[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] took Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! [corporate websites] to task for "Undermining Freedom of Expression in China" [PDF report] as part of a campaign, launched [press release] Thursday, to "combat internet oppression" worldwide. The report alleges that the Internet companies have been complicit in efforts by the Chinese government to silence government critics, in violation of stated corporate policies, and calls upon the companies to petition the Chinese government for the release of "cyber-dissidents."
The Internet companies have made deals with the Chinese government in the past to censor specific search terms that the government finds offensive, such as "human rights," and have complied with subpoena requests to hand over information that has led to the incarceration of Chinese journalists. Such censorship drew sharp criticism from the US Congress [JURIST report] in February, while Google defended the companies' actions [testimony, PDF] as "a meaningful, though imperfect, contribution to the overall expansion of access to information in China." In the run-up to those congressional hearings, Yahoo expressed support for freedom of speech in China [JURIST report]. AP has more.