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Censorship Your Rights Online

Americans And Chinese Internet Censorship 718

Posted by timothy
from the can-you-read-this-in-beijing dept.
chowbok writes: "The Weekly Standard writes that despite expectations, the Chinese Government has been very successful in suppressing free internet access for their citizens. Key to this success was the assistance of Cisco, who built a giant firewall tailored to the state's needs, Yahoo (who helpfully censors search results and monitors online chats), and other Western companies."
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Americans And Chinese Internet Censorship

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  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dj28 (212815) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:05PM (#3029797)
    It always amazed me why China connected to the public internet anyways if they are going to censor everything except the stuff _they_ want their citizens to see. Wouldn't it have been much more efficient to build the network and not connect it to the public internet? All they would have to do then is place information on their network they want their citizens to see. In any even, it's pretty screwed up.
    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tomstdenis (446163)
      First off, who are you to impose your values on others? Maybe the chinese like their society, maybe they don't. But its not upto *you* to force your values on others.

      I mean we can make up stats like there is no tommorow showing one side in favour of the other. In the end your conclusion is "This is my society, and that is yours".

      The point of the censorship is not to close off the outside world, just stuff the g' determines is inappropriate.

      Why don't we sell playboys and such to 6 yr olds now? While the g' in China is not just censoring from 6 yr olds the same ideas apply.

      Which is why for example hate speech [in certain forms] is illegal in Canada but not in the U.S.

      So are you going to say Canada is some 3rd rate country because we have "censorship" on hate speech? [*]

      Everytime china comes up every american spews their views on why China is inferior. Maybe its high time you look at your own damn society for faults. On an aside. I just realized I sit on a bus full of 50 people for about 45 mins each day and I haven't said a word to any of them. For that matter they all remain quiet themselves...

      Point being, if you want to look on improving a society take a look around your own. You'll be amazed at how imperfect your world is. The best thing you can do is try to improve it and stop bitching.

      Tom
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fishebulb (257214) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:30PM (#3029896)
      take a history class. Censorship is a common practice in the US.

      Lets see, WWI, its illegal to hinder the war effort. One man was arrested for distrubiting flyers to draftees. Freedom of speech, apparently not. And now you say but that was then.

      we have so many laws in the US that effectively controls most forms of speech. These laws have legit purposes, but they have been and will continue to control unpopular speech.

      Want to get on a soap box downtown in a peaceful, way (ie not shouting at the top of your lungs). Well thats loitering, disturbing the peace.

      Free speech seems to be one of those values in the US that is only really protected, as long as its what your saying is popular.

      atleast written and digital censorship is a little less existant. but its amazing what laws are out there.

      I find it funny and disturbing that there are NO LOITERING signs at out public parks.
      • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

        Yikes. The censorship executed by the Chinese is so far and away beyond that of the US that it's almost ludicrous to compare the two. You pulled up /., right? People on here criticize the US government all the time, right? People criticize Bush, Ashcroft, the CIA, the FBI, the DMCA, and just about anything else they can think of. Does anybody get stopped? Anybody arrested? (Ok, ok, Dmitry Skylarov and all that, and I agree some of the IP laws are a little extreme, but nobody's been arrested for simply _complaining_ about the laws.) Yes, the FBI has carnivore, and that's not necessarily a good thing, but there are many ways around that, and we pretty much have the right to connect to any computer we want on any port and send any kind of traffic, as long as it isn't illegal otherwise or does damage to the computer.

        You want to have a rally in a park? It's really simple. Go down to the city parks department, tell them when and where, pay them the $25 or whatever, and if you're not going to destroy the park in the process, they'll give you a little perimt, and you can go to town. If you don't have the $25, skip McDonalds for a couple weeks and save it. Or collect a buck from each of your friends. There's nothing great stopping you.

        And yes, we do have censorship during war time. But that doesn't happen very often, and when it does, it always gets lifted. That's the difference. We don't live under the onerous restrictions every day. And for that matter, censorship during wartime has a very legitimate purpose. Do you seriously think the world would be a better place if Stalin or Hitler had conquered Europe? We all agreed people should keep their mouths shut for a few years, and it turned out much better than it would have otherwise.
        • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fishebulb (257214)
          what was that quote: "freedom of the press is limited to those who own one"
          Permits have often been used as a method of denying legit rallies. Its quite easy to "lose the paperwork" etc.

          Censorship of free speech has no purpose at any time. This is distinct from say not allowing the media to broadcast the plans of invasion before it happens.

          Basically you have to ask the govt, why is a war needed if a speech can shake people's belief in the purpose of that war.

          in response to the carnivore comment. The weight is now put on me to hide what i am saying so the govt cant read it? yes what a free society we live in. There shouldnt be ways around it, simply because there should be no NEED for it.

          How would someone questioning the govt's involvement in the war (specifically WWI and II) allow the conquest of Europe?

          Every action the Govt and leaders take need to be questioned for motive. Trust must also be present. Sounds like a contradiction? maybe, but i cannot trust a leader/govt if i do not look at their motives.

          You know how many of those restrictions get lifted? they are declared unconstitutional. as in they shouldnt be laws in the first place.

          Dont get me wrong, I do believe the US is a more free society than many other countries in the world. (not all etc). But just because its good, doesnt mean it cant be improved, and that it cant slide down to bad.
          • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Claudius (32768)
            Censorship of free speech has no purpose at any time.

            This is a bit naive. Political canvassing outside polling places, for example, is censored speech in the U.S., an abridgement of civil liberties for the distinct purpose of supporting democracy through fair elections. As another example, one who has access to national security information (take nuclear weapons information, for example) cannot share this information without going to jail. This has the distinct purpose (we may quibble about the validity of the purpose, but it is a purpose nonetheless) of preserving U.S. sovereignty and the safety of its citizens and allies. However, it entails an abridgement of civil liberties for those "in the know." One cannot stand up in synagogue and scream "Death to kikes!" without some expectation of legal recourse.

            Freedom of speech is a lofty goal, and indeed it is treated with more reverence in the U.S. than in most other countries, but it is not and cannot be considered an absolute. Even now, with the "War on Terror," this freedom is being curtailed in the name of "national security" in ways we may well have considered impossible just one year ago. China, for reasons of its own national security, has even more severe restrictions on speech.

