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Censorship

Congressman Quizzes Net Companies on Shame 459

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the ethical-dilemmas dept.
mjdroner writes "Cnet has a transcript of the House of Representatives hearing on net censorship with Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and Yahoo reps. At one point, Rep. Tom Lantos asks if Microsoft is ashamed of their actions in China. Microsoft: 'We comply with legally binding orders whether it's here in the U.S. or China.' Lantos: 'Well, IBM complied with legal orders when they cooperated with Nazi Germany. Those were legal orders under the Nazi German system.'"
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Congressman Quizzes Net Companies on Shame

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  • Shit (Score:3, Funny)

    by republican gourd (879711) on Friday February 17, 2006 @08:57AM (#14741258)
    Congress envoked Godwin's Law. Now this whole thing is going to peter out and the companies are going to come out blameless.
    • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dc29A (636871) on Friday February 17, 2006 @08:59AM (#14741266)
      We comply with legally binding orders whether it's here in the U.S. or China.

      Ironic how MS is doing everything not to have to comply with the EU's antitrust rulings.
      • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by meringuoid (568297) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:10AM (#14741308)
        Ironic how MS is doing everything not to have to comply with the EU's antitrust rulings.

        Look, it's quite simple.

        Complying with China's demands may: cost some pro-democracy activists their lives

        Complying with the EU's demands may: cost some Microsoft shareholders some of their money

        You aren't suggesting that Microsoft should deliberately make less money than the maximum theoretically possible, are you? That's Communism! That goes against all the principles of liberty, justice and shameless gouging that America was founded on!

        • Re:Shit (Score:3, Funny)

          by Opportunist (166417)
          Not to mention that if it's Communism, it's pro-China!
        • Re:Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You aren't suggesting that Microsoft should deliberately make less money than the maximum theoretically possible, are you?

          US-American law requires that a publically traded company maximize their revenue. The executive-staff could be prosecuted for deliberately ignoring the Chinese market.

          • Re:Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

            by The Snowman (116231) *

            US-American law requires that a publically traded company maximize their revenue. The executive-staff could be prosecuted for deliberately ignoring the Chinese market.

            Care to back this up with a quote from the U.S. Code? I know they have a responsibility to their shareholders as spelled out in pretty much any corporate charter, but civil or criminal liability? I seriously doubt it unless it was a case of willful negligence or stock abuse (e.g. Enron). Just failing to meet an opportunity to make more mone

        • Re:Shit (Score:2, Funny)

          That goes against all the principles of liberty, justice and shameless gouging that America was founded on!
          Good points, but I think "tax-evasion" was an even more fundamental principle.
        • Re:Shit (Score:3, Funny)

          by Kadin2048 (468275)
          Complying with China's demands may: cost some pro-democracy activists their lives
          Complying with the EU's demands may: cost some Microsoft shareholders some of their money


          And the sad part is, some people are going to think that's just you being funny or ironic, but that's exactly how it works.

          It's always easier to apologize later, once the bodies are buried and your pockets are full, than to do anything ahead of time and take heat from your shareholders for it.

          But I have only a limited amount of blame for t
          • I agree... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by gfxguy (98788) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:53AM (#14741559)
            And if the Chinese government is so bad, why does our government even negotiate with them? Maybe these companies are within their legal bounds merely because our government has hypocritically refused to boycott another communist regime. I guess we only boycott them when they'r poor, anyway (like Cuba).

            And before anyone gets on my case, this is apolitical - both parties have kowtowed to the Chinese in the interests of American businesses. It's a bit hypocritical to start getting mad at them now when our government led the way.
            • by Latent Heat (558884) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:00AM (#14742057)
              Agreed. In response to the challenge "would you have cooperated with Nazi Germany" I would have been attempted to respond "no, not when we were at war, but remember we are not at war with China, although we ended up at war with Nazi Germany as a consequence of an economic embargo we imposed on Japan in response to human rights violations in China."

              On the other hand, Lantos has standing to invoke Nazi Germany on account of his personal and family history.

    • Re:Shit (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:24AM (#14741388)
      I have a bit less issue with someone "invoking" Godwin's Law who actually lived [wikipedia.org] through the period in question.

