For Immediate Release: October 20, 2011
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today praised a U.S. inquiry into China’s “national firewall” and said that it’s a welcome step in U.S. and international efforts to combat China’s sweeping internet censorship and surveillance policies. In a letter to his World Trade Organization counterpart from China, Ambassador Michael Punke specifically raised concerns about internet measures that impact trade between the two nations.
“The U.S. should not stop with a letter to the Chinese at the WTO on censorship. China imposes strict censorship and surveillance guidelines when internet service providers, merchants, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and others attempt to enter the Chinese market,” said Human Rights First’s Meg Roggensack. “Washington should use every tool at its disposal to combat these censorship and surveillance polices, including more assertively calling for enforcement of Chinese obligations to the WTO and utilizing the office of the US Trade Representative to keep pressure on Chinese officials to address these harmful practices.”
According to Human Rights First, the blocking of websites is only a portion of the dangerous censorship and surveillance that both companies and users in China face. Surveillance of users through private websites, government demands that companies hand over user information without any form of due process, operating in environments in which hacking is condoned, and other standards that call for private companies operating on the internet to take part in China’s infringement on citizen’s rights to privacy and free expression are commonplace.