            Personally, the most alarming aspect of this is that these companies were able to produce technology which satisfies, to a large degree, the rather tight-fisted control of information required by the PRC government. This bodes badly for those who hoped that the practical, technical difficulties of censorship would effectively block attempts to censor speech in the U.S.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by maxpublic (450413) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @06:48AM (#3030990) Homepage
          Although it seems rather silly to point this out, government is not a neutral entity that will impartially issue you permits and provide information no matter what group or interest you represent. Having worked for government I saw countless examples of information getting 'lost' until it was too late to be useful, permits denied for a variety of reasons (e.g., lost the paperwork, paperwork incomplete, 'anonymous threats', etc.), peaceful gatherings raided by police using the quite illegal 'hold and release' tactic, intimidation by forming up riot lines against a rally (somewhat amusing when there are more police than folks at the rally), documents destroyed or altered against all records laws when said documents might lead to problems, etc. etc.

          The list of abuses I personally witnessed is a long one. Very few people in government at *any* level give a rats ass about the law; if you think otherwise I suggest you stop deluding yourself. Government is interested only in furthering its own goals (whatever they might be) and the law doesn't amount to a hill of beans if it interferes with the pursuit of those goals. The average citizen, especially a citizen that objects to government action, is held in utter contempt.

          The playing field isn't at all level and nothing about it is fair. Censorship in the U.S. is quite real and happens regularly, even if you, the guy on the street, has no idea it's happening. It isn't what's going on in China, but it's alot worse than what you might think.

          Max
    • Simple (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170)
      It always amazed me why China connected to the public internet anyways if they are going to censor everything except the stuff _they_ want their citizens to see.


      The leadership recognises that to compete in the world the China must interact with the rest of it, but to preserve their positions in power the leaders restrict it. Keep in mind that there are conservative elements in the Beijing goverment who are opposed to many of these advances. Once the government loses more of these people and they're replaced with leaders from the new middle and upper classes, well, things should change.


      On another note... I wonder if any chinese leaders have mod points on slashdot?

    • This would ultimately be futile. All it really takes is one machine on the network that has a connection to the public internet, and bang -- the whole network is on the public internet. And it is possible that there would be a lot of people that would be willing to do this. An analogy would be DeCSS mirrors...stopping them or shutting them all down is more or less futile because there will always be more people willing to do it in the name of "stopping the man."
    • It always amazed me why China connected to the public internet anyways if they are going to censor everything except the stuff _they_ want their citizens to see.

      As the article said you can learn a lot more by allowing certain access to forbidden content. Its easier to find enemys of the state if a) they can find those forbidden sites, and b) you can track them. Think of it as a honeypot for the politically undesirable. IMO even worse than just cutting everyone off.
  • a thought... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zook (34771)
    Maybe we need a law prohibiting US companies from participating in the denial of human rights to individuals home and abroad. It seems like the self-proclaimed defender of the oppressed should at least make sure that her companies aren't contributing to the problem.
    • Although you'd get huge argument from die-hard liberatarians (well, some of 'em. Others might argue that taking away human rights is taking away other's right to the persuit of happyness... and that you shouldn't work with communist counties anyway)

      But who knows. I doubt that china would really have not been able to do this on their own, it would just have taken more time, time that their citizens wouldn't have been able to get on the 'net at all.
  • ...for hacktivists to try and find a way around that wall. After all, it's not illegal for us to get information to them...also, I imagine there will be quite a few bold Chinese hackers trying the same on the other side. Perhaps this could be the ultimate proof that individuals, ordinary citizens, can conquer antiquated state dictatorships (as well as clueless Internet companies who provide them with the tools to oppress their people)...
  • Cisco built (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:13PM (#3029822)
    the Great Firewall of China?

    Is it visible from space, too?
  • This reminds me of the book about how IBM helped Nazi Germany deal with all it's informational needs, you know population tracking ,organizing and sorting. Anything for a Buck!
    • These companies are just meeting someone's demand for a product. Shouldn't we be more upset with the Chinese Gov't (or Nazi's as in your example) for their trampling their people's inalienable rights?

      Something to think about: Would we all feel better if they used a mainframe or cluster running Linux and ipchains?

      The problem is what they are doing, not how they go about it.
  • Capitalism (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mikeage (119105) <slashdot@ m i k e a g e .net> on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:14PM (#3029829) Homepage
    That's pure capitalism: a movement dedicated to economic growth over moral (in this case, freedom) concerns. Honestly-- I see no problem here. Well, we can complain about China, but I think Yahoo and Cisco etc. can't be faulted for what they did, unless we accept the idea that money doesn't actually rule the world (ironically enough, that was Marx-- Mao was a bit more of a nutcase).
    • Re:Capitalism (Score:2, Informative)

      by SGHarms (167872)
      It is my opinion that you've hit on the most powerful aspect of Cisco selling to China.

      In the long run, the free market will be the undoing of totalitarian regimes. This thesis is played out in a creatiwe context in Asimov's _Foundation_ series.

      Remember, Marco Polo entered China through the back door weilding commerce as the weapon of choice - it is to Cisco's credit that they recognize this opportunity for what it is: a chance to make the most populous nation a nation of consumers.
  • SPAM? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by homer_ca (144738) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:18PM (#3029846)
    If these firewalls are so good why do I get so much porn and get-rich-quick spam through Chinese open relays? If nothing else, the spam would be a good channel for steganographic messages to and from dissidents.
    • I'm really surprised the Chinese Government hasn't shut down freaking china-net. Does anyone have any evidence of any sort of steganography being used by the Chinese?

      I'm even more surprised that all the users of this site haven't put together some decent specs for a smarter email server. There are a couple of halfway solutions out there but we need something good. I guess I'll have to do it myself.

  • I had a discussion with a (less technically minded) friend the other day. Her contention was that "someone" (ISP's, presumably) should be in control of all the porn content online. This way, the ISP would be able to offer two services: (1) all the internet in its pr0n glory and, (2) the "friendly" internet without the pr0n.

    The discussion went back and forth, her perspective mainly being, "it doesn't matter how technically infeasible it is. I am a consumer. I'll pay big bucks for it." I was arguing against the idea from a technical feasibility standpoint -- the scale of filtering would be massive, and automated filtering would produce all sorts of errors (false positives and negatives).

    But, the great firewall of China is an interesting argument for the other side of the coin. If something this massive has actually been successful, isn't the great pr0n filter a feasible idea, too?