      /CF

    • From Wikipedia: -

      "In general, Godwin's Law does not apply in situations wherein one could reasonably expect Hitler or Nazis to be mentioned, such as a discussion of Germany in World War II."

      In this situation there is a direct comparison of companies doing buisness based on local laws that caused great Evil(TM). I think the comparison is direct enough to say Godwin's Law does not apply.
    • by Ed Avis (5917)
      I don't think Godwin's Law applies to Holocaust survivors. That's just the way these things work.
  • I guess he never heard of Godwin's Law [catb.org].
    • Or Reductio ad Hitlerum [wikipedia.org]

      "Hitler ate sugar."
      • I do not see how that applies here. Did the congressman give specific examples? I think it is safe to say that Hitler had policies we now consider evil. At least one. It therefore is perfectly okay to use him as a reference for "legitimate governments that have laws that Americans consider evil." Reductio ad Absurdum/Hitlerum does not suggest that using that generalization is a fallacy, only that getting specific and saying "because Hitler promoted autobahns, autobahns are therefore evil." is absurd.
  • uh-oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    <strongbad-voice>GODWIN'D!</strongbad-voice>
  • Anne Frank (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:01AM (#14741273) Journal
    One interesting section I saw was when Yahoo was being quizzed about handing over information to the Chinese Government about a Blogger. They were asked if they would have done the same if the Nazi's asked them the location of Anne frank. Its good that people are drawing paralels on these areas, they are very similar but I think it helps people to think about it more deaply than they might have done. The Nazi state is something people understand and have seen a lot about, China is similar but a lot of what you get taught about it in school is about Mao and later leaders, all told in a possitive way, and less about areesting people who want democracy
    • Re:Anne Frank (Score:2, Informative)

      by jcr (53032)
      The Nazi state is something people understand and have seen a lot about, China is similar but a lot of what you get taught about it in school is about Mao and later leaders, all told in a possitive way, and less about areesting people who want democracy

      Well, the Nazi Regime and the Red Dynasty are highly similar, with the major difference being that the Red Dynasty has killed many more people. Also, rather than singling out one particular ethnic minority to anihilate, they've killed mostly their own (Han) p
      • Re:Anne Frank (Score:2, Interesting)

        by enjahova (812395)
        The Nazi Regime and the "Red Dynasty" are totally different. Do you know how many changes have happened in China in the last 100 years? Do you know how many civil wars cost millions of lives? The Cultural revolution and the resulting death toll is NOT part of the same government that rules today. Have you heard of the capitalism going on in many parts of the country? How could that possibly be the same as the extreme communist rule of Chairman Mao? This oversimplifying of history gets in the way of pragmati
      • If you are talking about the cultural revolution you have to take into account that it pretty much spun out of control. It is more comparable to say african style anarchy than Stalin. And of course there is the matter of opportunity (Mao and buddies had more people to kill and more time to do it), of course this point of view probably makes Pol Pot (no enemy of the chinese) worse than anybody else.
    • Re:Anne Frank (Score:5, Interesting)

      by meringuoid (568297) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:15AM (#14741329)
      They were asked if they would have done the same if the Nazi's asked them the location of Anne frank.

      Of course they would have, if there was a profit in it. What Anne Frank was doing was illegal (Reich Criminal Code section 1775B: Breathing while Jewish), and if Yahoo wanted to do business in Germany at the time then they would certainly have had to comply with the demands of the lawfully appointed Gestapo. Not to do so would require them to forego the potential revenues to be had in Germany, which would clearly mean a failure to maximise shareholder value.

      They're corporations. They're pure Lawful Evil by definition.

      • Re:Anne Frank (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928)
        <geek>
        I'd say that Lawful Evil is an overstatement. If being good will bring them profits, they'll be good. They don't give a damn one way or the other. The same with obedience to laws. True Neutral all the way baby.
        </geek>
      • Re:Anne Frank (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AviLazar (741826) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:22AM (#14741758) Journal
        They're corporations. They're pure Lawful Evil by definition.

        Actaully, by your explanation they are Lawful Neutral. They are complying with the laws no matter if the laws are good or bad. :D
    • a lot of what you get taught about it in school is about Mao and later leaders, all told in a possitive way

      What schools teach you about Mao in "a positive way"?

      China's "Great Leap Forward" [orbit6.com] around 1960. The typical estimate given for the number of people who died is generally placed around 30 million people.

