New York, February 14, 2006 —The Committee to Protect Journalists has told a U.S. Congressional committee that Western Internet companies should use the leverage afforded them by superior technology and market dominance to resist demands made by governments such as China seeking to censor information or identify and persecute those who exercise their right to free expression.
CPJ, in written testimony to the House subcommittee that oversees global human rights, said that in the last year alone it had documented Internet censorship in 22 countries, including Tunisia, Iran, Vietnam, and Nepal.
“Yet none raises as much concern as China, where the government has imprisoned at least 18 Internet writers,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper told the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.
“Our great fear is that China’s authoritarian approach—aided by U.S.-based Internet companies—will become the model for repressive regimes wishing to restrict the flow of information,” she added.
CPJ joined with other press freedom advocates in urging voluntary measures. But if Chinese pressure on Internet companies to censor proves too strong, legislation would be in order to bar U.S.-based firms from exposing journalists to persecution or enabling government censorship, CPJ said.