New Scrutiny on Censorship Issues for U.S. Companies in China

Following Google’s challenge to Chinese censorship and ahead of Senate hearings on the topic, the New York Times looks at how other foreign companies respond to requests to censor in China:

Amazon’s U.S. headquarters declined to comment on the issue of censorship, saying only that the company was obliged to abide by the laws of the countries it which it operated. It does not, for example, sell Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Germany, where the book is banned.

But Amazon and other U.S. companies doing business in China are coming under new scrutiny from politicians and human rights groups since Google’s recent announcement that it planned to stop adhering to government demands that it censor search results in China and perhaps would pull out of the country. Google complained that the accounts of dissidents who use the company’s Gmail service had been infiltrated, apparently by Chinese hackers.

The No. 2 leader in the U.S. Senate, Richard J. Durbin, has scheduled hearings for Tuesday on the issue of global Internet freedom. Mr. Durbin sent letters to 30 American information and technology companies, including Amazon, Apple, eBay and Verizon, requesting information on their business conduct in China and human rights practices.

Representatives from Google and McAfee are among those scheduled to appear at the hearing.