      • Your own link lumps the Great Leap Forward in with "significant events that are not often mention in the history books." If it's not even in many books, I doubt many history teachers are going to go out of their way to teach it. I never learned about this in school. I had to read up on it on my own.
        • If it's not even in many books, I doubt many history teachers are going to go out of their way to teach it. I never learned about this in school. I had to read up on it on my own.

          Well, it's been pretty well-known for at least 20 years. If the subject of Mao came up in a history class I'd hope the teacher might have a clue. Or was he waving a Little Red Book and exhorting you to learn from Lei Feng?

    • Re:Anne Frank (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Snowman (116231) * on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:30AM (#14741422) Homepage

      One interesting section I saw was when Yahoo was being quizzed about handing over information to the Chinese Government about a Blogger. They were asked if they would have done the same if the Nazi's asked them the location of Anne frank.

      I would ask if they would do the same if the FBI came knocking on their door asking for customer information without a warrant, but waving the ill-named USA PATRIOT Act around. "Terrorism!" "Security reasons!" "Other buzzword that makes it sound like you aren't a true red-blooded American if you don't comply!" This whole thing really pisses me off. Congress is more than willing to tear down trade barriers with China, allow some corporations to run sweat shops over there, while criticising the tech companies for doing something similar. Sure, there aren't sweat shops, but paying some poor guy 12 cents an hour in dangerous conditions is surely at least as bad, from a freedom and democracy standpoint, as providing a censored web search to their population.

      I guess some "most favored nations" are more favored than others. Since Britain and China are both MFN, why should we treat them differently? If China needs to be treated differently, why don't they lose their MFN status?

      • Re:Anne Frank (Score:3, Interesting)

        "Terrorism!" "Security reasons!" "Other buzzword that makes it sound like you aren't a true red-blooded American if you don't comply!"

        "Terrorism!" is the modern buzzword, but....

        "Pinkoes!" - 1950s

        "A Jap's a Jap!" - 1940s

        "Over there!" - 1920s

        "Rebels!" - 1860s

        "Laissez-faire!" - mid-1800s

        "Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!" - 1790s

        "For the Holy Land!" - 1200s

        "Chivalry!" - 1000s

        "Carthago delenda est!" - 100s BC

        "The Mandate of Heaven!" - 900s BC

        It isn't just the current administration of the United States. We've been
    • Re:Anne Frank (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jacksdl (552055)
      I had a slight lull in my righteous outrage when I heard some of the Yahoo guy's testimony on NPR. He pointed out that by taking the moral high ground he would really be taking no risk himself -- he would be telling a Yahoo employee who is a Chinese citizen to defy his/her government. A contrast to when Pres Bush v1.0 encouraged the Kurds to fight Hussein during the 1st Gulf War -- then did nothing when Kurds who followed his advice were slaughtered.

      My company is trying to succeed in China. I wonder wh
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:02AM (#14741275)
    Simply because it has no conscience. There's always someone "higher up" demanding that you do what you have to do. You have no choice but to do what you do. Do it or be fired. And on top, you have the shareholders who want their shares to rise. So you have to do what you have to do, or they get angry and replace you. And the shareholders don't have anything to do with the way a company is lead. They don't know what's going on.

    Comforting, isn't it? And so convenient too. Nobody's to blame. In fact, if it wasn't illegal, you could run a corporation dealing in murder. Nobody would have a problem pulling the trigger. 'cause hey, he can't do anything else anyway, it's the system.

    And since I don't want to invoke Godwin's Law, I'll end here.
    • If shareholders and investors want to invest their money in various unethical and nefarious schemes, they deserve to lose every last penny of their investment. We all need to start paying more attention to the people brokering our money.

      Say you have Joe, an investor with a 401k. He works at a factory that makes watches. He gets his prospectus this year, and notices the message fom his broker of an anticipated increse in profits due to a rise in share price in some of their sector companies. Next month, Joe
      • by Jetson (176002)
        If shareholders and investors want to invest their money in various unethical and nefarious schemes, they deserve to lose every last penny of their investment. We all need to start paying more attention to the people brokering our money.

        The people brokering our investments are just doing what we tell them. If you don't want to invest in Google then you always have the option of putting your money elsewhere. If you're a mutual fund investor then it's your responsibility to read through the prospectus and

    • I think you pretty much described the situation.

