Internet Freedom Principles vs. Employee Protections

by on January 22, 2010 · 6 comments

Following up from Adam’s post on Hillary Clinton’s speech on global Internet freedom, here’s an interesting blog post from Nora von Ingersleben at ACT. Nora was the lucky (and only) person at the event to ask a question to our Secretary of State. Her question centered upon the practical–while it is well-and-good that companies should “do the right thing”, there are real-world consequences when a company doesn’t comply with a legal request. How can off-shore employees be protected?

QUESTION: Nora von Ingersleben with the Association for Competitive Technology. Madame Secretary, you mentioned that U.S. companies have to do the right thing, not just what is good for their profits. But what if I am a U.S. company and I have a subsidiary in China and the Chinese Government is coming after my guys for information and, you know, we have resisted but now my guys have been taken to jail, my equipment is being hauled away. In that situation, what can the State Department do? Or what will the State Department do?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we obviously speak out on those individual cases. And we are, as I said, hoping to engage in a very candid and constructive conversation with the Chinese Government. We have had a positive year of very open discussions with our Chinese counterparts. I think we have established a foundation of understanding. We disagree on important issues with them. They disagree on important issues with us. They have our perspective; we have our perspective. But obviously, we want to encourage and support increasing openness in China because we believe it will further add to the dynamic growth and the democratization on the local level that we see occurring in China.

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