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Businesses Censorship Google Microsoft Your Rights Online

We're Staying In China, Says Microsoft 249

Posted by Soulskill
from the swinging-the-ethics-bat dept.
ericb tips an article at the Guardian which begins: "Hopes that Google's forthright stand on censorship in China would inspire other companies to follow suit appeared unfounded today, with the move instead threatening to widen the rift between some of the world's most powerful internet companies. Microsoft, which has considerable interests in the country, including its Bing search engine, responded directly to criticism by Google's co-founder Sergey Brin, who this week accused the company of speaking against human rights and free speech. Brin, who pressed for the closing down of Google's self-censored Chinese search engine, said yesterday: 'I'm very disappointed for them in particular. I would hope that larger companies would not put profit ahead of all else. Generally, companies should pay attention to how and where their products are used.' Microsoft rejected Brin's critique, saying it would continue to obey local laws on censorship in China."
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We're Staying In China, Says Microsoft

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  • Conflicted! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sporkinum (655143) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:36AM (#31625210)

    I am conflicted! I like Bing's policy on retention of searches, and dislike their China policy. I admire Google's new policy on China, but dislike their privacy policies in the US.

  • Re:Torn (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:51AM (#31625414) Journal
    While I've seen a great deal of discussion about human rights surrounding these stories, I've seen precious little about sovereignty.

    Yeah the whole Treaty of Westphalia thing is like so fine minutes ago. It's been repeatedly violated, of course, (US -> Granada, US-> Bay of Pigs, US -> Iraq 2003, Germany -> Poland 1939, USSR -> Hungary 1958, etc. etc.) but the point was that the principle remained. Now, with the Bush Doctrine of "we'll bomb the crap out of anyone we feel like" has become the preemptive SOP, sovereignty has become a secondary issue. What the Google operation unmasks is the fig leaf that is government itself. Government is simply the means by which the ruling class projects and protects its interests.Completely amoral and unmoored from historical notions of continuity and reciprocity, it is now a Hobbesian war of all (industrial systems) vs all (industrial systems) over the dwindling resources to feed said systems.

    At least the obvious is now much more obvious to ever larger groups of ever stupider people.

  • Re:Conflicted! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:59AM (#31625496) Homepage Journal

    "I admire Google's new policy on China, but dislike their privacy policies in the US."
    Sorry but admiring Google for no longer censoring is like admiring someone for no longer beating their child.
    Yes I am glad it stopped but it should have never started.
    Also Google only did this after they got hacked the the government. I have for a long time stated that Google was doing evil.

  • by C_Kode (102755) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:08AM (#31625620) Journal

    Since Microsoft has decided to tow the line, it's going to be tough for them. Exactly how much money is to be made in China? I think Google pulling out wasn't completely about morality. I think they just sold it as such. I think it had to do more with the extreme overhead in dealing with the Chinese governemnt. Like in managing massive filters that are required. Not just for existing content, but new content. Tie that in with the fact that probably every 2 minutes, the Chinese government adding 50 new things to be filtered.

    I liken SPAM management to web filtering, but web filtering is on a much much larger scale. There isn't just around one to two thousand people writing web content. There are around 116+ million domains and around 150,000 new domains each day. (http://whois.sc/internet-statistics/) The dataset is astronomical. I'm sure installing WebSense is inadequate.

    Good luck Microsoft. Not sure it's going to be as profitable as you think. Not to mention, I'm not sure China is all tat Microsoft friendly. I seem to recall the Chinese government forcing people to uninstall Windows in favor of Red Flag Linux.

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:08AM (#31625626) Journal

    Maybe they are the world's knight in shining armor come to save the world from censorship and DRM and stop government from spying and stuff.

    Hey come on, it might happen.

  • Re:Conflicted! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ebombme (1092605) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:08AM (#31625628)
    I believed google was evil the moment it acquired doubleclick [google.com]. In my opinion that company was spreading malware long before the term was even invented.
  • Re:Torn (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:25AM (#31625872)

    I'm not a fan of the hypocrites who impose minimum wage laws in the local economy but allow imports without any restrictions.

    I'm not a fan of the hypocrites who impose consumer protection laws in the local economy but allow imports without any restrictions.

    I'm not a fan of the hypocrites who impose environmental laws in the local economy but allow imports without any restrictions.

    We allow the *AA to tell our government what to do, so what makes you think that they don't?

  • Re:Torn (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:27AM (#31625918)

    Would we want a Chinese company to come into our country and tell our government what to do? While I've seen a great deal of discussion about human rights surrounding these stories, I've seen precious little about sovereignty.

    If our government was as oppressive as the Chinese government, then hell yes, I'd like foreign powers to pressure our government to improve its human rights record. And if foreign powers weren't willing to step up to the plate, foreign companies would be welcome. I value my freedom a lot more than a bunch of primitive tribalism. And the last thing I'd want is a company like Microsoft to come in and collaborate with my oppressive government.

    As far as sovereignty goes, my view is that the legitimacy of a government, and hence its sovereignty, arises from the democratic will of a free people. There are no legitimate non-democratic states, so the question of mainland Chinese sovereignty is moot. The PRC is no more a legitimate state than the USSR was.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @10:00AM (#31626494)

    Any time corporate ethics come up, someone inevitably posts ths "IBM Nazi" thing like it is some kind of established fact. Unfortunately it is not nearly as clear as Edwin Black and his supporters make it out to be. First of all, not every historian even agrees [businessweek.com] with the breathless claims made in the book, but few are willing to put up with the claims of anti-semitism that are inevitably raised when someone questions Mr Black's research.

    Secondly, even assuming the company and everyone who ever was associated with it is guilty of being a Nazi, Edwin Black himself did a huge amount of business with IBM, so his moral lecturing rings a little hollow.

    Thirdly, how could anyone believe that the launch of the book and the class action lawsuit (timed to happen simultaneously, and immediately thrown out of court never to be heard from again) was a co-incidence?

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Friday March 26, 2010 @10:03AM (#31626528)

    That would be a reasonable way to look at it if Google didn't start pointing fingers. How do we know that the same ambivalence doesn't exist within Microsoft?

  • by ffreeloader (1105115) on Friday March 26, 2010 @11:08AM (#31627494) Journal

    I'm not sure what the formal name of the logical fallacy you used in your post is, but it most definitely is a logical fallacy.

    There is nothing in Capitalistic theory that says companies must act unethically to succeed, or that the ONLY motivation a company must have is greed.

    There are ethical businesses and businessmen. Not all businessmen think that short-term profit is their only goal or only reason for existence. Yes, a business must make money to succeed and to stay in business, but that doesn't mean greed must be the over-riding motivation.

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