      Invidivuals have morals, conscience, and shame, but unless a corporation is firmly controlled by a particular individual or very select group of individuals (as is the case with some privately held companies) who cannot be easily displaced, the organization itself will act amorally.

      One of the main reasons for this is because, given that the ultimate driving motive is profit, there is a mechanism at practically every level, from the factory floor to the executi
  • Seriously, Lantos has some nerve. He's a memner of the same congress that both approved Guantanamo Bay and moved to supress images from Abu Ghraib. Censoring information to people in other countries is one thing. Censoring information from your own counrtymen is another.

    Perhaps Lantos should look closer to home for people to berate. Asking the sociopaths that run multinational corperations whether they are "ashamed" is ridiculous to begin with. These people are physically incapable of that emotion. Joe Cong
  • by ptbarnett (159784) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:06AM (#14741296)
    Google: We don't offer a service that puts anyone in that situation, and the best way we honor their situation is to ensure that we are not associated with a similar situation. We don't offer products that would put us in a position of putting people like that in danger.

    Does Google maintain the same history of keyword searches by IP and by "cookie" at google.cn? If so, what are they going to do when the Chinese government demands they provide that information?

    It's not hard to imagine a situation where that information would put a Chinese Google user in danger.

  • Is this a new record?
  • Heard it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BenjyD (316700) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:12AM (#14741321)
    I listened to some of this on the Today programme (Radio 4) in the UK and the Microsoft guy sounded *really* nervous when they bought up the IBM/Germany analogy. It sounded like the similarity really hadn't occurred to him before. Really cheered me up on a cold morning.
    • I listened to some of this on the Today programme (Radio 4) in the UK and the Microsoft guy sounded *really* nervous when they bought up the IBM/Germany analogy. It sounded like the similarity really hadn't occurred to him before.

      Nah, it had occurred to him. He would have been briefed by P.R. and legal teams before being allowed anywhere near an interview team. They will have explained to him all about IBM and Nazi Germany and how their consultants had helped put together the advanced filing systems to or

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:17AM (#14741338)
    So, Congress things that censorship of the Net is a bad thing.
    This is the SAME congress that mandates filtering of the Net in all libraries.
    So, basically, if other countries do it, it's evil, but if the USA does it, that's the right thing to do? Sounds a lot like Congress' policy on detaining and torturing prisoners.
    • There's still a huge difference between not allowing to see sites that have the word vagina on them and giving out the IPs of internet dissidents so the chinese can send them to their gulags.
    • Google took a hit because they stood up to demands from the US government for records of searches by Americans. IOW, they took a stand for individual privacy and against erosion of civil liberties.

      Now Google takes a hit because they didn't stand up against the Chinese government. IOW they didn't stand up against erosion of civil liberties.

      So tell me, as a company doing business world-wide, how can they win in this little political game, and how different are the two demands? (Bonus points if you don't i

    • This is the SAME congress that mandates filtering of the Net in all libraries.

      Library filters are not exactly similar to China's censorship and persecution of citizens. Libraries are required to have some type of filtering, yes, but they are not required to have it turned on at all times. Nearly all libraries will happily turn off filtering for an adult patron who asks. Librarians hate the filters more than just about anyone, just ask.

      Furthermore, libraries are required to have a sign in sheet for c

    • Our bad. We didn't realize until your "5, Insightful" post that dissenting opinions in Congress are Another Liberal Myth.
  • Confusing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FidelCatsro (861135) * <fidelcatsro AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:20AM (#14741355) Journal
    The issue as I see it is this:
    Either the company comply with Chinas laws or do not do business there.
    So what they are debating , is if they are going to ban the companies from a particular area of trade and services in china .
    Is that somehow anti-capitalist ? does it constitute an embargo ?
    • It isn't anit-capitalist (at least in my view of what that means).

      In a capitalist society a company should have no shame, they should do whatever they can to make profits regardless of the costs to anything, however it is the governments job to stop companies from doing things we see as "evil", and through a system of fines or other methods make it not rational to do because of the cost. Basically everyone should act in only their best interest, and it should be in the Government's interest to keep peop
  • by omegashenron (942375) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:22AM (#14741373)

    I honestly believe that this entire topic has been blown out of proportion - congress is not interested in promoting free speech, they just want to spread democracy to the rest of the world.

