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Human rights - voluntary guidelines for the Internet?

It has been reported that the 'internet' companies Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have agreed to a set of voluntary guidelines that are aimed at reducing the risk that their actions could assist in the execution of human rights abuses in China and other countries.

I didn't see any mention of how adherence to those guidelines might be monitored. In fact it's going to be nearly impossible, although adverse outcomes tend to surface eventually.

While voluntary guidelines are all good, and a definite step forward, I think there were voluntary guidelines at banks that included not making outrageous gambles with shareholder and depositor funds and we can all see where that's got us.

There should be an international treaty and local legislation to support it. Otherwise what's the downside? No downside - no deterrent.

Unless of course you've noticed the share prices of companies with imperfect ethics records such as GooG, ebAY, yahOO, and other associated businesses have been less than stellar generally since before the downturn.

We have already seen it get unsurprisingly Orwellian and we need to think about the benefits and risks of letting go any further.

It's very important to pay a bit of attention and get this internet thing right for our children and their children. Now is the time.

That 'voluntary guideline shuffle' was a baby step, not a 'giant leap for mankind'.

Neil Armstrong's Giant Leap onto the moon  - Courtesy NASA

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