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Congressman Says IBM Aided Holocaust Planning, Slams Google For 'Net Censorship
Congressman Chris Smith called out Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and Microsoft for censoring politically sensitive content in China and other countries.
In comments sure to provoke a firestorm of controversy, a New Jersey Congressman echoed claims that IBM abetted the Holocaust and said that Internet companies like Google and Yahoo who today censor content at the behest of repressive foreign governments are acting little differently.
"Did you ever wonder why the Gestapo always had all those very well-laid-out prints of where the Jews lived? Because IBM made it happen," said Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), repeating allegations against IBM presented in a book.
"High-tech is doing it today, regrettably, in places like China and Belarus and Saudi Arabia," said Smith.
Smith spoke Thursday in Washington, D.C., at a hearing of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is also known as the Helsinki Commission. The hearing focused on funding an expansion of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
Smith, a Helsinki Commissioner, called out tech companies Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and Microsoft for censoring politically sensitive content in China and other countries lacking free speech protections.
"Google censors out anything you and I would believe is human rights," said Smith. "And they do it voluntarily, amazingly," said Smith, according to a transcript of his comments obtained by InformationWeek.
China this week blocked access to Yahoo, YouTube, and a number of other sites in an effort to stem the flow of news about anti-Beijing uprisings in Tibet. U.S. lawmakers have in the past criticized Internet companies for providing the Chinese government with the technical means for censoring content and for providing it with information on dissident Internet users.
In his testimony last week, Smith said he wants to ensure that "Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft and like are not complicit with dictatorships, have standards that they have to follow in terms of personally identifying information, not being part of -- for instance, like in China -- of the effort to promote propaganda."
Smith has sponsored the Global Online Freedom Act, which would put limits on how U.S. Internet providers cooperate with foreign governments.
Smith's comments last week appear to indicate he's bought into claims in Edwin Black's 2001 book "IBM And The Holocaust" that IBM cooperated with Hitler's Nazi government by selling it computers used to help plan and carry out the Holocaust.
"The author talks about how, when he was going through the Holocaust Museum, he saw this small box that had IBM indicia on it," said Smith, adding that Black's book was "heavily footnoted."
IBM has acknowledged that its Hollerith computers were used by the Nazis, but has repeatedly pointed out out that its German operations fell under control of the Nazi government during the 1930s and 1940s. An IBM spokesman said Tuesday that there is "no basis" for Black's assertions that the company actively cooperated with Hitler's regime.
The spokesman also noted that two lawsuits against the company based on Black's contentions were dismissed.
Calls to Smith's office were not immediately returned.
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