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Microsoft Your Rights Online

Microsoft Censoring Blogs on MSN China 316

jdfox writes "The BBC is reporting that Microsoft is censoring blogs on MSN China. The words 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'demonstration' are reportedly among the words being blocked. But the article also points out that Microsoft is not the first corporation to censor content when the Chinese government requests it." Slashdot covered this story a few days ago too.
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Microsoft Censoring Blogs on MSN China

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  • Dupe...with a twist. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:39AM (#12812047)

    This story is a dupe....reported previously as "Microsoft Bans 'Democracy' for China's Web Users" [] on Saturday, June 11th.

    Dupes are nothing new here, but the following is what really boggles me...

    From TFS:

    Slashdot covered this story a few days ago [] too.

    Um...OK...if you know it's a dupe, why is it still being re-reported?
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:41AM (#12812076)
    "The words 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'demonstration' "

    Yes, but what of fr33d0m, d3m0cracy, and dem0nstrat1on?

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:41AM (#12812081) Homepage
    ..they'd simply pull out of the Chinese market.
    But whats human rights and freedom when theres
    market share and online presence at stake. Right?
  • What about... (Score:3, Informative)

    by American In Berlin ( 892009 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:43AM (#12812111) Homepage
    The words 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'demonstration' are reportedly among the words being blocked.

    What about 'linux', 'google' and 'apple'?
  • OB Simpsons (Score:5, Funny)

    by PaxTech ( 103481 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:44AM (#12812117) Homepage
    "On this site in 1989, nothing happened." - Tianenmen Square plaque
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by failure-man ( 870605 ) <> on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:47AM (#12812162)
    Yeah, that's pretty shitty, but I wouldn't say it's Microsoft's fault. If they want to do business in China they have to comply with Chinese law. Chinese law's kinda oppressive. News at 11.
    • by DenDave ( 700621 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:00AM (#12812326)
      Chinese law forbids these terms? Funny, I recently reviewed their constitution, pity it's illegal now...

      The law doesn't forbid the terms, the Politburo does. A bunch of grey old commies who don't know that China is charging straight for the 21st century, whether they like it or not.

      • by Gulthek ( 12570 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:39AM (#12812809) Homepage Journal
        "You guys are Commies!? Then why do I see rudimentary free markets?" -- Homer

        The CCP has allowed open capitalists to join. My Chinese teacher (who was a former truck driver in Tibet in the 60s and 70s, cool guy) explained it like this:

        The CCP new guard are in a car leading the old CCP members following in another. Up ahead there is a fork with one side labeled Communism (Maoism actually) and the other labeled Capitalism. After a brief debate the new guard CCP decides to signal a turn to Communism, but turn towards Capitalism.
    • by goodviking ( 71533 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:10AM (#12812447) Journal
      I see, so your moral argument is "it's ok as long as were making money at it"? That's really nice. Maybe we can make some money selling crack to baby's, I hear there's a market.
    • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:20AM (#12812555)
      You see, there is this thing called ETHICS:

      In a statement RSF (Reporters Sans Frontiers) said: "The lack of ethics on the part of [Microsoft] is extremely worrying. Their management frequently justifies collaboration with Chinese censorship by saying that all they are doing is obeying local legislation.

      "Does that mean that if the authorities asked Microsoft to provide information about Chinese cyberdissidents using its services that it would agree to do so, on the basis that it is 'legal'?

      "We believe that this argument does not hold water and that these multinationals must respect certain basic ethical principles, in whatever country they are operating," it said.
    • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:43AM (#12813610)
      They don't have to do business in China.

      Values are only values when you are willing to give something up for them.
  • by theNote ( 319197 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:51AM (#12812206)
    Wow, so Microsoft is responsible for the lack of human rights in China? But China is awesome right? I mean, they use linux, how can they be bad?

    I bet they only use linux for the good stuff, and then they switch over to a MS box when they need to do some oppressing.
    • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:11AM (#12812450) Journal

      Wow, so Microsoft is responsible for the lack of human rights in China? But China is awesome right? I mean, they use linux, how can they be bad?

      Are you completely fucking stupid? MS is a player in a system, and their actions are helping to make the perpetuation and expansion of that system possible. Are they the ONLY player? Duh, no. Are they still cozying up to a totalitarian state? Yuppers.

      Any business that actively provides support to that system should be vilified, whether it is Wal-Mart, Nike, or freakin' Google.

