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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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RE: Why pile on Microsoft?
By MadMan007 on 3/25/2010 3:08:26 PM , Rating: 4
Joseph McCarthy called, he wants his witch hunt back.

RE: Why pile on Microsoft?
By sebmel on 3/26/2010 2:49:07 PM , Rating: 2
Why is this a witch hunt?

"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?""

The statement clearly begs the question: Any country?

What if you're in Zimbabwe, or Sudan?
What if it's 1936 and you find that the National Socialists have just hijacked parliament?

Theres a real issue here. When does one say: No, I'm not going to cooperate with that.

I remember another person who shared Bill Gate's view: Margaret Thatcher. She refused to issue sanctions against South Africa when it was a white supremacist ruled country. She argued for 'constructive engagement'.

In my personal view that didn't reflect very well on her character and wasn't worthy of the the land of Lord Winston Churchill and William Wilberforce.

RE: Why pile on Microsoft?
By MadMan007 on 3/27/2010 1:14:10 AM , Rating: 4
Everything the Communists in Obama's congress despise.

He could have made his cynical point without that rediculously hyperbolic sentence.

RE: Why pile on Microsoft?
By epobirs on 3/27/2010 3:28:10 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, because Churchill was really down on South Africa.

There is much to be said for engagement. It played a vital role in the collapse of the Soviet Union, as its people became increasingly aware how much their lives sucked compared to so much else of the world.

And speaking of the USSR, its existence was another reason for engaging nations whose leadership was frequently loathsome. Both sides were vying for alliances, especially with regions like South Africa where some very important resources could be obtained that were very scarce elsewhere.

This interplay played a major role in the birth of our current President. He was in the US because he was being groomed as a less left-wing future leader compared to some of his fellow countrymen whom were being mentored by the Soviets.

The big bad world isn't like the grade school playground. You cannot limit the players to just those kids you like and expect to like the results.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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