When Google, Yahoo and Microsoft signed a code of conduct intended to protect online free speech and privacy in restrictive countries, the debate over censorship by China was raging, and internet companies operating there were under fire for putting profit ahead of principle. It seemed the perfect rallying moment for a core cause, and the companies hoped that other technology firms would follow their lead. But three years later, the effort known as the Global Network Initiative has failed to attract any corporate members beyond the original three, limiting its impact and raising questions about its potential as a viable...

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