      • by tempestdata ( 457317 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:48AM (#12812927)
        The idealistic side of me agrees with you completely. However, you have to realize that you are judging everything by YOUR societies yardstick. How much of the crude oil (that makes the gasoline and power we all use ) comes from free democratic and human rights respecting countries? The middle east? Russia? Nigeria? etc. etc. should anyone be expected to stop using Oil from such countries since it only helps strengthen the and enrich those already in power? Well thats a tough question..

        Anyway, my point is, its not so black and white. Its not good vs. evil. I dont like the chinese government (obviously you dont either), however, do you see any civil unrest there? any rioting or revolutions? no. Perhaps its because of the economic prosperity the totalitarian government is bringing them. Those kids working in the sweat shops, are happy to work there, because its either the sweat shops or they starve. If the chinese are unsatisfied with their government they can do something about it themselves... we shouldn't think they are unhappy just because we would be if we were in their shoes. :)
      • by theNote ( 319197 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @12:32PM (#12814290)
        Woah, calm down there guy, its a joke. You too are a player in the system, unless you don't own anything that was made in china.
        The fact is, it wasn't google, nike, or walmart in the headline, it was microsoft, and we all know why MS articles get posted here.

    • by sellin'papes ( 875203 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:51AM (#12812976) Homepage
      Yes, blame Microsoft.

      This is how China gets away with human rights abuses. If the rest of the G7 and all major corporations said that they wouldn't trade or deal with China unless they allowed freedom of speech, China would be a changed place. The problem is that companies like Microsoft don't care about human rights, and are only focused on improving share value. So why make a stand and cost the company money, when they can do whatever they want and continue to blame the Chinese government for human rights abuses.

      Microsoft, the US government, and many other countries/companies around the world are tacitly supporting the Chinese regime. Any opposition to human rights abuses is all talk:

      Microsoft and the US: No
      China: Make me
      Microsoft and the US: No

    • by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:39AM (#12813564) Homepage Journal
      they switch over to a MS box when they need to do some oppressing.

      Serves them right.

  • by boatboy ( 549643 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:56AM (#12812274) Homepage
    Could someone in the know explain how this happens from a business perspective? What are the benefits to Microsoft and others for complying, or the results of not complying? Is it even an option for them to say 'no thanks, we'd like to leave these words in.'?
  • by rben ( 542324 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:01AM (#12812335) Homepage

    ... that the dollar is more important than freedom or principles.

    I guess it shouldn't be any surprise the Microsoft and other companies are anxious to help China maintain and strengthen it's totalitarian government, since it's the government that controls the purse strings.

    It should give all of us in this country pause. Microsoft obviously has no issues with a government that has it's army fire upon students demonstrating for democracy. It's a short step from there to helping an American administration (of whichever party) do the same thing in this country. Considering how much money Microsoft was saved by the hand slap it got from Justice after being convicted of monopolistic practices, I would assume Bill Gates feels deeply indebted to the present administration.

    Apparently, even Google, a company that claims it's unofficial motto is "Dont' Be Evil", doesn't feel like it has a responsibility to behave ethically.

    It wasn't defense spending in the U.S. that caused the fall of Communisim in the USSR, it was blue jeans and walkmans -- simple economics. It became glaringly obvious to everyone in communist states that they were being deprived the advances that were cheap to citizens of democratic countries.

    The Chinese have never been stupid or foolish. They learned from the lesson of the USSR and they are modernizing their economy in order to prevent a similar revolution. It is unfortunate that companies like Microsoft, Google, and Walmart are so quick to help them.

    China is still a totalitarian government. China allows the use of slave and prison labor to produce goods which show up on American store shelves. Ever wonder why goods made in China are so inexpensive?

    The American government and businesses are not just hurting the Chinese people by helping such a government; they are hurting American citizens. We are losing jobs. We are becoming a nation that produces nothing but Reality TV shows. Worse the lesson to our children is that freedom only counts until someone offers you more money.

    These companies argue that by doing business with China, they are improving the lives of ordinary Chinese. How can we trust them? There have been numerous stories about the use of prison labor and child labor to produce goods bound for America. Can they really know that they are helping the average Chinese when China does not have a free press that can report how things actually are? I sincerely doubt that the workers in China are getting the same wages and benefits that American workers would get. I wonder if they are even getting enough more to substantially change their lives.

