In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),
Google’s board of directors recommended shareholders vote against
a proposal by New York City’s Comptroller that would require the
company to follow a set of standards “to help protect freedom of access
to the Internet.”
The Comptroller’s office is custodian and
trustee for 486,617 Google shares held in funds for city employees,
such as teachers, police and firefighters.
Citing freedom of speech and freedom of the press as “fundamental
human rights,” the Comptroller’s office called for Google to refrain from engaging in proactive censorship, complying with censorship demands
unless bound to through legal procedures or hosting user data in
countries where political speech can be a crime.
The proposal also
calls for Google to tell users when it is filtering or censoring for
a government and keep a public record of instances with the company
complies with censorship laws. The proposal requests that Google keep
user informed as to how the company stores its data.
“Political censorship of the Internet degrades the quality of that
service and ultimately threatens the integrity and viability of the
industry itself, both in the United States and abroad,” reads the
Neither Google nor the comptroller’s office responded to a request for comment. The vote will be held at Google’s annual stockholders meeting on May 10.