    Think of the commercial implications!
  • by jACL (75401) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:20PM (#3029853)
    There was a very insightful (and long) article that I came across on the Atlantic Monthly's site a while back. Called 'Was Democracy Just a Moment' [theatlantic.com], its central point was that economic development and a strong middle class needs to develop in a country before democracy can succeed. The article predicts that democracy, were it to 'break out' today in China, would at the very least cause a split of the country:

    "Under its authoritarian system China has dramatically improved the quality of life for hundreds of millions of its people. My point, hard as it may be for Americans to accept, is that Russia may be failing in part because it is a democracy and China may be succeeding in part because it is not. Having traveled through much of western China, where Muslim Turkic Uighurs (who despise the Chinese) often predominate, I find it hard to imagine a truly democratic China without at least a partial breakup of the country. Such a breakup would lead to chaos in western China, because the Uighurs are poorer and less educated than most Chinese and have a terrible historical record of governing themselves. Had the student demonstrations in 1989 in Tiananmen Square led to democracy, would the astoundingly high economic growth rates of the 1990s still obtain? I am not certain, because democracy in China would have ignited turmoil not just in the Muslim west of the country but elsewhere, too; order would have decreased but corruption would not have. The social and economic breakdowns under democratic rule in Albania and Bulgaria, where the tradition of pre-communist bourgeois life is weak or nonexistent (as in China), contrasted with more-successful democratic venues like Hungary and the Czech Republic, which have had well-established bourgeoisie, constitute further proof that our belief in democracy regardless of local conditions amounts to cultural hubris."

    Heady stuff, and something that really made my head spin -- wasn't democracy good in all situations and all cases? The author would probably assert that censorship will continue to occur in China until a stable economy and strong middle class break open China to democracy, at which point it will end.
    • We're dealing with a basic question of what kind of governance we believe in. Are there cases where we accept entire populations being forcibly integrated into larger dictatorships "for their own good"? We finally got our act together 20 years too late in East Timor - we accept that people have the basic right to choose their own governments, even if it means that they'll be poorer/more ignorant/vitamin-C deficient, whatever. The Uigers may not have a good track record of handling their own affairs, but shouldn't it be up to them to choose how they handle them, rather than their self-appointed Big Brothers?
    • economic development and a strong middle class needs to develop in a country before democracy can succeed

      Balls. The U.S. was more or less a third world country when it got started, and it succeeded.

      A country that believes it must have a controlled society and few freedoms until it can "afford them," will never NEVER be able to "afford" them.

      Once they have economic development, if they ever do on a wide scale, they will point to their success under a repressive regime and say, "see, it works!" I don't think it will work.
      • Balls. The U.S. was more or less a third world country when it got started, and it succeeded.

        The U.S. was nothing of the sort. First of all, the U.S. got its independence before the Industrial Revolution, which is what made the modern world's economic divisions. (In fact, the U.S. was a full participant in the Industrial Revolution when it happened.) Also, we were a solid part of the transatlantic trade, not as producers of raw materials (although we did that too -- cotton), but as traders. We had much more in common with small trading nations of Europe (like Holland) than we did with other European colonies, which became the modern third world.

    • by meggito (516763) <npt23@drexel.edu> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @12:42AM (#3030220) Homepage
      No, democracy IS good in all situations and all places. Just go read the history books they give you in school. THe United States is never wrong. We didn't invade Mexico, they attacked us! We didn't destroy the way of life in the Philipines, we helped them grow as a country. The US is never wrong and democracy is always right. Damn that Marx fellow and all his clever ideas about working together for a common good. Damn that country that rules over a billion people and manages to do a good job. Its all bullshit commie lies.
      • People who dont live in a democracy often seem to wish they do. How many people living in a democracy wish they were living in a dictatorship?

        Also, if people living under a democracy want to do things for the common good, they would. Manifestly they dont - they want to look out for themselves. Imposing a dictatorship on such people will hardly make them happier.
    • by cygnusx (193092) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @12:56AM (#3030268) Homepage
      One of the better /. stories in a long time. My two bits: when India was freed from British rule in 1947, there were quite a few naysayers: "how could India, where thousands die for lack of food, afford the luxury of a *democracy*? Elections cost money, dammit!" But elections are held every 5 years (sooner if the government resigns and no alternative can be found), and a (usually) effective opposition ensures that the government of the day can never pass a day without some oppsotion party trying to cause them some grief.

      Does it work perfectly? No. A lot of Indians, ~30% of them, mostly in villages, are illiterate: they tend to get swayed by things like caste which an enlightened voter wouldn't consider. Then there are some parties with agendas so venal I wish they wouldn't exist.

      But in spite of all of this, it works, and we have a pretty good judicial system to back it up (the anglo-saxon system of jurisprudence -- probably the best thing the Brits left behind) and pull up offenders.

      So: yeah, India hasn't been as successful as China in increasing the quality of life -- especially for its villages (the cities do pretty well), but I would rather have this than an authoritarian regime breathing down my neck.

      So, yeah, democracy *is* good in all situations and all cases -- for people who believe in it. If India can make it work with one billion people (and some of them very poor), and with a cultural diversity that exceeds Europe, then there is no question in my mind that it can work in any place.

    • by mizhi (186984) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:39AM (#3030590) Homepage
      "Having traveled through much of western China, where Muslim Turkic Uighurs (who despise the Chinese) often predominate, I find it hard to imagine a truly democratic China without at least a partial breakup of the country. Such a breakup would lead to chaos in western China, because the Uighurs are poorer and less educated than most Chinese and have a terrible historical record of governing themselves."

      Keep this in mind, when reading about Uyghur history, especially in the Xinjiang province: The history is very politically charged. There are Uyghurs who wish to see an East Turkestan established, the Chinese, and the Russians both have interests in not seeing an independent nation established. The history of both sides is tailored to meet these needs. China maintains that Xinjiang was, and always has been, a part of China. The Uyghurs maintains that this is false. I tend to fall on the side of the Uyghurs, but I also believe that they are little better than the communists in manipulating historical record. Thus, the history has become, I think, permanently distorted, at least until archeologists can get into the region and do some serious excavating.

