Freedom of Speech Comes to a Rapid Boil

As early as 2006, disclosures by big tech companies show an increasing shareholder unease with censorship of free speech. This timeline shows the first shareholder proposal to the big tech companies on censorship of free speech in October of 2006. And 2012 saw the beginning of the ramp up. The Statistics unveil the story, and the Filings provide the deep dive into the details. 

Scroll below the interactive statistical info-graph, to an excerpt from the Oct 2006 shareholder proposal.

–First Shareholder Proposal to Microsoft in October 2006 —

Whereas, this same 2005 report says that ”The [Chinese] law states that the “freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens are protected by law;” however, the authorities often did not respect the privacy of citizens in practice. During the year authorities monitored telephone conversations, facsimile transmissions, e-mail, text messaging, and Internet communications. Authorities also opened and censored domestic and international mail. The security services routinely monitored and entered residences and offices to gain access to computers, telephones, and fax machines. All major hotels had a sizable internal security presence, and hotel guestrooms were sometimes bugged and searched for sensitive or proprietary materials;3

Whereas, “last year a survey of 2000 private companies by the National People’s Congress found most firms were violating the basic rights of their employees;”4

Whereas, Microsoft recently announced plans to spend $900 million in China “purchasing computer hardware and investing in Chinese software companies;”5

Whereas, ”the Chinese company Lenovo promised it will pre-install Microsoft Windows on its new PCs;”6

Whereas, Chinese bloggers who want to use Microsoft’s blogging software have found that they cannot use certain words or phrases – past examples have included “democracy”, ”freedom” and even “capitalism”  in titles of their blogs;”7

Whereas, last year Microsoft closed down the blog of a Chinese dissident at the request of the Chinese government;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the shareholders request that no later than January 1, 2007, our company will no longer sell products or services to any foreign government, or agency or department of any foreign government, including, but not limited to, the military and police, that knowingly can be used to deny basic human or labor rights pursuant to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If you want to know what the Board of Directors recommended as a vote and why? Search Kaleidoscope’s advanced SEC research platform for all results the “free speech” topic or click HERE