Google's proxy: Internet censorship; Schmidt's security detail

Google's proxy: Internet censorship; Schmidt's security detail

Summary: Google filed its proxy statement with the SEC on Tuesday and detailed an attempt to get the search giant to stand up to Internet censorship abroad. Google recommended shareholders vote against the effort.

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Google filed its proxy statement with the SEC on Tuesday and detailed an attempt to get the search giant to stand up to Internet censorship abroad. Google recommended shareholders vote against the effort.

The Internet censorship proposal was raised by the Office of the Comptroller of New York City and St. Scholastica Monastery. The two shareholders likened Internet censorship to a human rights violation. The proposal in full reads as following:

Whereas, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental human rights, and free use of the Internet is protected in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom to “receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”, and

Whereas, the rapid provision of full and uncensored information through the Internet has become a major industry in the United States, and one of its major exports, and

Whereas, political censorship of the Internet degrades the quality of that service and ultimately threatens the integrity and viability of the industry itself, both in the United States and abroad, and

Whereas, some authoritarian foreign governments such as the Governments of Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam block, restrict, and monitor the information their citizens attempt to obtain, and

Whereas, technology companies in the United States such as Google, that operate in countries controlled by authoritarian governments have an obligation to comply with the principles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and

Whereas, technology companies in the United States have failed to develop adequate standards by which they can conduct business with authoritarian governments while protecting human rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression,

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.

That's a long-winded way to say that Google should be more upfront about its dealings with governments that censor the Internet. Google's board recommends shareholders vote against the proposal. From a business perspective it's not hard to see why Google is against the proposal--it would have to pull out of China. Anyone that doesn't vote for the proposal will be read to be a vote against. Another shareholder proposes that Google creates a human rights committee.

While human rights were a big topic the pay table was more of the same. CEO Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, president of products, and Sergey Brin, president of technology, took salaries of $1 each. Schmidt did garner "$474,662 for personal security and approximately $4,000 paid by Google on Eric’s behalf for aggregate incremental costs related to aircraft chartered for Google business on which family and friends flew."

Topics: Security, Browser, Google, Government, Government US

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8 comments
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  • If you don't know Eric Smitz came onboard with Google to Supervise Asia/JPN

    No worries for Google with these complaints. It will be fun to follow this one to the end. Thing will get very amazing with Mr. Smitz Phd. and the Executive Staff walking on rice paper; Catholic rice paper.
    rtirman37
  • evil to go around...

    While Google execs should be ashamed of themselves for trading money for human lives, it's even more of an injustice that governments, PARTICULARLY those that claim to be democratic, aren't more proactive in forcing just behavior from companies like google.

    gary
    gdstark13
  • RE: Google's proxy: Internet censorship; Schmidt's security detail

    I don't really see this as requiring Google to pull out of China, et al. They can still host primary services in China, but any service that tracks the users' usage info would be routed elsewhere (maybe here in the US isn't the safest place anymore either).

    On point two, Google can tacitly allow China to do the filtering instead of performing that function directly.

    All the other points are essentially disclosure, and should be adopted by any and all companies dealing with private data and have no direct impact on Google's presence in China.
    hnkelley
  • RE: Google's proxy: Internet censorship; Schmidt's security detail

    Google--and everyone else!--needs full disclosure about what they do with what people tell them, BEFORE they are told anything. If the Reds want to spy on "their" people, there is nothing We can do about that. But Google, Yahoo!, et. al. need to be spying-free!<BR><BR>
    So I am all in favor of the anti-censorship proposal, and all in favor of the full-disclosure proposal. Big business--and certainly not just Google and Yahoo!--need to disclose everything. <BR><BR>
    <b>How many of the people being foreclosed on would have agreed to those predatory mortgages had they been told the truth?<b> How many would use Google, knowing it was spying on them? Zero? That is as it should be!
    Master Dave
  • Censorship... a tale...of the old USSR

    I once spoke with a Soviet scientist about the old USSR and the topic of fax machines came up.

    This is what he said. The reason that the Soviets fell behind with innovation was because every fax and copy machine was under lock and key. All the scientists were encapsulated.

    The free flow of ideas in labs and between scientists in the West broke the back of science and innovation in the Soviet Union.

    Any state that takes up censorship does so at its own peril, why waste resources fighting a paper dragon. As in the case of the old USSR it doesn't work.
    mikifinaz1
    • RE: Censorship... a tale...of the old USSR

      Excellent point. I completely agree with you. I still don't want our companies or government to be complicit in bringing misery to oppressed people in these countries.

      gary
      gdstark13
  • RE: Google's proxy: Internet censorship; Schmidt's security detail

    Oh brother, big brother. What crap is this? Here's what should be submitted to the shareholders:

    whereas, it is decided that Goooooogle should not operate anywhere because the laws of each land are too intricate to master and Gooooogle is an American company and therefore too arrogant to try and learn them
    whereas, it is decided that because people in Germany can promote Nazi ideology openly, Goooogle should do it for them
    whereas, it is decided that any country that passes a law called a "Patriot Act" that can monitor the reading habits of its citizens should be barred from using Goooooogle
    whereas, any country that does not allow full access to legal council for prisoners but puts them in special prisons, some called Guantanamo, should have all access to Gooooogle's facilities denied,
    whereas, any country whose leadership promotes the use of waterboarding and the like, should not be allowed to use Gooooooogle
    whereas, Goooooogle should disclose any knowledge it might have of a country that can turn on the mobile phones of its citizens without their knowledge and monitor their calls
    whereas.....
    jiagebusen
    • RE: RE: Google's proxy: Internet censorship; Schmidt's security detail

      What's your point? Can you clarify?

      gary
      gdstark13