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Public Statements

Letters to 30 Information and Communications Technology Companies, Including Apple, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today sent letters to 30 information and communications technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter, seeking information about their human rights practices in China following the recent revelation that Google was the subject of a sophisticated cyber-attack in that country. In response to the attack, Google announced it will no longer cooperate with Chinese internet censorship efforts and has threatened to end all Chinese operations.

Durbin, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, also announced plans to hold a follow-up hearing on global internet freedom next month. The hearing will feature testimony from Google and other companies about their business practices in internet-restricting countries, as well as from high-ranking Obama Administration officials about the Administration's efforts to promote internet freedom.

"I commend Google for coming to the conclusion that cooperating with the "Great Firewall' of China is inconsistent with their human rights responsibilities," Durbin said. "Google sets a strong example in standing up to the Chinese government's continued failure to respect the fundamental human rights of free expression and privacy. I look forward to learning more about whether other American companies are willing to follow Google's lead."

Durbin's letter asks each firm for details of its business in China, and what, if any, measures it will implement to ensure that its products and services do not facilitate human rights abuses by the Chinese government.

Today's letter also follows up on a letter that Durbin sent last year, urging technology firms to join a voluntary code of conduct known as the Global Network Initiative (GNI). The code of conduct, which regulates the actions of technology firms operating in countries that restrict the internet, has been backed by Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. A copy of last year's letter can be found here.

Durbin sent letters to the following companies:

Companies that responded to Durbin's previous letter: Apple, AT&T, Cisco, Dell, eBay, Facebook, HP, McAfee, News Corp, Nokia, Nokia Siemens, Siemens, Skype, Sprint Nextel, Verizon, Vodafone, Websense.

Companies that partially responded to Durbin's previous letter: Fortinet, Lenovo, Motorola

Companies that did not respond to Durbin's previous letter: Acer, Juniper, Toshiba, Twitter

Companies that did not receive Durbin's previous letter: Amazon, IAC, IBM, Oracle, RIM, SAP

The upcoming hearing will build on Durbin's 2008 hearing examining these issues, at which he questioned Google and Yahoo extensively about their operations in China and urged them to launch the GNI. More information about that hearing can be found here.

The text of the letters appears below:

---------------------------------------------------------------------
January 29, 2010


Mark Zuckerberg
CEO and Co-Founder
Facebook
1601 S. California Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94304


Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

Thank you for responding to my letter of August 6, 2009. I write to you again following the recent revelations about a Chinese cyberattack on Google and other companies, and Google's subsequent announcement that it will no longer censor its China search engine.

In response to these developments, which have serious implications for internet freedom in China and around the world, I plan to convene a hearing of the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee. This hearing will follow up on "Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law," a hearing I held on May 20, 2008, at which Google, Yahoo!, and Cisco were questioned extensively about their human rights practices. In preparation for this upcoming hearing, I would appreciate your response to the following:

* Please provide a detailed description of your company's business in China.
* What are your company's future plans for protecting human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy, in China? Please describe any specific measures you will take to ensure that your products and/or services do not facilitate human rights abuses by the Chinese government, including censoring the internet and monitoring political and religious dissidents.


My hearing will also focus on the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a voluntary code of conduct for internet and communications technology companies that requires participating companies to take reasonable measures to protect human rights. I believe that the GNI has great potential to advance human rights if member companies fully implement the GNI's principles and the GNI's membership is expanded.

Thank you for responding to the questions about the GNI in my August 6th letter. On September 10, 2009, the GNI held an "Open House" for companies interested in the GNI (http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/newsandevents/Open_House.php). According to the GNI:

Attendees included companies from the telecommunications, equipment and software manufacturing, and Internet sectors. ... Many companies expressed interest in continuing discussions. The GNI is convening a workstream to explore how the current GNI guidelines can be further developed to assist other companies in their efforts to protect freedom of expression and privacy.

In light of these developments, please respond to the following additional questions:

* Did representatives of your company attend the GNI open house? If no, why not?
* Does your company plan to participate in the GNI workstream? If no, why not?

I would greatly appreciate your response to these questions no later than February 19, 2010.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin

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January 29, 2010
Jeffrey Bezos
President, CEO and Chairman of the Board
Amazon
1200 12th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98144

Dear Mr. Bezos,

I write to you following the recent revelations about a Chinese cyberattack on Google and other companies, and Google's subsequent announcement that it will no longer censor its China search engine.

In response to these developments, which have serious implications for internet freedom in China and around the world, I plan to convene a hearing of the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee. This hearing will follow up on "Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law," a hearing I held on May 20, 2008, at which Google, Yahoo!, and Cisco were questioned extensively about their human rights practices. In preparation for this upcoming hearing, I would appreciate your response to the following:

* Please provide a detailed description of your company's business in China.
* What are your company's future plans for protecting human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy, in China? Please describe any specific measures you will take to ensure that your products and/or services do not facilitate human rights abuses by the Chinese government, including censoring the internet and monitoring political and religious dissidents.

My hearing will also focus on the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a voluntary code of conduct for internet and communications technology companies that requires participating companies to take reasonable measures to protect human rights. I believe that the GNI has great potential to advance human rights if member companies fully implement the GNI's principles and the GNI's membership is expanded.

On September 10, 2009, the GNI held an "Open House" for companies interested in the GNI (http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/newsandevents/Open_House.php). According to the GNI:

Attendees included companies from the telecommunications, equipment and software manufacturing, and Internet sectors. ... Many companies expressed interest in continuing discussions. The GNI is convening a workstream to explore how the current GNI guidelines can be further developed to assist other companies in their efforts to protect freedom of expression and privacy.

