Google board opposes ethical stance

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Google board opposes ethical stance

Google's board is asking shareholders to vote down attempts to set up a review body to examine the company's role in human rights and to take any steps to stop web censorship..

A filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that the board is opposing attempts by the Office of the Comptroller of New York City and St Scholastica Monastery to "resist demands for censorship" and to keep a record of occasions where it does censor content.

"Shareholders request that management institute policies to help protect freedom of access to the internet which would include the following minimum standards," reads the proposal.

1. Data that can identify individual users should not be hosted in internet restricting countries where political speech can be treated as a crime by the legal system.

2. The company will not engage in proactive censorship.

3. The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.

4. Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.

5. Users should be informed about the company's data retention practices, and the ways in which their data is shared with third parties.

6. The company will document all cases where legally binding censorship requests have been complied with, and that information will be publicly available.

Another resolution, put forward by ethical investors Harrington Investments, is that Google, which has the motto 'Don't be evil', should set up a review board to examine the impact of its business on human rights around the world.

This is the second time such a request has been made by shareholders, and the second time the board has urged a vote against it.
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