CORRECTED – UPDATE 1-US senator presses tech firms on practices in China

(Corrects first paragraph to make clear not all 30 companies
are U.S.)

* Google to testify at March hearing

* Lawmakers plan Feb 10 hearing on China policies

* U.S. officials to testify on promoting Internet freedom

* Tech firms urged to join Global Network Initiative
(Adds background, detail on letter)

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (BestGrowthStock) – A Democratic senator said on
Tuesday he has asked 30 companies, including Apple (AAPL.O: ),
Facebook and Skype, for information on their human rights
practices in China in the aftermath of Google’s (GOOG.O: )
decision to no longer cooperate with Chinese Internet
censorship efforts.

“Google sets a strong example in standing up to the Chinese
government’s continued failure to respect the fundamental human
rights of free expression and privacy,” Assistant Senate
Majority Leader Dick Durbin said in a statement. “I look
forward to learning more about whether other American companies
are willing to follow Google’s lead.”

Google, the world’s top Internet search engine, said last
month it would not abide by Beijing-mandated censorship of its
Chinese-language search engine and might quit the Chinese
market entirely because of cyber attacks from China.

Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on
Human Rights and the Law, said his panel will hold a hearing in
March to question Google and other companies on their business
practices in countries that restrict Internet freedom.

The panel also will hear testimony from high-ranking U.S.
government officials on what President Barack Obama’s
administration is doing to promote Internet freedom, he said.

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders of the
Congressional-Executive Commission on China said they would
hold a hearing on February 10 to examine the impact of China’s
Internet policies on humans and development of the commercial
rule of law in China.

That watchdog panel was created by U.S. legislation
approving China’s entry into the WTO in 2001.

Durbin’s letter asks each firm for details of its business
in China and what, if any, measures it will implement to ensure
that its products and services do not facilitate human rights
abuses by the Chinese government.

Durbin also urged the companies to join a voluntary code of
conduct known as the Global Network Initiative, which regulates
the actions of technology firms operating in countries that
restrict the Internet and already is backed by Google,
Microsoft (MSFT.O: ) and Yahoo (YHOO.O: )!

The senior Senate Democrat sent one of four slightly
different letters to following 30 companies:

ACER (2353.TW: ), Amazon (AMZN.O: ), Apple, AT&T (T.N: ), Cisco
(CSCO.O: ), Dell (DELL.O: ), eBay (EBAY.O: ), Facebook, Fortinet
(FTNT.O: ), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N: ), IAC, IBM (IBM.N: ), Juniper
(JNPR.N: ), Lenovo (0992.HK: ), McAfee (MFE.N: ), Motorola (MOT.N: ),
News Corp (NWSA.O: ), Nokia (NOK1V.HE: ), Nokia Siemens [NOKI.UL],
Oracle (ORCL.O: ), Research In Motion (RIM.TO: ), SAP (SAPG.DE: ),
Siemens (SIEGn.DE: ), Skype, Sprint Nextel (S.N: ), Toshiba
(6104.T: ), Twitter, Verizon (VZ.N: ), Vodafone (VOD.L: ) and
Websense (WBSN.O: ).

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(Reporting by Doug Palmer and John Poirier; Editing by Doina
Chiacu and Bill Trott)

CORRECTED – UPDATE 1-US senator presses tech firms on practices in China