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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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tyranny
By kfonda on 3/25/2010 3:37:49 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
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."


So is it safe to assume that congress will not be borrowing any more money from this tyrannical country and GM won't be selling any more cars there. Maybe we should stop allowing anything made in china from being imported into the US since we are just contributing to the oppression of the poor Chinese people.

Microsoft does not appear to be breaking any laws. So maybe congress should leave it up to the shareholders how they want to run their company.




RE: tyranny
By mcnabney on 3/25/2010 5:16:22 PM , Rating: 2
I think the perspective here is that being directly complicit with the massive censorship is actually being part of the problem. By playing ball with the Chinese government it makes it much easier for them to surpress their people since the West is even using their technological innovations to keep the civilians down. Selling Buicks doesn't deprive the Chinese of their freedom, but pre-sanitizing the Web for the government most certainly does.


RE: tyranny
By kfonda on 3/25/2010 5:47:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Selling Buicks doesn't deprive the Chinese of their freedom, but pre-sanitizing the Web for the government most certainly does.


I believe, under their current system of government, the Chinese people do not have freedom. If they would like that to change, they should do something about it. Maybe they are just fine with the way their government works.


RE: tyranny
By Lerianis on 3/28/2010 9:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
Or, just like a child who has been raised in a home where her father beats and forcible rapes her on a daily basis, they simply don't know that is wrong and don't know any better.

That said, I am PRO-pedosexual, but ANTI-rapist.


"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis














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