New legislation may impose penalties for U.S. companies that help foreign governments to commit human rights abuses, according to this report at ZDnet. It says that representatives from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco were recently ‘drilled’ by congress for ‘several hours’ on their cooperation with the Chinese government.
In a high profile case, Yahoo has previously come under fire from its shareholders for providing the Chinese government with the identities of pro-democracy dissidents, leading to their ‘arrest’.
One of the bits I don’t like about human rights abuse is the part where people are arrested and taken from their homes and locked up for no good reason and with no fair trial. I’m also not a fan of torture, or of seizing people’s homes without fair compensation. Anything that ends in humans suffering. One would have thought that helping a foreign government do this sort of thing to its citizens, either by providing intelligence or with funding, would be against the law – whether you’re a spy for the Chinese government or a technology company like Yahoo.
When human suffering is involved, providing information to foreign governments goes beyond being an ethical compromise and becomes a world problem.