yahoo indicates that these two companies are becoming serious market campaign targets for the Corporate Action Network. In addition, a new Web site based in the United Kingdom indicates that Internet censorship is becoming a global campaign for Amnesty International, not just a project for Amnesty-USA. Amnesty is arguing that although companies claim they cannot tell the Chinese government to change its laws, the same companies have no problem negotiating with the government on other points of necessity for operating in the country, such as intellectual property rights. Amnesty is suggesting certain policy changes that, if implemented by a company, will serve as a shelter from further criticism — at least for a while. At that point, Amnesty will choose a new target and claim that it must implement human rights policies that are at least as good or better than the company that just made changes. More is at stake in Amnesty's campaign than just the brand fallout for targeted companies. Amnesty intends to use the campaign to promote changes in national policies, international agreements and corporate codes of conduct beyond the tech sector. At the moment, the draft U.N. Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights, recently discredited by U.N. Special Representative John Ruggie, may be granted renewed legitimacy as a policy tool if Internet companies choose to voluntarily endorse it — or it may continue to be sidelined.

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