In February of 2006 during a congressional hearing on Internet use in China, Congressman Tom Lantos made the following statement regarding Google and Yahoo:
“These companies need to do more than show they have virtual backbone. What Congress is looking for is real spine and a willingness to stand up to the outrageous demands of a totalitarian regime… They need to stand with us in fighting repression in China and everywhere they intend to do business.”
This week it appears that Google and Yahoo have heeded Congressman Lantos' wise advice. As the result of a cyber attack experienced by Google that appears to have targeted the accounts of Chinese human rights activists, Google issued a statement saying that they are no longer willing to censor their search results on the Chinese version of their search engine, even if it means they can no longer do business in China. Since Google took a stand and reported the abuse to the US State Department, Yahoo has made a statement that they stand behind Google in condemning the attack.
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice applauds Google for its courageous and moral response to this infringement of Internet free speech. The Internet should be a tool of freedom not repression. The free expression of ideas on the Internet can inform, educate, organize, and empower individuals and organizations and it is an especially powerful tool in countries where freedoms are limited. We urge Google and Yahoo to continue along this principled path. The Lantos Foundation looks forward to supporting their efforts in support of free speech, and hope more members of the public and private sector will join them.