For Immediate Release: July 2, 2012
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today praised U.S. officials for their strong snd public response to China’s recent decision to censor the Bloomberg News and Businessweek websites. China’s censorship came in retaliation to a Bloomberg News story that was published on Friday, a development the organization notes is a prime example of the ongoing challenges businesses face in China and other markets that repress freedom of information online. China’s actions promoted U.S. State Department officials to publicly call on China to “respect internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet, including freedom of expression.”
“This incident clearly illustrates the challenges even large, mainstream news outlets face from ongoing Chinese censorship and control of the Internet,”said Human Rights First’s Meg Roggensack. “The administration’s public response to China’s censorship of these financial sites is a welcome step. Business needs the support of their home governments as they continue to navigate the tricky waters of operating in nations that fail to respect freedom of expression and other basic human rights.”
According to news reports, China blocked the sites after Bloomberg published an investigative article about the financial dealings of those related to Xi Jingping, who is expected to be China’s next president. The Washington Post reports that “Chinese officials have recently ratcheted up restrictions on and repression of dissidents and journalists ahead of this year’s key meeting of the 18th Party Congress and scheduled top leadership changes.”
Human Rights First is part of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a multistakeholder initiative designed to address efforts by governments to pressure information and telecommunications companies to comply with policies that violate users’ freedom of expression and privacy. The GNI brings together companies from the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, human rights organizations, academics and investors to address laws and policies of governments that seek to enlist companies in acts of censorship and surveillance and to promote the rule of law and the adoption of laws, policies and practices that protect and respect freedom of expression and privacy.
This diverse coalition has developed new principles and guidelines rooted in fundamental human rights guarantees of freedom of expression and privacy. These commitments are supported by a strong accountability framework and ongoing learning and capacity building.