Tech Companies Queried on Human Rights in China

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) has sent letters to more than two dozen of the United States’ leading technology and Internet companies, asking each of them “what, if any, measures it will implement to ensure that its products and services do not facilitate human rights abuses by the Chinese government.” And Durbin’s inquiry carries some weight: he chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, and is one of the Senate’s most senior members. Companies queried by Durbin include Google, Facebook, Skype, eBay, Microsoft, and Apple.

The letter is a followup to a letter Durbin sent to a smaller set of companies last year, urging companies to adopt a voluntary code of conduct for companies operating in countries that restrict access to the INternet. Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft supported the proposed code of conduct. However, to date only Google has put its foot down, recently announcing it will no longer cooperate with Chinese government censorship on its Google.cn Chinese-language search engine and threatening to cease operations in China altogether. So far, no other U.S. technology companies have joined Google in taking a stance against Chinese Internet censorship.

Senator Dick Durbin

“I commend Google for coming to the conclusion that cooperating with the ‘Great Firewall’ of China is inconsistent with their human rights responsibilities,” Durbin said in a statement. “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. I look forward to learning more about whether other American companies are willing to follow Google’s lead.”

And Durbin might well learn something: he’s scheduled a hearing next month on global Internet freedoms next month; the event will feature testimony from Google and other companies regarding their business practices in companies that restrict Internet access and censor online content.

Durbin’s letters of inquiry follow on a recent major policy speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that for the first time articulated Internet freedoms as a major plank in the United States’ foreign policy platform. China has characterized U.S. and Western calls for Internet freedom as a form of cultural imperialism.

Companies receigin Durbin’s query that weren’t included in Durbin’s earlier letter include some surprises like Amazon, IBM, Oracle, and RIM. Companies that didn’t bother responding to Durbin’s previous query include Acer, Toshiba, and…Twitter.

Mobile

Biometric phone unlocks can’t be forced by feds, says U.S. judge

Fingerprint and face unlocks used to not be protected by the Fifth Amendment, but that may soon change. A judge in California has ruled biometric unlocking methods of all kinds are protected in the same way as passcodes.
Computing

How to share an external hard drive between Mac and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.
Mobile

The Mi Mix 3 is coming to the U.K. on January 16 for a bargain price

Xiaomi announced the Mi Mix 3, a smartphone with a massive screen, a cool slide-up camera module, up to 10GB of RAM, and in the future, a 5G connection. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Mobile

C you soon? Rumors swirl of a USB-C port on 2019 iPhones

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Apple

Apple may be developing a new iPod Touch to woo younger users

Apple may be developing its first new iPod touch model since 2015 as it aims to capture younger users who are not yet ready for their own smartphone, and expand its overall listening base in the future.
Mobile

The iPhone XS Battery Case's battery has a smaller capacity than previous cases

Apple has been rumored to be working on a new iPhone battery case for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now, those new cases are finally here, offering seven hours of extra use for each iPhone and are available for $129.
Mobile

Join the Apple club with our complete guide to switching from Android to iOS

If Android simply isn’t cutting it for you anymore, then you might be considering Apple’s warm embrace. Here’s how to make the switch from Android to iOS without losing your contacts, sleep, or hair!
Mobile

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.
Mobile

Having trouble logging in? Here’s how to reset your Apple ID password

To use any of Apple's services, you need to have an Apple ID and know your password. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with forgotten passwords and regain access to your account. Here's how to reset your Apple ID password.
Mobile

Turn to these apps to help you in your next hunt for a job

Looking for a job can be a stressful experience, but these days, a simple mobile app can help you to find and apply for jobs all over the country -- here are some of the best job search apps for iOS and Android.
Mobile

Want more power, but faster? This new charging tech claims it can deliver

Chunky power bricks and slow charging could be a thing of the past with GaNFast technology from Navitas Semiconductors. By using an alternative to silicon, GaNFast reduces power consumption and boosts output.
Wearables

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.