Reporters Without Borders today called on the heads of 14 leading international corporations supplying computer and Internet equipment to China to take a stand against the government’s repression of the Internet.
It said some of the firms - which are based in North America, Europe, Japan and South Korea - were selling material directly helping the government to spy on and crack down on people using the Internet, while others simply closed their eyes to the situation. All of them, it said, should feel responsible for the plight of China’s embattled Internet users.
The organisation sent a letter to each company’s CEO, along with the first issue of a monthly newsletter, which they will receive regularly, called Internet Repression News, recording the latest government efforts to stifle freedom of expression online.
"We are asking them to bear in mind the contents of the newsletter when making their business decisions," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard.
He noted that the 14 firms targeted each do different kinds of business with China. Cisco Systems supplies special online spying systems while Intel just sells its standard products. Yahoo! agreed to change its portal and search-engine to facilitate censorship in exchange for access to the Chinese market, while South Korea’s Samsung is simply selling its goods to a neighbouring country.
The letters to the CEOs outline the situation, note the degree of responsibility each has in its relations with China and call on them to use their influence to get the government to allow more Internet freedom.
CEOs receiving Internet Repression News
John Chambers, Cisco
Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft (copy to William H. Gates, founder)
Craig R. Barrett, Intel
Charles Dehelly, Thomson
Frank A. Dunn, Nortel
Carleton S. Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard
Guerrino De Luca, Logitech (copy to Daniel Borel, founder)
Lawrence J.Ellison, Oracle
Hajime Sasaki, NEC (board chairman)
Kun-Hee Lee, Samsung
Scott G. McNelly, Sun Microsystems
Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM
Terry Semel, Yahoo! (copy to Jerry Yang, founder)
Serge Tchuruk, Alcatel