The Business of Human Rights: the Ping-Pong Game

Whose responsibility is it to decide whether a country has a free or repressive Internet?
Internet Responsibility


A Ping-Pong play started this afternoon at the IGF workshop, named Corporate Responsibility and ICTs organized by the Global Network Initiative.

Businesses were keen to defend their position in regards to recent/not so recent Internet Censorship issues. Two interventions particularly stroke the audience. For Pedro Less Andrade, senior Policy Counsel at Google “The challenge is how to operate a system that suits everybody, opinions are different in each country and influences range from cultural values, politics, moral values to individual interests”.

In other words, no standards in terms of Internet Freedom should be set by businesses, as they don’t have the experience and expertise International Institutions and Civil Society have. As a demonstration, he admits that Youtube is blocked in a way or the other in 17 countries and fully inaccessible in North Korea, China and Iran. “It’s not in our only competencies” concludes him.

One step further, Nokia-Siemens representative jumps in and declares “it’s not to businesses to decide whether or not a country is repressive, don’t leave up the decision to us”. Now the ball is not anymore in their court.

No wonder, his intervention-highly controversial- gathered many negative feedbacks from the audience. If businesses, don’t take responsibility for- let’s say- shut down the internet, who will ?

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