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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 nafhan on 3/26/2010 10:44:50 AM , Rating: 4
Lowering the wages of a small group of people in this country is a silly argument in a global market place. It's just as likely that the guy coming here to take the job is keeping that job (and the money from it) in the US. Also, once these people are over here, they get paid based on what they do, not where they came from.
Out of a group of 16 people I work with, half are from Asia. Several are US citizens, and all would stay here if they could.
Your arguments seem more geared towards the type of people who pick fruit, clean houses, etc. Adding highly skilled and educated people to our society makes the US more competitive on a global scale. It doesn't matter if they are homegrown through our excellent educational system or if they immigrated here as adults.

RE: Why pile on Microsoft?
By Suntan on 3/26/2010 12:31:10 PM , Rating: 3
You (and your Asian friends) seem to be the exception. In multiple companies that I have worked at, Indian workers (engineers) were brought over to work (read: learn) how the companies did product development, then take that information back with them to set up development centers in their respective areas of India. At the last company, they were housed in apartments, two employees per apartment and they were given one company car to be shared amongst 4 employees. They stayed for an average of 9 to 14 months and then returned home. Although I never asked specifically what their pay package looked like, in general conversation (asking if people wanted to go out for lunch, go do this or that after work) it was always abundantly clear that there level of monetary compensation was woefully less than an American citizen doing a similar job.

In one instance, three Indian “designers” were sent over to live for a period of 6 months while they became proficient with the way the company modeled purchased parts from other companies (buy a spark plug from a vender then it needs to be modeled so that the company has an appropriate model of the spark plug in the CAD system.) After their 6 month stint, they returned to India and from that point on, all new purchased part samples would be overnight shipped to India for them to model it and then have the sample overnight shipped back to the states. It was cheaper to overnight ship parts there and back to have them modeled than it was to pay an American drafter to model them.

I have no problem with skilled foreigners being allowed in on H1B visas and then having the company support them in gaining green cards to become a long term member of society (my best bud is here on an H1B from Ireland, working on a green card.) however, hauling “skilled” Indians over, packing them into temporary housing, then sending them back home with American jobs is not good for the American workers in those industries.

Lest you suggest that it is completely acceptable for the company to expect them to live with a roommate and share one company car with three other coworkers, no American (or European) that I have worked with, would ever be expected to live with a roommate or share a company car while working away from home for an extended period of time.


RE: Why pile on Microsoft?
By nafhan on 3/26/2010 5:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, your experience does sound different than mine. I was trying to get across that not all foreign workers fit into the stereotype, but, as you've pointed out, though. That stereotype exists for a reason.
However, in a situation like the one you described "stealing" American jobs likely isn't what's happening. Those jobs were gone anyway (or never there to begin with). A more reasonable explination would probably be an American company is staying in business by outsourcing certain aspects of itself.
Labor (white and blue colar) is cheaper in some parts of the world, and someone running a competitive global business has to take that into account.

RE: Why pile on Microsoft?
By Lerianis on 3/28/2010 10:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, and that is what PUNITIVE TARIFFS are for.... to put all countries on a level playing field.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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