    If you are going to stand for freedom, you have to do it all the time, not just when it's financially attractive.

    • by saleenS281 ( 859657 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:18AM (#12812528) Homepage
      it took this to shed light on that for you? No offense but I see THAT as sad. If you haven't figured it out now, the major corporations in America do everything in their power to limit our rights in our own country. Whatever it takes to make more money, that's always been their motto.
    • by Ronald Dumsfeld ( 723277 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:21AM (#12812571)
      [It is sad that American Companies have decided ...]... that the dollar is more important than freedom or principles.
      If you think there's many examples of where American companies have thought freedom or principles were more important than money, you're being naive. Examples [] of what we might consider far worse can easily be found through history.

      As it is, people in China will find ways round the censorship, but the Tiananmen Square protests pointed out to their government that they need to improve the standard of living. Enough so that their people will be as disinterested in the governance of their country as those in many western democracies.

      That's why I'm disgusted that Microsoft is eagerly cooperating with their censorship.
    • Without sounding like a troll, I have the feeling that many people don't really care about rights here or abroad so long as the dividends are paid. If it comes down to meeting The Street estimates or taking a stand against human rights abuses, most investors will choose the latter -- some because they don't care, some because they don't believe it is their corporation's place to be involved in that.

      I recall asking my father if he would buy $.10 hamburgers from a restaurant that used slave labor. Without blinking he said, "Of course". I guess so long as it is their jackboot on someone else's face, they won't have any problems with the system.

      Recall that Microsoft, as a publicly traded corporation, has a fiduciary responsibility to make as much profit as possible without doing anything illegal. You can bet your bottom dollar that if a pro-active stance regarding China decreases profits, the directors will be replaced by those who will change that policy.
    • ... that the dollar is more important than freedom or principles.

      Of course they have, it wasn't even a choice.

      Corporations are legally obliged to maximize shareholder value, given the choice between money, freedom, and democracy they legally, and one could even argue morally, must choose money. For PR reasons they try to help freedom and priciples if it's convenient and pay as much lip service as they can but that's as far as it goes. The reason the shareholders come together isn't freedom or democracy, it's money, for a the leaders of a corporation to impose values of freedom and democracy on shareholders who have only exhibited an interest in profit is unethical and bait for a lawsuit.

      This isn't a troll or a left wing rant, it's just how it works, corporations due to their single minded determination can be great for the economy and they can be generous if it fulfills their self-interest. But at the end of the day if you create an entity for the express purpose of earning money you shouldn't be surprised when at the cost of things like freedom and democracy it starts doing exactly that.
    • ... that the dollar is more important than freedom or principles.

      I bet they'd be eager to know how to run a company and pay employees using freedom.
    • Hm, no.

      The lesson is more like "no use bitching about things YOU can't change."

      You posting that, is it gonna change China? No. Is MS backing out of a deal going to change China? No. They will find someone else to do it instead.

      Might as well get in there, get your piece of the pie, and THEN try to change them once you are well established. MS can't do that shit here, but they COULD do it in China.

      Get it?
    • t wasn't defense spending in the U.S. that caused the fall of Communisim in the USSR, it was blue jeans and walkmans -- simple economics.

      It might be argued that the demise of Communism in the Soviet Union was due to their internal history. All the millions of people sent to slave labor camps and the purposeful dislocation of entire ethnic groups. Plus the deliberate starvation that developed by the conversion of productive farms to collectives according to political theory. And the ruthless supression of any common sense dissent that disagreed with the current political theory. Plus the huge slaughter of World War II.
      I suspect that the Soviet Union would have fallen even if they didn't have any external resistance from the West. The people themselves were simply worn out.
      For the West to claim that their huge corrupt 'defense expenditures' (which primarily serves to give government funds to large corporations that are the largest campaign contributors) or clothing styles were responsible for ending the USSR is self-serving and absurd.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:01AM (#12812348)
    If I wrote "Dem0cr@cy" and "Freed0m" instead of "Democracy" and "Freedom", would that fool the system?

    I have a feeling that any success with that would be caught by M$ pretty fast!

    Note: Those letters in "Dem0cr@cy" and "Freed0m" are zeros and not an "o".

