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US internet companies criticized for China censorship

[JURIST] Several members of the US House of Representatives Wednesday sharply criticized US internet companies for complying with the Chinese government's censorship requests at a Human Rights subcommittee hearing [agenda]. The hearing was called [JURIST report] after Microsoft [corporate website], Yahoo! [corporate website; press release], Cisco [corporate website] and Google [corporate website] admitted that they have been voluntarily withholding from internet users in China certain political and religious content that the Chinese government - which continues to broaden the scope of its censorship laws [AP report] - views as harmful.

Rep. Chris Smith [official website] condemned "enabling dictatorship" for the "sake of profits." A Yahoo! spokesperson echoed [prepared testimony, PDF] a statement issued by the company [JURIST report] on Monday in which it said it was "deeply concerned by efforts of governments to restrict and control open access to information and communication." A representative of Google defended the companies' actions [testimony, PDF] as "a meaningful, though imperfect, contribution to the overall expansion of access to information in China." AP has more.

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