The China Dilemma: Internet Censorship and Corporate Responsibility

作者:Justine Nolan
The ever increasing nexus between human rights and business and the accompanying vagueness of concepts such as a company's'sphere of influence or responsibility' for human rights can, and has, created anxiety amongst companies. Considerations of human rights traditionally take place in the context of a state-based system of global governance; however, the rise and rise of the corporation as a powerful non-state actor in recent decades has seen increased interest in understanding the emerging relationship between human rights and business and what if any, responsibility business should assume for protecting human rights. This article considers the role played by US technology companies such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft in working with the Chinese government to censor Internet content and thus intrude on the human rights to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to privacy. It concludes by focusing on the practicalities of protection and how human rights responsibilities might be apportioned between states and business and if so, how, when and why such an obligation might ensue.