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+ - Google Shareholder Proposal to Resist Censorship

Submitted by buxton2k
buxton2k (228339) writes "Slashdot has had plenty of stories about technology companies like Google kowtowing to repressive political regimes such as China's. I'm an (extremely) small shareholder in Google, and I looked at their proxy statement today. Most of the time, shareholders' meetings don't deal with anything other than rubber-stamping the board of directors, but Google's upcoming meeting has a interesting shareholder proposal dealing with free speech and censorship to be voted on at the May 10 meeting.

The proposal cites the UN Declaration of Human Rights and declares that "technology companies in the United States have failed to develop adequate standards by which they can conduct business with authoritarian governments while protecting human rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression". If adopted by shareholders, it would call for management to adopt 6 minimum standards including: not storing data that can identify an individual in repressive countries; using all legal means to resist censorship; and documenting and publicizing "all cases where legally-binding censorship requests have been complied with." The proposal was submitted by the Comptroller of New York City, which owns large amounts of Google stock in City pension plans.

Is a proposal like this (assuming it ever passed) feasible to implement? Would it actually do anything to open up repressive regimes? Is this a reasonable balance between upholding liberal democracy values and doing business in dictatorships? Would it have any effect on domestic issues such as DMCA takedown orders? Most of all, as a shareholder, what is Google's board of directors' justification for recommending that shareholders vote AGAINST this proposal? If you are a Google shareholder, were you aware of this proposal, and if so, are you going to vote for or against?"

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