Durbin Statement on Final Approval of Long-awaited Internet Code of Conduct

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement today after a number of the largest internet companies, human rights organizations and other stakeholders finally approved a voluntary code of conduct governing companies' operations in countries where internet freedom is restricted. Durbin noted that Congressional action may still be needed to protect freedom of expression and user privacy.


"Freedom of expression is a fundamental right guaranteed to all people and the advent of the internet has allowed billions of people to exercise this right more fully. I commend Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and other participants for approving a code of conduct aimed at protecting this right while repressive regimes trample on it."


"Though not perfect, this code of conduct is an important step toward promoting freedom of expression and protecting the privacy of internet users around the world. I hope this agreement will be promptly implemented and its membership expanded."


"While companies operating in internet-restricting countries have an obligation to respect free expression and user privacy, governments bear the primary responsibility for protecting human rights. Congress should follow the lead of the private sector by considering internet freedom legislation that would complement the code of conduct. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the new Administration on this issue next year."


Durbin is the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee. He held a hearing in May on "Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law," where he urged participating companies to finalize the code of conduct as soon as possible. Representatives from Google and Yahoo! testified at May's hearing.


In July, Durbin wrote to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! pressing them to them to finalize the code of conduct. In August, Durbin announced that, in response to his letter, the companies had notified him that they had reached an agreement in principle on the code of conduct.