    Just remember how communists in the US were treated during the cold war - there goes the free speech argument. It can be said that the United States is the greatest example of democracy, however, it is also the greatest example of it's failure. In the US corporations run the country at least in China they are forced to tow the line.

    Having recently visited China, I can sincerely say it is not the police state that most people envision (actually the heightened security in the US is far more restrictive in my experience i.e bags being searched and going though metal detectors in some buildings most notably SF City Hall)

    Although many people do comment on China's education system which puts Mao on a pedistol, it is no different to what the US does with Kennedy - secondly in China's education system, the incident at Tienanmen Square is not taboo - my current girlfriend completed high school in China and was taught that the military was wrong but so too were the protesters (allegedly they set fires)

    I'm not trying to make excuses for the Chinese Government, I just think we should give them a fair go and accept their sovereignty like they do ours (has anyone heard Chinese criticising the US for their human rights record?).

    • by meringuoid (568297) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:28AM (#14741411)
      I honestly believe that this entire topic has been blown out of proportion - congress is not interested in promoting free speech, they just want to spread democracy to the rest of the world.

      They don't give a damn about democracy. They want to spread free market capitalism to the rest of the world.

      Remember, Congressmen do the bidding not of the voters but of the corporations that contributed to their campaign funds. These corporations don't care whether a country is a democracy or a dictatorship, as long as it lets them do more or less as they please and make an awful lot of money at it.

      Indeed, a free-market dictatorship might be even better than a democracy. In a dictatorship, you need only bribe the dictator and all regulations and obstacles to the greater profit melt away. In a democracy, you have do bribe a majority of the representatives, and that costs a lot more.

      • Are you sure it's "free market capitalism" that they want to spread?

        Or something that at some level resembles that enough that they could call it such, whilst actually being neither free (as most participants are realistically indentured slaves), a market (since only one or two companies control 100% of the sales), or capitalism (as the benefits would accrue to people with political capital... Oh well, I guess I'm wrong about that one...)...

    • by rjstanford (69735) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:37AM (#14741462) Homepage Journal
      I honestly believe that this entire topic has been blown out of proportion - congress is not interested in promoting free speech, they just want to spread democracy to the rest of the world.

      Well, as long as that involves being willing to de-recognize countries that elect the "wrong" people, like Hamas. After all, its not real democracy if you don't vote the way that we want you to. Or something.
      • Well, as long as that involves being willing to de-recognize countries that elect the "wrong" people, like Hamas. After all, its not real democracy if you don't vote the way that we want you to.

        "Because might makes right,
        And, till they've seen the light
        They've got to be protected,
        All their rights respected,
        Till somebody we like can be elected!"

        Tom Lehrer, Send the Marines!

  • by Shag (3737) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:26AM (#14741394) Homepage
    The challenge of trying to have both power/profit and ethics is hardly a new one - it's been around probably as long as there have been people.

    In the United States, where so many people are very committed to capitalism, it may rear its head more than in some other types of social or economic systems, but I see it everywhere I go.

    "What pays best" and "What is best" simply aren't always the same thing, after all.

    Personally, I've made choices on both sides of the divide, when there's been one. I got tired of picking things that paid well but made me feel dirty, after a while... but that's probably why I'm neither corporate nor congressional!
  • Mr Lantos,

    Do you have *any* equipment that says "Made in China" ?

    If you do, your questions should be asked in the mirror.
  • by lennart78 (515598) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:33AM (#14741436)
    Let me please provide the Congress with a few examples in which questions about ethical behaviour and/or shame might be appropriate:

    * HP, Tektronics e.a. have supplied Iraq with militairy usefull technology, resulting in the death of allied soldiers and lots of iraqi (and kurdish) people.
    * Companies like Enron and MCI/Worldcom have, by lying about revenues e.a., jeopardized jobs and savings of thousands of people who, in a climate of economical recession and outsourcing/offshoring, risk the destruction of their livelyhoods. I know, no direct fatalities, but not very nice now is it?
    * Companies like Shell continue to do business in countries like Nigeria, which are known to have a bad record regarding human rights.