  • by the0ther ( 720331 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:04AM (#12812379)
    Seriously, this should be viewed as a really really awful thing on the part of MS. Isolate those effing ChiComs until they're ready to live up to the same standards of freedom as the nations of the civilized world.
  • I know that the advertisements on everyone sees after the main article text are not always the same, but when I first looked at this article, I saw a big Visual Studio .NET advertisement from Microsoft.

    So, is it very enlightened of Microsoft to sponsor an article that implies their own misconduct, or will the ad be pulled when they figure it out?
  • by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:11AM (#12812455) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft is censoring blogs on MSN China. The words 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'demonstration' are reportedly among the words being blocked.

    This is bad news for an oppressive regime. How are finks, spooks, and informers supposed to do their dirty business if they can't:

    A. Praise Democracy, in order to entrap dissidents;

    B. Condemn Democracy, in order to rally more finks, spooks, and informers?

  • by KrisCowboy ( 776288 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:13AM (#12812472) Journal
    Blocking information in this century is really a grave mistake. We've finally reached a stage where the entire data is at our fingers - if Douglas Adams were alive, he'd say Earth has finally finished calculating the ultimate question. Why is a govt. afraid of it's online content? Sounds like those Nazi days of Germany when it was previleged to have uncensorsed information about the rest of the world. The Chinese need to do something.
  • by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:20AM (#12812548) Journal
    Didn't they learn there lesson yesterday?

  • Hypocrites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:23AM (#12812604)
    I'd bet money that half of you people who see nothing wrong with MS capitulating to the totalitarian desires of China bashed the shit out of IBM for it's activities during WWII.
  • by corcoranp ( 892008 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:40AM (#12812826) Homepage Journal
    We Are Microsoft -- your political, sociological and economical distinctiveness will be added to our own... Resistance is futile...
  • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:42AM (#12812840)
    My comment in an earlier and similar thread: id=12794325 []
  • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:07AM (#12813169)
    China is "Socialist" government... when they the law to censor people, that is good.

    Microsoft is "Capitalist", so when they obey the laws that "Socialists" put in place to censor people, they are bad.

    Of course, if Microsoft refused to obey the Chinese laws, the opinion on Slashdot would be "evil capitalists, threatening the sovernty of 'Socialist' China".

    Basicly, the perfect world according to the Slashdot crowd is a world where a totalitarian one world government controls all economy, media, and everything else in the world, except Apple (because all capitalism is evil, except Apple who are "totaly rad!").
  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:18AM (#12813329) Homepage Journal
    This alone is enough to make me seriously consider open source. Any coporate entitiy that is complicit to the supression of human rights and free speach to such a degree is evil. That goes for Google too. I know that sounds extreem, but really. Think about it. We have two notable companies basically turning their attention the other way in the pursuit of profit, one of which has professed publically to be "the good guy company". You can't have it both ways. Either you're the good guys and support free speech or you really just don't give a damn and chase after the phrase "Show me the money".

    I used to not give a crap about opensource and the like, but from this moment on, Microsoft and Google are on my shit-list.
  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:47AM (#12813681)
    Do the Chinese use different words for "freedom" and "demonstration" depending on context? "Freedom" and "demonstration" can be used in contexts outside of politics, for example: "This fashion style allows the wearer more freedom of movement." "The experiment was a demonstration of how light refracts."

  • by Emperor Tiberius ( 673354 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:56AM (#12813800) Homepage
    As much as I hate to defend Microsoft, there is a point to be made here. China's government requested the censure. I'm sure if MS dragged their feet on it, they would have been added to "The Great Firewall of China."
  • Of course somehow this thread turned into a "MS is evil because they do business with China in the first place". Besides the fact that the vast majority you do business with China (many computers have parts made in China), I could also contend that allowing the Chinese government to thrive on Linux is immoral. Unless of course the GPL was updated to dissallow any dictatorship from benefiting from the software.
  • by FooHentai ( 624583 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @12:41PM (#12814417) Homepage
    What if the Chinese Gov had requested that for every blog posted on MSN Spaces, Bill Gates had to kill a dog?

    He should do it, right? After all, that's respecting the laws of a country you're operating in and that's what Microsoft believes should be done.

    I don't see how it's any different. Both are proactive moves and both stand against most people's moral standards. I think Microsoft's management would see things far differently if the results were right there in front of them. They're actively aiding in suppressing human rights, as defined by their own country. For this reason, and because Microsoft is not a military or political power (give it a few years), the only morally acceptable action would be to stay out of the markey.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.