The Seattle Times today notes that Bill Gates publicly
“hinted that China’s development requires embracing new concepts such as freedom to access the Internet a delicate subject at a time when U.S. companies face pressure to accept government censorship of their Chinese sites.
“People and business everywhere are harnessing the power of the Internet, which will have a profound impact on economic development, education and communications,” Gates said. “Industry and governments around the world should work even more closely to protect privacy and security and promote the exchange of ideas, while respecting legitimate government considerations.””
The Seattle Times yesterday pointed out the dilemma of Microsoft doing business in China. China jails e-journalists. And Microsoft has helped them.
“With the mainstream Chinese media heavily censored, the Internet has become a a vital outlet for independent journalism, critical writing and information. The authorities are ruthless in their suppression of criticism of their rule in any medium. China has jailed more writers and journalists than any other country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Fifteen of the 32 journalists in prison in China in 2005 wrote for the Internet. Very often they are charged with violating national security or subversion laws for daring to raise a critical voice. Censorship in China is nothing new, but the growing cooperation of U.S. technology companies in China’s repressive policies is.”
Where is Microsoft specifically in this? On Feb 15, Microsoft along with Cisco, Google, and Yahoo testified before Congress:
“Microsoft associate general counsel Jack Krumholtz, along with his industry colleagues, dutifully laid out the dilemma they face: Cooperate with China’s repressive demands, or risk losing a foothold in the world’s most promising internet market Â more than 110 million Chinese are online and the number is steadily growing.”
“Microsoft confronted that dilemma in late 2005, when the Chinese government requested that it censor blogger Zhao Jing. On Dec. 30, with no prior warning, Microsoft pulled the plug on Zhao’s site, which was hosted on MSN Spaces. The silencing came after Zhao wrote about the government’s removal of top editors at the Beijing News.”
“A storm of criticism persuaded Microsoft to alter its policy. The company now says it will still shut down blogs in China when told to by the government, but the sites will continue to live on in a cyber no-man’s land outside China, where their authors will not be easily able to update them.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists on Tues sent President Hu a letter urging him to reverse his repressive media policies. Bloggers and other journalists in America and other countries need to do likewise.Reporters Without Borders said it had obtained a copy of the verdict showing that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) helped Chinese police to identify Jiang by confirming that the e-mail account ZYMZd2002 had been used jointly by Jiang and another pro-democracy activist Li Yibing.”