    And don't get me started about the ethical aspects of some of the policies of the American Federal Government. (Guantanamo Bay, Weapons of Mass Destruction, dropping bombs on Civil targets).
    • I just watched a documentary on Ecuadorian ayahuasca shamanism. The interesting thing is how honestly connected these people are with their surroundings, and how much they love the planet.

      The crazy thing is that in my reckoning, the land belongs to the indians who have lived there for generations and generations. At some point, a government came in, declared ayahuasca illegal, and is allowing big oil companies to come in and destroy the land.

      The head of one village was knifed by military forces because he
  • I love it when I don't have to wait for some Anonymous Coward to evoke Godwin's Law... This article's gonna save a TON of Flame Time.
  • by MajorDick (735308) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:33AM (#14741440)
    And at the time IBM had divisions in Germany.

    If they wanted to do business there they had to comply.

    You never saw senate hearings THEN (Especially Postwar) About their actions

    China will change, it wont be a "grand" revolution, but it will change. In 50 years with the Decline of Freedom and Liberty here in the US I wouldnt be suprised in the LEAST if China were a MORE free society, (in 50 year I estimate) There are simply too many people, and the more that become educated with a market system such as china has , it will happen.
  • by DrPizza (558687) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:35AM (#14741445) Homepage
    If American companies should ignore local law when operating in China, does this mean that Dutch companies should now be encouraged to sell pot in the US?
    • An even closer analogy:

      The United States bans toplessness on broadcast TV, unlike, say, the UK.

      Should UK companies be allowed to violate these rules and slap bouncing breasts on US broadcast TV? This is an extremely similar case of censorship laws varying between countries.
  • Alright, you've convinced me that it's time for a boycott of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. Now, at the very least, I need a search engine. Anyone know of a good alternative search engine I can use until they get their act together?
  • Well, Microsoft won. By Goodwin's law.
  • It's been established for some time that capitalism is the best economic system (thus far) for providing growth and prosperity.

    It's also been established that without some sort of ethical laws governing a capitalistic system it will steamroll over anybody on it's way to the singular goal of profits.

    We have laws in the U.S. designed to limit the behavior of corporations (within the country) based on the ethical and moral will of the people as represented through government (mostly...don't start the hypocracy
  • by nagora (177841) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:47AM (#14741521)
    The point of Godwin's law is people who invoke the Nazis in a situation where such comparisons are out of proportion to the topic (such as best search engine).

    It is unreasonable to suggest when the topic is totalitarian regimes who routinely lock people up because of their beliefs and also routinely execute people and harvest them for organs, that comparisons to Nazis are either off-topic or a sign that the argument has been lost.

    TWW

  • by Angostura (703910) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:47AM (#14741522)
    I heard the snippet of inquisition on the radio and regardless of my feelings about Google et al's activities in China, I though the congressman's question deserved an answer which highlighted it's stupidity.

    Lantos asks:

    Well, IBM complied with legal orders when they cooperated with Nazi Germany. Those were legal orders under the Nazi German system...Do you think that IBM during that period had something to be ashamed of?

    The answers should have been:
    Are you saying that the current Chinese regime and the Nazi regime are equivalently evil? If you are then my answer to you is that not only IBM but the whole of the U.S.A had something to have been ashamed of during that period.

    The U.S.A had yet to enter the war despite evidence of what the Nazi's were up to. They had yet to implement full economic sanctions against the Nazis.

    If, congressman, you believe that the Nazis and the chinese are comparable, why hasn't the U.S declared full economic sanctions against China, and why hasn't it made illegal for any U.S company to do business with that country? Why have you yet to propose that we declare war against China?

    The truth is, because China is not equivalent to Nazi Germany, and your question is nonsensical.
  • Absurd. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao (908546)
    I find it absolutely absurd that anyone would claim the US is as bad, or worse even, than China as far as human rights is concerned. American citizens have a right, in fact a responsibility to always be aware and in fact question what the US government is doing. Blindly following the government, like so many in China do, is dangerous.

    It's ridiculous that people would compare the US to China. I feel like people here like to dream up these crazy threats from the government. When was the last time you or any o
    • Re:Absurd. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cederic (9623) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:12AM (#14741680) Journal

      >> demonstrating without a warrant

      Sorry, I need permission to express my displeasure about something?

