Last month we wrote an Open Letter to the netizens of China requesting them to stand in solidarity with netizens in Pakistan. China’s firewall — extensive internet blocking system — has long been considered an ideal model for authorities in Pakistan, with authorities in Pakistan keen on replicating the china model. Chinese spy-tech companies Huawei and ZTE have been accused of aiding censorship in Libya and Iran. Our Partners Business Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC) contacted Huawei and ZTE for a response, while Huawei responded through a quote in South China Morning Post, ZTE responded to BHRRC,
“ZTE has business in more than 140 countries, and complies with the laws and regulations in all the markets where we operate. As an international company, we are respectful of local cultures and customs.”
BHRRC points out that ZTE’s response is strikingly similar to a response that Yahoo! gave on the issue of internet freedom in China, back in 2005, when information it provided to Chinese authorities led to the arrest of Shi Tao:
“Just like any other global company, Yahoo! must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based.”
ZTE’s non-committal response demonstrates their indifference towards the human rights violations carried through the technology they sell. Despite consistent efforts to inform surveillance companies of the human rights implications involved in this trade it is hugely disappointing that these companies continue to violate international standards. Bolo Bhi is joining BHRRC in inviting comments on this statement by ZTE.
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Bolo Bhi means ‘Speak up’, in Urdu. We are a not-for-profit geared towards advocacy, policy and research in the areas of gender rights, government transparency, legislation, Internet freedom, digital security, privacy and empowerment. We, at Bolo Bhi, believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers, media and citizens. It is by bridging this gap that one can move ahead to chart a way forward and resolve issues through consensus, in a way that is mutually beneficial.
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