Compromise by Necessity
You can argue with such a compromise, and there are some NGOs that refused to sign on for this or other reasons, but there was no way you would get any industry participants to cooperate with such an effort without such an approach. Telling them they must not comply with local laws is telling them they can't do business in countries with governments that don't respect human rights. There are few if any governments in the world that don't violate their citizens' rights at times. Authoritarian states are more interested in controlling information than they are in having the best information services available to their citizens. If efforts like the GNI really spread and the companies signed up really stick to the letter and spirit of it, then we might find one way to gauge who's more authoritarian than whom.Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. For insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer's blog Cheap Hack.
I have to say I'm impressed with both the companies and the human rights groups involved here. They all recognized that no progress can come from being dogmatic. The important thing is to make sure that important companies don't become part of the state censorship and repression machine. In the long term, as the principles put it, information and communications technology companies and the products and services they provide will help to spread ideas of freedom as they help people to communicate more. In the long term, I don't think the machine can compete.