Microsoft, Yahoo and Google work together on human rights online

Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are working together on business principles to protect free speech when running web operations in countries with poor human rights records.

Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are working together on business principles to protect free speech when running web operations in countries with poor human rights records.

All three firms have been critcised in the past for aiding oppressive states against dissidents - particularly in China - when it comes to handing over "private" data to the authorities.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the troika of internet heavyweights have agreed a common set of principles on how to do business in nations that restrict free speech and expression.

The companies will promise to protect the personal information of their users wherever they do business, and to "narrowly interpret and implement government demands that compromise privacy," reports the Journal.

In the past, the three have simply said they have been bound by local laws when it comes to complying with requests for data on their customers.

So privacy and free speech campaigners will be keenly watching how far the three will go when it comes to dealing with the likes of China.

The three will also look closely at a country's human rights record before moving into it. Sceptics may say that considering all three are already in the world's biggest market - China - they will not lose too many dollars from the new strategy.

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