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Microsoft Blocks Messenger In Five Embargoed Countries

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the but-can-they-still-tweet dept.

Communications 194

Spooky McSpookster writes "Microsoft has turned off its Windows Live Messenger service for five countries: Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea. Users in these countries trying to log in get the following error: '810003c1: We were unable to sign you in to the .NET Messenger Service.' Why now, since this flies in the face of the Obama administration's softening stance on Cuba? This isn't the first time the US trade embargo has had questionable outcomes. US-based Syrian political activist George Ajjan created a web site promoting democracy in Syria, only to find GoDaddy blocked anyone inside Syria from seeing it. The article argues, 'Messenger is a medium for communication, and the citizens of these countries should not be punished from such a basic tool because the US has problems with their governments' policies.' What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?"

cancel ×

194 comments

First post!! (2, Insightful)

moj0e (812361) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067419)

Without reading the article, I would assume that M$ makes advertising money with its IM. Because of that, it might be construed that it is doing business with countries that it has no business doing business. (that was really an excuse for first post...)

Re:First post!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067447)

Without reading your comment, I assume it is worthless.

Re:First post!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067477)

Captain Obvious, is that you?

Re:First post!! (2, Interesting)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067963)

With the press talking about people who want to harm the U.S. using Facebook, Twitter, various IM systems etc, it almost makes sense to turn off one such avenue of abuse. It may be a "lead by example" thing... or a software bug.

Re:First post!! (2, Interesting)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068139)

Until somebody figures out that, by using Tor, you can connect to MSN from anywhere in the world, bypassing all such restrictions.....

Re:First post!! (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068193)

Was that an attempt at a +5 Troll?

Slashcode's lack of characterset support (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067427)

In Iran, they would actually get the localized message, "Dirka dirka Muhammed jihad"

Re:Slashcode's lack of characterset support (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067955)

In Iran, they would actually get the localized message, "Dirka dirka Muhammed jihad"

I don't know whether to rue your comment, or the mods who moderated it "Funny". It seems like /. is giving more and more mod points away to 14 years olds these days. Is it really "funny" when the instinctive association for any Islamic country is "muhammed" and "jihad"? It's not really amusing when people in other countries put on a cowboy hat and do a Bush impersonation of Americans, and it's not really amusing when Americans do a turban/jihad/terrorist impression of Muslim countries. How the hell can there be any constructive dialogue when a large percentile of the populace is busy acting like 14 year olds?

Re:Slashcode's lack of characterset support (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068081)

I'm in a generous mood today, so I'll help:
    http://www.teamamerica.com/ [teamamerica.com]

You're welcome!

Re:Slashcode's lack of characterset support (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068097)

For example, I find it hilarious when someone with a Danish accent does an impersonation of an American presidential cowboy.
As for the "dirka dirka" comment, it comes from a satirical animation that had a very strong political and philosophical message. Perhaps you have not seen it? [southparkstudios.com]

Re:Slashcode's lack of characterset support (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068115)

How the hell can there be any constructive dialogue when a large percentile of the populace is busy acting like 14 year olds?

We'll stop acting like 14 year olds when Muslims stop being terrorists.

Re:Slashcode's lack of characterset support (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068463)

Not every Muslim is a terrorist. At most times, those terrorists aren't even considered Muslims at all. Think before you speak. (I'm a buddhist by the way, posting AC for patriotic Americans with mod points)

Re:Slashcode's lack of characterset support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068489)

It's not really amusing when people in other countries put on a cowboy hat and do a Bush impersonation of Americans,/---/

Why would anyone try too look like Bush with a cowboy hat too impersonate an American. Too impersonate an American you put on a hawaiian shirt with food stains, gigantic shorts with food(?) stains, tube socks and sandals, ice in your trousers (if your male), put three pillows under your clothes and cotton in your mouth and parade around saying arr arr raarr burb. Yes, it's funny.

Re:Slashcode's lack of characterset support (4, Informative)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068221)

They don't speak Arabic in Iran, you fool.

Why now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067463)

It might be a CYA move by Microsoft since the current administration is not perceived as friendly -- basically just trying to eliminate any possible gotchas that the government could use to cause problems for them.

Re:Why now? (0)

cbs4385 (929248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067853)

Microsoft has enough money that they could make any administration friendly. Enough money into the campaign chest = friendly political party.

