Yesterday I blogged about Microsoft’s decision to aid and abet the Chinese government in their desire to censor Chinese bloggers. Robert Scoble, a Microsoft employee and prominent blogger, predictably comes to his employer’s defense: after writing that he believes in the first amendment–for him, at least, he continues, “So I have ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS forcing the Chinese into a position they don’t believe in.” “Business” is the operative word here, as in dollars to Microsoft’s bottom line. Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at Harvard University’s Beckman Center for Internet and Society, takes him to task: “But nobody’s asking Microsoft to force China to do anything. The issue is whether Microsoft should be collaborating with the Chinese regime as it builds an increasingly sophisticated system of Internet censorship and control.” That, as I wrote yesterday, is the real issue: why does Microsoft value China’s business above the liberal values of democracy and free speech that have enabled Microsoft to grow into what it has become? MacKinnon has plenty of blame to go around–Microsoft is hardly the first to assist the Chinese government in their despicable goals–just perhaps the most blatant. As MacKinnon concludes, “I can tell you one more thing about the Chinese. They hear what you say, then they watch how you do business. From there, it’s pretty easy to figure out what your real values are.” I think we know now about all we need to know about how Microsoft does business….
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