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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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By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/2010 2:51:40 PM , Rating: -1
Sticks it's big crooked nose into more shit it doesn't belong in. Film at 11...

You know since when in the hell was it Congresses place to oversight every single thing that happens in the country ?? Isn't this why we have a JUDICIAL branch ??

Congress, frankly and recent events have proven, there are lots of people fed up with you at the moment. Unless you cherish the idea of losing your jobs, I suggest you let the government function as intended. If Google or Microsoft has broken some law here, let the judicial branch do their jobs. Otherwise sit down and shut the FUCK UP.

RE: Congress
By kfonda on 3/25/2010 3:04:50 PM , Rating: 2
But what about the children... we have to save the children and the planet too.

I just hope congress doesn't do too much more damage before we get a chance to throw them out in November.

RE: Congress
By PitViper007 on 3/25/2010 5:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately they're going to try. Next on the radar is immigration reform. While I agree it does need reform, just as the medical insurance system (our health care is FINE, LEAVE IT ALONE!) needs reform, I'm sure they'll screw it up just like they did for the so-called Health Care Reform.

RE: Congress
By MadMan007 on 3/25/2010 3:06:30 PM , Rating: 2
Just curious here:
Unless you cherish the idea of losing your jobs,

NAFTA? 'free trade'? Please let's keep any discussion civil and not pork-ish ;) I am just curious on your thoughts of these tenets of lasseiz-faire capitalism vis-a-vis the quote above.

Just one thing to note in the 24/7 newsbite environment, statements like those by Congresspeople quoted in this article hint at their line of thinking even if they aren't codified in law, yet...Congress makes the laws that the Judiciary then interprets and rules upon. So while such statements may not be law yet it gives insight in to a potential direction that lawmakers might take.

RE: Congress
By lightfoot on 3/25/2010 3:24:20 PM , Rating: 2
No matter what law Congress passes, they can not supersede the laws of China.

RE: Congress
By Jalek on 3/25/2010 4:06:23 PM , Rating: 2
That was why grain sales to China and the "most favored nation" status was debated every year. They were using the only real leverage they had to press China.

Clinton ended that, and now they're a WTO member, so none of that's allowed.

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