The recent controversy around Yahoo’s role in arrest of Chinese writer, Google’s self censorship, and in the context of “Prophet Muhammed’s cartoon” controversy raises the question of role of industry in furthering values of democracy and freedom of speech. Should industry and companies go beyond mere passive compliance to local laws to a more activist stance?
In the 80s Sullivan Foundation & Sullivan principles represented a voluntary industry effort to oppose apartheid. Religious, gender based discrimination, repressive Islamic regimes, environment, etc. etc. are all equally worthy issues that companies should not shy away from. Passive compliance seems like the easy way out, I believe firms should proactively aim to be a force for “good” while striking a fine balance with respect for diversity and differing value systems. It is difficult, yet responsible leaders will have to struggle with and find the right balance.
As opposed to a voluntary effort the proposed “Global Online Freedom Act 2006 ”, does look like overly intrusive in scope that takes a rather simplistic view of the nuances of issues involved. Check out Rebecca Mackinnon’s (former CNN China correspondent) website for a better understanding of the context and issues involved.