      A couple of points to your otherwise insightful post. 1) The Uyghurs are poorer, but they have a very interesting history and, at least in the Northwestern Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, actually managed to establish a kingdom that was at relative peace for 1000 years, aside from a brief 200 year voluntary stint under the Mongul empire. China was attempting an annexation of Xinjiang since 104BC, and each time was expelled until 1867 when the Manchurians finally firmly implanted themselves. Even at this juncture, they were expelled in 1933 and Xinjiang was never really taken over until 1949. I most certainly doubt that the Uyghurs were an exceptionally poor people during this time, considering the Silk Road runs right through their land. I am not sure about this last statement, that is speculation on my part. 2) The Uyghurs are the majority ethnic group in Xinjiang. Just to make sure people realize that they aren't a minority with dense pockets here and there.
      3) China will never willingly give up Xinjiang. The region is far too rich in natural gas and oil. Look up the gas pipeline. It's the second largest infrastructure project next to the three gorges dam project. China has sunk an amazing amount of capital in terms of utilizing it's vast stores there, and is set to recieve a tremendous amount of foreign investment into the region because of this. A split in China? Don't hold your breath. :-)

  • by hyrdra (260687) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:21PM (#3029856) Homepage Journal
    Of all the rhetoric in this very disturbing piece of how western companies are helping censorship overseas, I found this comment most interesting:

    "We don't care about the [Chinese government's] rules. It's none of Cisco's business."

    Similar to how Mercedes or BMW didn't care much for what those giant ovens were used for in NAZI Germany, because it was none of their business. Oh how the ashes fall.

    Disgusting. I can say I will never think of Cisco the same way again. What if the US decided they needed to "monitor" citizen Internet communications? Would Cisco step up with one of their enterprise level solutions?

    Right next to Oracle with bids for a national ID card...
    • We recently had an argument very similar to this on my LUG list about web filtering in libraries and schools. Evidently a large portion of Americans don't think censorship of the reader is the same as censorship of the writer and most don't seem to think it's wrong to censor what others can read. Many also seem to feel that it's okay to do something that is wrong if it's their job or to do so is compliant with the law.

      I guess in light of those results I'm not at all surprised that corporate America is helping destroy freedom. Hopefully, there is at least enough people that do object to such behavior that we can at least mourn the death of freedom. The experiment the United States played such a large part in seems to be over and it's failed. Rah rah go greed and power.
    • Of all the rhetoric in this very disturbing piece of how western companies are helping censorship overseas, I found this comment most interesting:

      "We don't care about the [Chinese government's] rules. It's none of Cisco's business."

      Similar to how Mercedes or BMW didn't care much for what those giant ovens were used for in NAZI Germany, because it was none of their business. Oh how the ashes fall.


      Oh! Or how about how the drug dealers contribute to terrorism? Isn't this the same kind of thing? We are cracking down on those helping out the "terrorists", but doing nothing to those who are helping out the single most evil and cruel socio-political system in the history of the new world? This is logical?
      • We are cracking down on those helping out the "terrorists", but doing nothing to those who are helping out the single most evil and cruel socio-political system in the history of the new world?

        China isn't a member of "The Axis of Evil". (Cue ominous music). Remember, there are two BILLION armpits in China.

    • Corporations are amoral. Their only purpose is to maximize shareholder value, i.e. sales and profits. If they act in a way that reduces their shareholder value, e.g. by acting "morally responsible", they can even be sued by their shareholders under certain circumstances.

      The same corporations that create airplanes also manufacture weapons that are sold into the third world. The insurance companies lobby for safer cars, but also for less privacy to create better consumer profiles. The clothes corporations employ kids under deplorable conditions. The oil corporations support corrupt regimes in order to get drilling rights. And so on ad infinitum. Cisco supplying tools that can be used for censorship is hardly the worst crime that corporations can be accused of. The whole arms industry thrives of death and suffering, and it is in their corporate interest to create more of it.

      That's why corporations need to be regulated. You just can't expect them to do the right thing, that would not only be idiotically naive, it would be fatal.

      • > That's why corporations need to be regulated.

        Bah, I still like to pretend this (US) is a free country. We don't need more rules, more regulation. Granted, some restrictions on big business are needed (like environmental and anti-trust, etc), but I like to leave the rest to social movement theory. I feel like there are so many rules in this country as it is.

        If a sizeable amount of society can't agree on such a movement, is it really what we as a society want?

        Call me a rule utilitarian, but I don't think Cisco did anything wrong since it was not illegal. If society doesn't like it they need to elect and petition politicians to change the law.
        • I laugh whenever I'm in a situation where someone tells me "Hey! It's a free country".

          No it isn't. You don't have the freedom to do a lot of things. Sure we're freer than a lot of other countries but that's changing.

          I recently read a great essay called "The Rise of the Fourth Reich" which compares G.W Bush to Hitler.

          Read it for yourself here [whatreallyhappened.com]

          Anyway I fear a country where people are given the constitutional right to own a firearm at the age of 12 but if you're caught smoking a harmless joint you'll go to jail.

          Or where a gang of white police offers can be caught red handed on video tape beating a black man with billy clubs but they're set free to go.

          Or where a forieng programmer can be thrown in jail for 5 months without a trial for writing a program that may cost a rich company a few dollars.

          That's not freedom and I won't pretend that it is. I refuse to be ignorant and complacent. In fact, what I fear even more than the country itself is it's ignorant and complacent citizens that let it be that way.

          --
          Garett
      • This is a common misconception that I hear on Slashdot all the time, and it simply isn't true. Yes, corporate execs do have a fiduciary responsibility to the company, but that does not in any way preclude ethical or moral behavior. I would be quite surprised if you could find a case where a corporate exec was successfully sued for not exploiting people in order to increase profits. Corporations are run by people, and those people are either moral or immoral, ethical or unethical. Laws exist to protect against the immoral and unethical, but there is nothing about the structure of a company that will make a moral, ethical person do immoral and unethical things.

        You are absolutely correct that all of the downright evil acts by corporations that you sited do really occur. They occur, though, because the people in charge of those corporations have low ethical standards. Not every airplane manufacturer, though, manufactures and sells weapons to the third world. Not every insurance company seeks to eliminate personal privacy. Not every clothing manufacturer employs kids in deplorable conditions. Not every oil corporation supports corrupt regimes.

        I'm not sure exactly what you are calling for when you say that corporations should be regulated, so I won't directly accuse you of any particular beliefs. However, I will say (based on what is commonly meant when regulation is refered to) that I don't think regulation per se is the answer. The answer is instead (as I see it) to criminalize unethical behavior and punish those responsible.
  • Ok, so they forget that the free exchange of ideas is what made them the successes they are today and for a few yuan will sell citizens of another country down the river, an effort that would have put some executives on the firing line in the cold war. Seems Clinton's, and now Bush's, administrations have selective sets of morals in this regard. We want to do business with them, but we won't do more than give lip service for their rights, and let 'em into the WTO.

    Well, eventually Yertle the Turtle will fall in Beijing and some people will remember who helped keep him there. As it is, the chinese are working hard to displace the U.S. as #1 in many fields and they'll probably suceed in a few, just out of shear determination. Maybe it's the fear of that which makes the U.S. foreign policy the conumdrum that it is with regard to China.