Please respond to the following additional questions:

* What are your company's views on the GNI?
* Does your company currently follow any of the GNI principles?
* Will your company consider joining the GNI? If yes, please describe the process you will follow to consider joining the GNI. If no, why not?
* Did representatives of your company attend the GNI open house? If no, why not?
* Does your company plan to participate in the GNI workstream? If no, why not?
* Please describe your company's policies and practices for advancing and protecting human rights and minimizing the risk that your products and/or services will facilitate human rights abuses.

I would greatly appreciate your response to these questions no later than February 19, 2010.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin

---------------------------------------------------------------------

January 29, 2010
Ken Xie
President and CEO
Fortinet Inc.
1090 Kifer Rd.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

Dear Mr. Xie,

You did not respond to several questions in my letter of August 6, 2009, and I would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience. I write to you again following the recent revelations about a Chinese cyberattack on Google and other companies, and Google's subsequent announcement that it will no longer censor its China search engine.

In response to these developments, which have serious implications for internet freedom in China and around the world, I plan to convene a hearing of the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee in February. This hearing will follow up on "Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law," a hearing I held on May 20, 2008, at which Google, Yahoo!, and Cisco were questioned extensively about their human rights practices. In preparation for our upcoming hearing, I would appreciate your response to the following:

* Please provide a detailed description of your company's business in China.
* What are your company's future plans for protecting human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy, in China? Please describe any specific measures you will take to ensure that your products and/or services do not facilitate human rights abuses by the Chinese government, including censoring the internet and monitoring political and religious dissidents.

My hearing will also focus on the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a voluntary code of conduct for internet and communications technology companies that requires participating companies to take reasonable measures to protect human rights. I believe that the GNI has great potential to advance human rights if member companies fully implement the GNI's principles and the GNI's membership is expanded.

In my August 6th letter, I asked you a number of questions about the GNI. Please respond to these questions, which are repeated below for your convenience:

* What are your company's views on the GNI?
* Will your company consider joining the GNI? If yes, please describe the process you will follow to consider joining the GNI. If no, why not?
* Does your company currently follow any of the GNI principles?
* Please describe your company's policies and practices for advancing and protecting human rights and minimizing the risk that your products and/or services will facilitate human rights abuses.

On September 10, 2009, the GNI held an "Open House" for companies interested in the GNI (http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/newsandevents/Open_House.php). According to the GNI:

Attendees included companies from the telecommunications, equipment and software manufacturing, and Internet sectors. ... Many companies expressed interest in continuing discussions. The GNI is convening a workstream to explore how the current GNI guidelines can be further developed to assist other companies in their efforts to protect freedom of expression and privacy.

In light of these developments, please respond to the following additional questions:

* Did representatives of your company attend the GNI open house? If no, why not?
* Does your company plan to participate in the GNI workstream? If no, why not?

I would greatly appreciate your response to these questions no later than February 19, 2010.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin

---------------------------------------------------------------------

January 29, 2010
Evan Williams
CEO
Twitter, Inc.
539 Bryant St., Suite 402
San Francisco, CA 94107

Dear Mr. Williams,

I am disappointed that you have not yet replied to my letter of August 6, 2009, and would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience. I write to you again following the recent revelations about a Chinese cyberattack on Google and other companies, and Google's subsequent announcement that it will no longer censor its China search engine.

In response to these developments, which have serious implications for internet freedom in China and around the world, I plan to convene a hearing of the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee in February. This hearing will follow up on "Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law," a hearing I held on May 20, 2008, at which Google, Yahoo!, and Cisco were questioned extensively about their human rights practices. In preparation for our upcoming hearing, I would appreciate your response to the following:

* Please provide a detailed description of your company's business in China.
* What are your company's future plans for protecting human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy, in China? Please describe any specific measures you will take to ensure that your products and/or services do not facilitate human rights abuses by the Chinese government, including censoring the internet and monitoring political and religious dissidents.

My hearing will also focus on the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a voluntary code of conduct for internet and communications technology companies that requires participating companies to take reasonable measures to protect human rights. I believe that the GNI has great potential to advance human rights if member companies fully implement the GNI's principles and the GNI's membership is expanded.

In my August 6th letter, I asked you a number of questions about the GNI. Please respond to these questions, which are repeated below for your convenience:

* What are your company's views on the GNI?
* Will your company consider joining the GNI? If yes, please describe the process you will follow to consider joining the GNI. If no, why not?
* Does your company currently follow any of the GNI principles?
* Please describe your company's policies and practices for advancing and protecting human rights and minimizing the risk that your products and/or services will facilitate human rights abuses.

On September 10, 2009, the GNI held an "Open House" for companies interested in the GNI (http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/newsandevents/Open_House.php). According to the GNI:

Attendees included companies from the telecommunications, equipment and software manufacturing, and Internet sectors. ... Many companies expressed interest in continuing discussions. The GNI is convening a workstream to explore how the current GNI guidelines can be further developed to assist other companies in their efforts to protect freedom of expression and privacy.

In light of these developments, please respond to the following additional questions:

* Did representatives of your company attend the GNI open house? If no, why not?
* Does your company plan to participate in the GNI workstream? If no, why not?

I would greatly appreciate your response to these questions no later than February 19, 2010.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin


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