(With apologies for the headline).
I have been meaning to write this story for some time, and I had all the links etc in a draft post. Those who know me and see me on a regular basis have heard me rattling on about this for a while. Seeing as Slashdot has picked it up (and the NY Times has a brief mention from a while back here), though, I may as well just point in their direction. (I was proud of myself for my dirtdigging, so I should be grateful that other great minds went the same way).
So, there’s a proposal from the New York City pension funds to require Google to be a bit nicer on freedom of expression issues. It’s being voted on at the shareholders meeting on the 10th of May. You can read the full thing in the definitive proxy statement (the relevant bit is here. Read with pride how Google (“Do No Evil”) and its board recommends to all shareholders to vote against the resolution. Note additionally that the Google founders (“Do No Evil”) control a substantial proportion of the votes so the resolution doesn’t even have much of a chance. And note of course that votes proxied back to the Board (“Do No Evil”) will be cast against the resolution.
The operative bit is as follows:
Therefore, be it resolved, that shareholders request that management institute policies to help protect freedom of access to the Internet which would include the following minimum standards:
1) Data that can identify individual users should not be hosted in Internet restricting countries, where political speech can be treated as a crime by the legal system.
2) The company will not engage in pro-active censorship.
3) The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.
4) Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.
5) Users should be informed about the company’s data retention practices, and the ways in which their data is shared with third parties.
6) The company will document all cases where legally-binding censorship requests have been complied with, and that information will be publicly available.
(The recitals mention the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and so on).
Terrible stuff. Do no evil and vote against this nonsense.
Don’t forget that the EU is writing to Google about its privacy practices, and that Yahoo! is! being! sued! Let the games begin.
Do no evil.