    Any chinese slashdotters?

    • Please... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stickerboy (61554) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:47PM (#3029973) Homepage
      I am Chinese, and frankly, you don't make a lot of sense. To further extend your argument, when China becomes "free", Chinese citizens will blame the Russians for selling them tanks and warplanes that fill the arsenal of the People's army, blame the Chinese newspaper editors for writing articles that spread Communist Party ideology and blame the Chinese factory workers that manufactured the bullets that shot the democracy protesters at Tianenmen Square.

      I may have grown up in a foreign culture, but I can spot someone with an axe to grind when I see one. Your disgust at "Big Business" and "Big Government" has nothing to do with the rights or attitudes of the Chinese people, but rather with you wanting to blame the what's wrong with the world on those that you don't agree with.

      The Chinese nation will sort themselves out over a long time, and probably peacefully, too - that's the Chinese way, to take the long, nonconfrontational view. The best thing that Clinton and Bush have done, and what you seem so opposed to, is to allow US businesses to continue to invest in China, further stimulating the economy and slowly raising living standards for the Chinese people. With increased living standards, more power to the middle class and greater education, the people of China will ask for more freedom and representation incrementally, and the government of China will grant the inevitable.

      The average Chinese citizen does not want your revolution. They want orderly, nonviolent change. The US companies are just doing business, no more and no less, and that business helps along that change.
      • the long non-confrontational view??? Hello, remember Mao? Things are moving along in China, but as a country it is just as confrontational as other industrialized nation has been.
      • Or, to put it more succinctly, you believe in "constructive engagement". I don't have too many problems with the US handling things that way. However, it would be nice if we were more consistent about it. I'm referring to Cuba. Why can't we do constructive engagement there?

        As for Chinese doing things gradually, I think you are painting a rosy picture. China will have violence if they are not careful. The other day I was reading an article about them suppressing attempts by workers to organize a union in a formerly state owned plant. I turned to my father and said "You know, if the Chinese aren't careful, they're going to have a Communist revolution on their hands."

      • Re:Please... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gilroy (155262)
        Blockquoth the poster:

        The Chinese nation will sort themselves out over a long time, and probably peacefully, too - that's the Chinese way, to take the long, nonconfrontational view.

        Um, what about the extended civil war and the eventual Communist revolution? Were those "peaceful"? How about Tianamen Square? How about three thousand years of emperors and warlords?


        It doesn't help for us to view China as backward. It also doesn't help for us to view China as forward, as somehow mystically enlightened and benign. The fact of the matter is, the Chinese are human and have the same drives and desires as other humans. The Communists want to cling to power. The ordinary citizen probably wants a decent living and some peace. Some high muckety-mucks want wealth and power.


        The evidence of human history -- including Chinese history -- is exactly that the revolution, when it comes, will not come peacefully. Government that try to control thought end up tightening their grip so much that the entire system cracks under the pressure. What will most likely result is a sucession crisis (though perhaps not in this iteration) and chaos. Maybe, on the other side, the Chinese people will be free. Maybe not.

  • Chinese IP Space (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cluge (114877) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:22PM (#3029864) Homepage
    Almost 1/3 of the SPAM sourcees I've encountered recently have been chinese. My ids LOGS regular ping sweeps and other probes coming from chinese held IP addresses. Chinese alerts account for about 24% of the IDS alerts. Some of these sweeps even originate in chinese government offices (since blocked because I'm tired of HUGE ping packets in my network from the beaurearu of statistics)

    Considering the crap thats been spewing out of Chinese controlled IP space, I wouldn't be adverse to some reverse censorship. i.e. no chinsese IP's allowed in my network. The Chinese may not like what the NET has to offer their people, but they sure seem to dish out pretty silly stuff for the rest of us (My penis is much to big NOW, no more PLEASE).

    I wonder if there was an easy way to blackhole all of mainland China? I wonder if the Chinese would consider THAT censorship?

    I'm not saying that anyone should do this mind you, I'm just saying what goes around eventually comes around.

    • I doubt you would be able to get many people onboard for your "blackhole the chinese".

      Yeh, spam is annoying, and I take mesures to keep my address out of the hands of spiders. But getting a couple ping packets isn't going to make me keep my selection of fine pornographic links from chinese citizens. (if they arn't blocked already, I doubt the CCP really cares about a 1k impression/day site run from a dorm room :P)
  • Ironic.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by magnwa (18700)
    Isn't It Ironic that the only company that fought the Chinese Oppression for their sales was Microsoft? Maybe they aren't so evil after all? Netscape.. Cisco.. Linux.. all those things are helping the Government spy on users in China.

    Odd..

  • Capitalist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bolen (4896) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:27PM (#3029884)
    Wasn't it Joseph Stalin who said (paraphrasing here), "If you want to hang a capitalist, you can easily find another capitalist willing to sell you the rope."

    Thanks a lot, Cisco.
  • Picture.exe virus to grab your PGP keys?
    Pretty damn scary stuff if the Chinese goverment is releasing this stuff into the wild. (But really no different than the FBI's key logger)
  • China (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Renraku (518261) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:32PM (#3029905) Homepage
    I can see where the Chinese government is coming from here. They don't want anyone to get any bright ideas or fall for other countries' propaganda. Perfectly logical. However, the evil of the plan comes out when you see that the Chinese are terribly oppressed, and that the censorship cloud covers everything that the government doesn't like. Which would be a lot of things. Maybe the U.S. is trying to see if it works well, so they could possibly instate a similar system in the future...
  • Is the PRC trying to block out ALL offensive traffic, or MOST offensive traffic? What about the use of techniques like steganography to encrypt data into seemingly "harmless" pictures, mp3's, etc.?

    If I were a government, I'd never want to try to get into this sort of "information freedom" cold war. It's companies like Cisco, Yahoo and the Chinese government vs. 1,273,111,290 Chinese people, some of whom have had the benefit of an American graduate education in computer science and mathematics. I'd say the odds are slanted toward the people...

  • Triangle Boy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crush (19364)
    The researcher that is cited as developing the anonymizer Triangle Boy in this article is working for the company SafeWeb [safeweb.com] which is supposed to be:
    1. A CIA front
    2. A company that produces software [wired.com] that they won't bug fix and yet is supposed to ensure anonymity.
    Tchah! The only thing governments and their spook-agencies are good at doing is fscking things up.
  • The US could, by legislation, prohibit U.S. companies from assisting with censorship in selected countries. There's an analogy to the Arab boycott of Israel [us-israel.org], which led to lobbying by Israel for U.S. laws prohibiting American companies from cooperating with the Arab boycott.

