Technology companies Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Vodafone are in talks with human rights and press freedom groups to draw up an Internet code by the end of 2007 that would counter such trends as the increased jailing of Internet journalists, monitoring of legitimate online activity and censorship. A census by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found that the number of journalists jailed worldwide hit a record last year with 134 in jail by December 1. Over a third of these were Internet bloggers and online reporters. The protection of free speech and the privacy of Web users is a growing issue. Companies, like Yahoo in China (2005), need to be held accountable if they cooperate with governments to suppress free speech or violate human rights.
"Governments around the world are jailing Internet journalists at a growing pace, with 49 bloggers, online editors, and Web-based reporters behind bars at the end of 2006. Protecting the rights of these journalists to express ideas and exchange information without fear of reprisal is one of the highest priorities for the press freedom community today," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.