      >> Those people jailed at Guantanamo Bay are also there for their ties to terrorism

      Bullshit. Utter tosh and nonsense. Please provide references. Please also explain how holding them there without trial, legal representation, the ability for individual private interviews with representatives from the UN, while interrogating them with abusive techniques is in any way justified even if they do have ties to terrorism.

      Just what is terrorism anyway? I do recall considerable amounts of US support for those very people in Afghanistan when they were fighting against the Russians that are currently being targeted by American "anti terrorist" operations now.

      Hypocrisy? Hell yes. I don't give a shit what the background of Lantos is, I don't care whether he votes against MFT status for China or not; the organisation he represents is very far from being the champion of freedom and democracy it would have to be for his questions to those companies to have any credence at all.

      Shame? I hope to hell he feels it.

    • Re:Absurd. (Score:3, Informative)

      by LarsWestergren (9033)
      I agree with you that China is much much worse than the US, and I applaud the senator for trying to make companies try to take responsibility for their actions. However, when it comes to personal freedoms, under the current US administration things have taken a sharp turn for the worse, that is why I feel I have to comment this statement:

      When was the last time the FBI showed up at someone's house simply for running a blog criticizing the US government?

      Appearently you can get an intimidating visit for having
  • by jocknerd (29758) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:18AM (#14741726)
    China's no threat. We've got thousands of businesses already over there. Why are they picking on technology companies? If Congress is so concerned about China and democracy, why do we allow trade with China, but not Cuba?

    Typical Washington hypocrites.
  • by kthejoker (931838) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:22AM (#14741760)
    In the late 1930s, Gerald Nye of North Dakota and Martin Dies of Texas were outright for the Nazi party practically right up until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were unabashedly anti-Semitic, pro-fascist, and anti-Roosevelt.

    People forget that the Nazi party was probably the most political party in the world during the 1930s. The American Bund (a group formed to promote Nazism in the states, and to encourage neutrality while Hitler invaded the rest of Europe) was not a fringe group - they had among their members Congressmen, Senators, judges, and governors.

    Even after World War II had begun in earnest for America in 1942, members of Congress gave classified information to Nazi agents, spoke out for the extermination of "the Jew" on the floor of Congress, and continued to spout anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi rhetoric in newsletters sent to their home district.

    Luckily for us, Congress is not beholden to respect the opinions of all of its members individually - it only has to respond to the majority opinion, which usually correlates with public opinion. This is also true of corporations - their "public" is just limited to those who own stock in it.
  • by code65536 (302481) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:28AM (#14742284) Homepage Journal
    This is political grandstanding. Aside from invoking Nazis, there was a part of the transcript excerpt that really bothered me.

    Lantos asked Yahoo! about whether it has contacted the family of the jailed reporter and what it felt about that. Okay, fine. Then he asked Microsoft about the blogger, to which Microsoft clarified that it only took down the site and never provided the government with private information. Well, that's fine too, I guess, if Lantos didn't know beforehand the specifics of this incident and exactly what was different this time between "turn in" and "take down". And then he asks Google the same question. And here, that political grandstanding shines through clear and bright. Google just censors search results. It hasn't turned anyone in. It hasn't taken down any sites. Nobody could conceivably be harmed in this sensational "think of the family!" way by seeing rosy pictures of Tian'an'men. It's purely political.

    If Congress was *really* interested in doing something about this, then they would recognize that the solution is not to criticize American companies, but to back them with a strong diplomatic stance up so that they would have the ability to say no to Beijing. But being tough to Beijing is hard, so let's bash these companies instead and hope that Americans will equate that to us doing something productive.

    And as much as I dislike these Nazi references, maybe we should think of it this way. Remember that scene in Schindler's List when Jewish doctors kill their patients with lethal doses of some sort of liquid shortly before the Nazis come crashing in? One could argue that these doctors were immoral because they killed Jews and by killing them, they were in a way helping with the Nazi extermination. But most people would not hold that view, and instead would praise them for having mercifully killed them instead of letting them be killed by machine gun bullets when the Nazis come. The doctors could do nothing about the fact that those people were going to die, so they decided to do a little evil of their own, but in a way that mitigated a worse evil. Replace killing with censorship, doctors with American companies, and now you have a more accurate Nazi comparison.

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