    There's an opportunity for a left-right coalition in the U.S. on this. The Right doesn't like China because they're Commies, and the Left doesn't like censorship.

    • The US could, by legislation, prohibit U.S. companies from assisting with censorship in selected countries. There's an analogy to the Arab boycott of Israel [us-israel.org], which led to lobbying by Israel for U.S. laws prohibiting American companies from cooperating with the Arab boycott.

      You are absolutely right. Legislation should quickly pass the law to cease the operation of immoral [mcafee.com] companies [symantec.com] whom allow keylogging [att.net] software from spying citizens' activities. Also, American companies should also join the boycott of the oppressive Government who creates a big database [fbi.gov] monitoring citizens' emails.

      Oh wait.
  • Its not so bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcdirmid (222110) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:42PM (#3029955) Homepage
    I can view almost all internet sites from China. I'm posting this from Beijing right now from a major Chinese University. I can access most websites except for a few free content sites (geocities) and some news sites (cnn.com). Its strange, they block CNN but not New York Times, which, IMHO, is more critical of the Chinese government. Notice that Slashdot isn't blocked and its critical of almost everyone! So there filtering is not very consistent. They could get rid of the firewall tommorow and I think it would hardly change things.

    I don't know about Chinese sites, I can only care about sites in English. As for spam, surely this is just b/c the networks in China are just not that well managed yet (e.g., like @Home networks once were...).

    As for Cisco and Yahoo, they are doing business in China, and they are following Chinese laws. So what is the problem? Idealism and making money are mostly incompatible.
  • According to the Chinese engineer, Cisco came through, developing a router device, integrator, and firewall box specially designed for the government's telecom monopoly. At approximately $20,000 a box, China Telecom "bought many thousands" and IBM arranged for the "high-end" financing. Michael confirms: "Cisco made a killing. They are everywhere."

    Humm, guess its time to Boycott Cisco and IBM.

    David Zhou, a systems engineer manager at Cisco, Beijing, told me flat out, "We don't care about the [Chinese government's] rules. It's none of Cisco's business." I replied that he has a point: It's not the gun but the way it's used...

    But this is like selling guns to criminals, wheres the background check?
    -
    People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. - Soren Kierkegaard
  • Not by charging people to see it, but by charging the Chinese government so thay can't see it.

    Pure genius!
  • This is scary. Given the propensity of the "law enforcement" community in the US to jump on any excuse to deny human rights while looking for ways to invade privacy, it strikes me that there is very little in place right now to prevent the US government from doing this right now. I'm not normally so paranoid, but it is obvious that near-total central control of the internet is now technically possible (thanks a whole fucking lot, Cisco). The thing to ask is, how do we stop this cancer before it spreads?
  • Carnivore [fbi.gov] and Magic Lantern [yahoo.com], Great Firewall of China is just a child-play. Btw, they will eventually catch-up with this(especially in this area).
  • by tomshanghai (305217) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:48PM (#3029978)
    First of all, yes, I can luckily read Slashdot from my office & home here in Beijing. I've been living in different cities in China for two-and-a-half years now & I've seen many (kinds of) blocks come and go.

    Sure, CNN.com is blocked & so is BBC.co.uk. No, NYT.com & BBCWORLD.com aren't blocked. So yes, I also don't understand the logic behind the specific blocks themselves. What I do understand, however, is that the blocks unfortunately are not the real issue.

    The real issue is that the majority of people (in this case, internet users) themselves are not interested to actually access this information. If you have a peek into one of the many internet cafes around, the majority of users are merely playing games.

    If they are on the internet, they are always either on Chinese news sites or chatting with each other. If I talk to my colleagues in the office, and ask them why they're not interested in information from a different perspective, they tell me that they simply don't care too much about international opinions. If they do visit international sites they'd rather visit other kinds of sites, mostly of expensive brands like BMW, Gucci & Rolf Benz, just to check out the latest styles. They are also interested in international universities, how to get their MBA & required visas.

    Please remember that this applies to the *majority* of users in China. Obviously there is a group of users that is interested in the information, but I believe people on Slashdot are realistic enough to know that if you want to access the information, there is *always* a way.

    For those of you in China who want to access CNN, simply go to http://robots.cnn.com

    • good point (Score:5, Interesting)

      by poemofatic (322501) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @12:34AM (#3030187)
      Most modern states employ a much more effective filter than anything Cisco could come up with:

      People don't want to criticize their own govt's, or take responsibility for what their leaders do.

      In fact, the "Great Firewall" China is using is a sign of the leadership's political naivete.

      A system in which dissenting views are allowed (limited) exposure -- only to be swamped out by flag-waving and soundbytes -- gives people the illusion that they are living in an open society and participating in an open debate. But as long as vast swathes of history and unpopular facts are not widely known, critics will seem as though they are coming from left field and will be generally ignored, if not hated. Ironically, this small amount of openness serves to "immunize" the populace from taking opposing views seriously.

      Ralph Reed said [washingtonpost.com] it best:

      "In public policy, it matters less who has the best arguments and more who gets heard -- and by whom."

      IMNSHO, if the Chinese leadership does a good enough job in K-12 education of instilling patriotism and belief in the fundamental justness of the regime, as well as making sure that the govt. view dominates most "respectable" news outlets and debate forums, then those rare voices arguing for, say, a withdrawal from Tibet will seem like traitorous whackos. Further, pride from allowing dissenting voices to be heard will even further reinforce the fundamental belief that they are the "good guys" in every conflict.

  • It is exactly as I said, years ago, about the development of censorware [sethf.com]. If a control system works for American children, then it will work for peasants in China. Inversely, if a control system DOES NOT work for peasants in China, then it will not work for children in America.

    You can't have it both ways. Pick one.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • by thelizman (304517)
    I have at least 10 Chinese people on my LICQ contact list. I've already turned 5 of them. So what if Beijing contracted Cisco to make a giant firewall. If the only way they could allow access was to put restrictions in place, they still screwed up by allowing access. You can't censor the whole internet, and freedom is contagious. Get this folks: Cisco enabled information acces to 1 billion otherwise oppressed and ignorant people who would have no informational resource outside of what Beijing prints on posters and pastes on walls.
  • by autopr0n (534291) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:50PM (#3029989) Homepage Journal
    If anyone out there thinks that the Chinese couldn't have done this on their own, that only Americans can build routers... Well, the seriously need to reevaluate their assumptions.

