It's not often you see a group of companies like this working together on something, but Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Vodafone look to have put aside their differences and sat down with each other in an effort to address concerns of privacy rights and freedom of expression relating to their various business dealings (most prominently those with China), joining with a group of nongovernmental organizations to develop a code of conduct that each will follow when such issues arise. While there's no indication when the code of conduct will be finalized or go into effect, the groups working to develop it certainly lead quite a bit of credibility to it, with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, Business for Social Responsibility, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders all having a hand in its drafting. What's not so clear, however, is what, if any, consequences the companies would face should they violate the code, only that they'll be held "accountable for their actions."

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Microsoft, Google, and others developing code of conduct