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On Wednesday Republicans and Democrats in Congress rebuked Microsoft for participating in Chinese censorship. Bill Gates, company founder defends the decision, stating, "You've got to decide. Do you want to obey the laws of the countries you're in, or not?"

Chinese people show their appreciation for Google's decision to stand up to their government's censorship.  (Source: Guardian UK)
Rep. Smith, R-N.J.:"They [Microsoft] need to get on the right side of human rights rather than enabling tyranny, which they're doing right now."

There has been much talk about Google's decision to pull out of China while Microsoft has remained directly complicit in Chinese internet censorship.  Today a bipartisan U.S. Congressional panel praised Google's actions, while admonishing Microsoft.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D warned, "China wants to participate in the marketplace of goods but keep the marketplace of ideas outside their country.  Only when China respects human rights and allows the free flow of ideas ... only then will they be treated as a full member of the international community."

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. praised Google, commenting that the company's decision to uncensor its Chinese search was "a remarkable, historic and welcomed action."

GoDaddy, the popular domain registration service, also was praised by Rep. Smith for pulling out of China due to privacy violations.  Microsoft, however, received a rebuke from the Representative.  He stated, "They [Microsoft] need to get on the right side of human rights rather than enabling tyranny, which they're doing right now."

Microsoft insists it is merely following the local law.  A company statement read, "We appreciate that different companies may make different decisions based on their own experiences and views.  At Microsoft we remain committed to advancing free expression through active engagement in over 100 countries, even as we comply with the laws in every country in which we operate."

The statement echoes the words of Microsoft former CEO, co-founder, and renowned philanthropist Bill Gates, who in January remarked, "You've got to decide.  Do you want to obey the laws of the countries you're in, or not?"

China agrees.  Its China's State Council Information Office comments, "Foreign companies need to abide by China's laws when they operate in China.  Google violated it's promise."

The issue is made more complex by the fact that Google has in the past censored search results in other countries, such as Thailand, Turkey, France [see the Wikipedia page on Google's past censorship for more info].  Google has made no suggestion that it will reject censorship in the future.  Nonetheless, its uncensoring of its Chinese search is perhaps the highest profile example of defiance against online censorship in terms of number of people affected.

Microsoft, on the other hand, says it is opposed to Chinese censorship, but continues to participate in it.  It enjoys a wonderful opportunity to capture more of China's close to 400 million internet users with Google out of the picture

A new law may make it more embarrassing for Microsoft to stay this course.  The Global Online Freedom Act, a bipartisan initiative pending in Congress, would force U.S. firms to disclose what materials they are censoring in foreign nations -- including China -- in effect airing search firms' dirty laundry to the public.

Back in China, the government imposed backlash against Google picked up in earnest with China Unicom and other business officially giving the Google search engine the boot.  China Unicom, the nation's second largest carrier, did not announce and immediate replacement.  It has been speculated that it may stop selling Android handsets or at least stop releasing new models, however, those claims have yet to be validated.  It seems clear, however, that the Chinese government is infuriated and Google will likely face more repercussions in coming weeks.



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Both lying to themselves
By carniver on 3/25/2010 2:36:59 PM , Rating: 4
China is foolish to think their citizens don't know how to bypass the great firewall of China through encryption and using proxy

Microsoft is foolish to think they'll do fine by abiding to the so called "laws" in a country whose only real law is their dictatorship; and foolish enough to think their Windows servers are any less hacker friendly than Google's Linux based servers.




RE: Both lying to themselves
By MozeeToby on 3/25/2010 5:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
There is no real, effective censorship except self-censorship, and that's not to say that there isn't real and effective censorship.

You don't have to stop every single person who tries to speak their mind, you just need to stop enough of them so that everyone gets a little nervous and starts watching themselves. You don't need to arrest every person who uses a proxy to get around the firewall, you just need to arrest enough that everyone knows it's a risk.


RE: Both lying to themselves
By mcnabney on 3/25/2010 5:12:21 PM , Rating: 2
You seem to think that China is just America with short people. I imagine that using proxies and encryption will be noticed. If you show up on some other lists they will send someone by your home and take your computer. Or maybe skip the whole investigation and just throw you in jail because it 'appeared' that you were working your way around their controls.


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