    China could have done this without outside help, China should have free speech. They don't. Not building firewalls for them isn't going to open their society.

    Since Mao died, the living standards of the average Chinese person has skyrocketed. Deng Xiao Peng created a lot of reforms, economically (saying "It's not bad, to be rich"), and even in terms of free speech and political expression. After Tiananmen they clamped back down. I don't really know if you can blame them either, if you just lived through the cultural revolution, you would probably be very afraid as well. Mid-century China was a veritable case study in how 'harmless' politics and mass youth movements can cause huge problems.

    Maybe Tiananmen was do soon, and the students really blew it. They should have stuck with Op-Ed pages, and built support that way, protesting only set them back, a lot. China today doesn't allow anywhere near the political expression that existed in the 1980s.

    But that said, people who's lives are getting better and better every year are not going to really want to revolt.

    And keep in mind that democracy and freedom of speech is an exception in all of human history. Maybe someday, but don't think it will happen anytime soon. Happy citizens don't revolt.
    • Wrong. Happy citizens do revolt. Poor peasants who are worried about their next meal tend not to agitate against the state; wealthy middle class citizens tend to have the time to worry about the bigger picture.
  • It really angers me to see US companies aiding and abetting the suppression of human rights. Its always happened, IBM helped the Nazi's catalog the Jews. But this is the 21st century. Freedom should be a top priority along with peace. Capitalism has its place, but when its used to destroy the the freedom of others, its just plain sick.

    Is the money that important to these people?
  • Those "Western Companies" should be ashamed of themselves. When they get oppressed by any government anywhere, I hope that no one helps them.

    Land of the Free. Home of the Almightly Dollar. Freedom for them is convenient, but they don't really care about it.
  • Cisco: an example of why corporations should not have the rights of humans.

    They have no morals.

    Seriously, they sealed a billion people behind a wall. This is... is... sick. There should be no payment sufficient to build such a filthy thing. It's like building the Berlin wall in the '40's, or creating well-designed torture chambers for some hellish country's prison. What greed!!

    It's enough to make ya turn communist, I swear.
    • "It's enough to make ya turn communist, I swear."

      I sure hope you were joking. The Communists are just as responsible for this - after all, isn't it China's quasi-communist government that's paying Cisco to do this?

      It's enough to make you turn Libertarian, sure. But becoming a Red is no better than being a die-hard capitalist.
    • It's enough to make ya turn communist, I swear.

      Oh, the irony...
  • by Alien54 (180860) on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:54PM (#3030008) Journal
    We would like to thank all of the little people who made this all possible.

    Seriously, this is reaching a point where the corporate profit motive is starting to get in the way of pesky things like morals and human rights, etc.

    I remember some Canadian professor going into this in great detail. Basically, the lack on morality in the pure profit motive is going to screw with the log term prospects of the planet

  • by sielwolf (246764) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @12:16AM (#3030111) Homepage Journal
    And I'll probably get modded down -1 flamebait. But anyway: what is the problem with this? In the democratic world at large we have many standard freedoms including chosing who we do business with.

    I cringe when I read these posts that say "how the hell can they do this?" and "this is just another example of big business...".

    Frankly that is the result of allowing all people to act as they wish. This is not a thought socialist state: you cannot command someone to act a certain way with their freedoms. Cisco and Yahoo seem to think there is nothing wrong with the People's govt of China.

    And what is wrong with this? I saw someone comparing these companies to BMW et al during the Nazi years in Germany. Um, as far as I know Cisco isn't using "subhumans" as slavelabor here.

    Personally there are many things about the Chinese government that I don't like and I'm kind of sad that these companies helped them out. But with or without their help the same paranoia state regime will still be in charge.

    Heck probably the "revolution" that everyone asks for will happen without any one of us knowing. The Chinese middle class will expand, they will wish for a) more leisure and b) more freedom to spend their money. And the government will comply to them because they are the sweet tax center. Hell, that's how all of the US Terrorism law got passed.
  • This is not new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by truesaer (135079) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @12:17AM (#3030116) Homepage
    Companies can always be trusted to do these kinds of things as long as it means profit. I think in the future at some point they will really be embarassed and regret it.


    I've been meaning to read IBM and the Holocaust [amazon.com]. It basically talks about how IBM's punch card machines that they created customly for hitler were "indispensable in rounding up prisoners, keeping the trains fully packed and on time, tallying the deaths, and organizing the entire war effort."


    I should say that although all of this is sad, I don't think there is any malicious intent on any of the companies. Its almost as though the whole takes actions that none of the individuals would.

  • Always ways around (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Conspire (102879)
    I have lived in China for 6 months now. If you want to get the news, there is always ways around the "great firewall". The easiest is looking at cached Google pages. Then comes Safeweb and the like. And my personal favorite, SSH'ing into a US server and browsing news with lynx.

    What amazes me, is that the censorship is very content selective and seems to ease over time. For example, in the October releaase of Harpers Index [harpers.org] there is one statement about China. The article was blocked the instant it was published, and for the full month Harpers was blocked in China. When the November index came out, one could access the October index and Harpers!

    During the APEC meetings here late last year, when all President Bush and other big wigs were in town, CNN, BBC, and other news sites all became miraculasly available! Of course, they were all immediately blocked after APEC had ended.

    Will /. get blocked while running this subject?

  • What ???? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Lord Sauron (551055)
    Is The Great Wall of China on fire ?
  • I don't know if I've missed it, but how could noone have yet made a "Great Fire Wall of China" pun?

    Come on people! Pick up your game!

    But for what it's worth it:

    In the long run this wall's probably gonna prove as useful at keeping things (ie. information) out as the last one was.

    I did my best.

    :)
  • by clunis (62681) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @01:05AM (#3030297) Homepage
    I am one of the webmasters for the University of Michigan and my servers have been blocked from China for over a year. First they blocked just the IP addresses of our main servers (http://www.umich.edu/ & http://www-personal.umich.edu/) but when we moved our hosts to other IPs they blocked at least the entire subnet we use for public web servers. We get frantic e-mail from Chinese students all the time looking for access to our site so they can come here to study.

    I hope triangle boy will help with this, but does anyone know of anything more proactive *I* could be doing?
  • by markj02 (544487) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @01:34AM (#3030388)
    Well, of course, in a certain sense it it: you can talk about a lot more in the US than in China. In the US, you insult politicians, criticize the government, tell people how to cheat on their taxes, and make fun of anybody and everybody. All that is good.

    But the US happens to have its own obsessions of what is permissible. US obsessions are about disparaging foods, certain kinds of pornography, cryptography, and anything that might step on the toes of big media companies. And in the US, the means of enforcing those restrictions are oddball restrictions on any kind of hardware that plays audio and video, throwing people in jail, sending FBI agents to foreign countries to "help" them, trade sanctions, and prohibiting certain goods from being imported.

    Yes, China has different obsessions (although there seems to be some overlap with US obsessions). But both governments are throwing their considerable weight around to prohibit access from the kind of content they consider harmful. When the US abandons restrictions like the DMCA, software patents, baroque rules on pornography, and the various export restrictions on cryptography, the US position on criticizing China would get a lot stronger. Until then, one can only conclude that both countries have haphazard and serious restrictions on speech.

  • by Jarnis (266190) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @05:12AM (#3030778)
    GUYS! Think for a moment!

    Cisco and Yahoo etc. are doing a good thing here!

    If every related company would tell the chinese govt. "No, we will not do such blocking system. It's impossible/immoral/bad/[insert your favourite reason here].", what do you think chinese govt. would do? It would decide that they cannot control the internet, so they won't allow any internet traffic in/out of the country. They are control freaks, so they need to have the warm and fuzzy feeling of 'controlling' the net.

    Cisco & friends are providing them (at an immense cost, mind ya) a 'filtering system' that gives them that warm & fuzzy feeling that they are 'controlling' their citizen's internet access. It's an illusion at best, but they seem to want it, and are willing to pay for it. You know - the saying about fool and their money... :)

    We all know that there are ways around such blocks. This is nothing but your average broken censorware application with goverment approved blocklist, built into bunch of high end routers. Having somewhat crippled internet connection to the world is by far a better option than no internet at all. You can always work around the blocks, and get what you need, if you really want it.

    Longer those chinese leaders are happily smiling in their ivory towers and thinking 'the citizens have their internet, but only those parts we want - we are in control', the better.

  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @05:48AM (#3030856) Journal
    What the thugs in charge in China don't realize is that it's internal communication that's going to enable the Chinese people to throw off their yoke.

    Back when Deng and his fellow gerontocrats murdered the protestors in Tienanmen square, they had to bring in soldiers from rural areas, who had no idea what was going on in Peking. The local garrison wouldn't have done it.

    Ceacescu was overthrown when the lies broke down, and the Romanian army could see for themselves that the people on the other side of the barricades were their friends, families and neighbors. (Not a handful of evil counter-revolutionaries as state propaganda insisted.)

    When the thug-in-charge ordered them to open fire on the protestors in Bucharest, the army decided that that wasn't what they'd signed up for, and opted instead to kill the bloodthirsty motherfucker.

    When the Chinese are able to communicate widely and nearly instantaneously amongst themselves, it's going to be all over for the Party. I missed the demolition of the Berlin wall, but I sure hope to be in China when they start pulling down the statues of Mao.

    -jcr
  • Support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LunaKrist (258369) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @07:27AM (#3031052)
    Let me start out by saying that I am about as capitalist as a human being can be. I love capitalism and think it's a great idea. I hold alot of respect for big business. I have a huge amount of respect for Bill Gates. I think anyone who can make $40B selling crap deserves a pat on the back. But I still use linux. Because I don't want to help him sell crap. And I won't help cisco build jails either. I'll vote with my dollars.
    And as for the chinese people who posted to say "it's not so bad", it would be alot worse if you had any un-popular thoughts. The government of any country is formed by the people of said country. And all those peoples are responsible for the actions of the government. I don't know, I've never studied Chinese politics (I've got enough problems with my government), but when I read that, I've got to wonder "how many people were killed or imprisoned because they held un-popular beliefs? IIRC, I've read about at least one incident of a Chinese person being imprisoned for disagreeing with the governemt. One is far too many. But you don't care. You think it's "not that bad"?! That's a real person. Going through REAL SUFFERING! Sitting in a real jail, with bars and shitty food and not enough warmth. Dealing with real boredom and real loneliness. And you sit in your nice office with a hot cup of coffee saying "it's not that bad"!? It is that bad. I believe that compassion and empathy are a part of humanity. For you to sit there and not even care degrades us all. You can be apathetic, that's your opinion, here's mine: Not giving a damn about anothers suffering, and in fact helping it along, makes you scum. You are the lowest of the low. I hope you choose to disagree one day and rot in a cell for it.
    Well, you might not care, but I damn well do.So I will now refrain from using cisco products, because I will not help them limit freedom. If I thought that I had in helped them find one more dissident to put in jail, I wouldn't be able to live with myself. If I bought a cisco catalyst, I would have problems sleeping. I'd be kept awake thinking "they spent my money to build a jail". They are capitalists, and I expect them to act in the interest of profit, But anyone who expects me not to act in the interest of freedom is insane. To that end, I will try and make their interest in profit and my interest in freedom coincide. By never using their products (and I was gonna be a CCNA).
    We live in a capitalist society, and in a capitalist society money controls everything. That's good, because money doesn't discriminate, and if we want to make a change, all we have to do is with-hold our money. Fuck Cisco. Fuck their products. Let _them_ do it. I won't help. I'll boycott cisco. Will my change help anything? Maybe not, but it's a start. And 20 years from now, when we're all presenting our national ID's for minimal access to _our_ national cisco firewall, I'll look back and think " I tried". You can look back and think "I helped them do it."

    "The system doesn't care because the system is you. Nothing ever changes because that's what _you_ choose." -- A//Political
  • by Hylander (82626) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @08:55AM (#3031221)
    Because the West relies on a democractic government and a capitalist market they are often seen as indivisible.

    In reality they are very much seperate. Capitalism is a system in which the purpose of business is wealth creation. Businesses make decisions necessary to make cash for their owners, and we hope that a side-effect of this is innovation, employment and general welfare.

    Democracy, on the other hand, is a system for managing society and government. At it's heart, democracy is the principle that all the people of a state should have a meaningful contribution to how it is governed. No more and no less.

    It is quite possible to have a non-capitalist democracy and a capitalist dictatorship.

    You cannot expect western businesses to defend democracy, when it is completely outside their purview. Very few of Cisco's customers are democracies, the vast majority are other corporations - about as undemocractic as you can get.

    They have no reason to care, and that is how it should be. If you want China to become a democracy, then go tell the Chinese. Ultimately, it is up to them.

Make headway at work. Continue to let things deteriorate at home.

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