Re:Why now? (2, Insightful)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068309)

Good point- money...

Is it possible that Microsoft does not sell their products in those countries, therefore anyone using their software is using a pirated version?

If so, then this could be a business plan- not a censorship issue.

Who cares anyway? (0, Troll)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068257)

Does anyone still use any Microsoft products any more? After all, I thought Linux and OS X occupied something like 98% of the market. Nobody would ever notice if Microsoft stopped making its services available to these countries, much less care.

;-)

Re:Why now? (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068443)

But isn't this what makes the net cool. If you're blocked you can find a way around it. You don't *have* to use MSN. Or Facebook. There's other ways to talk.

Maybe they'll create pariah-net or something.

About the same (5, Insightful)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067465)

What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?

About the same as the wisdom of US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication. The ones are about as likely as the others, to end up with a strange feeling on their backsides.

Re:About the same (4, Interesting)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067741)

Damn - just used my points in another thread. Exactly what I wanted to say. Unfortunately, people in these countries are unlikely to have a choice...I remember handing out copies of my Skype backup install in the UAE, since downloading it was blocked there...

Re:About the same (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068595)

Uuum... Yes, UAE got a "great firewall", but everybody knows proxies to get around it. Only one rich guy there needs to get a server outside the UAE, and make it a proxy. If they block it, just change the IP.

Re:About the same (1)

RR (64484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067993)

What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?

About the same as the wisdom of US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication.

Especially when the companies involved are Microsoft and GoDaddy.

Microsoft does what is good for Microsoft (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067473)

They don't do what is good for "people" in general and they don't claim to do so.

This is true of every big corporation. It's probably true of any group where liability for actions are taken away.

Re:Microsoft does what is good for Microsoft (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068069)

But, Apple seems cool, so they probably do care about me! After all, they're telling me how I can look hip. And Google says they aren't evil, so that means they aren't.

Re:Microsoft does what is good for Microsoft (1)

mozzis (231162) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068383)

Corporations not liable? You've got to be ignorant.

Anonymous Coward (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067479)

Live Messenger sucks anyway. They should start using AIM or Gtalk.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

f0dder (570496) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067561)

Aren't those not also American companies?

Re:Anonymous Coward (4, Funny)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067575)

This reply reminds me of something one my really dumb bosses said to me one time when I was trying to fix a problem I was having in my linux instation.

"Can't you just call Linux and have them fix it?"

Like everything we use has to be centered at some big corporation somewhere...

Re:Anonymous Coward (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067831)

You actually can do that. I call Canonical to have things fixed all the time. FYI, they are pretty fast fixing my problems too.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0, Offtopic)

Xymor (943922) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067865)

Tecnically you can call and ask 'Linux' to fix it asap, but it costs money.
Or buy Oracle's Unbreakable Linux. If it breaks you can sue them for false advertising.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067871)

"Like everything we use has to be centered at some big corporation somewhere..."

Not unless you want definitive help.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0, Troll)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067889)

Phone (Santa Clara USA): +1 (408) 327 9830 x328

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

Faylone (880739) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068183)

Don't bother. A quick Google search shows this as Linus Torvald's work number. It also shows his web page where he says "If you're looking for Linux information, you'll find more of it somewhere else, because I'm hopeless when it comes to documentation."

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068301)

That depends on whether you want some clueless ass to lower his productivity by smacking his monitor like a monkey at a banana vending machine until it works, or have a trained professional fix something in a tenth of the time so that business can resume as normal...

Simple explanation (4, Funny)

Keruo (771880) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067483)

Simple. They were using the "block country" wizard 4 years ago to do this change, but whomever was doing the blocking, accidentally pressed cancel on the last sheet. Until now, no-one noticed that those countries weren't blocked.

Re:Simple explanation (4, Funny)

Paaskonijn (1220996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067933)

Impossible! Microsoft users have been thoroughly trained never to press cancel in a dialog box.

is the problem really US companies? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067493)

The slashdot article writes: "What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?"

It's not so much that it's a US company, but closed source product.

Microsoft activation has disabled plenty of US citizens who upgraded some components of their hardware that WGA didn't like.

And even if you buy from other companies you're not safe from US sabotage in closed source software. Remember the Soviet Oil Pipeline software bought from a Canadian firm - which had CIA-placed trojans in it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_pipeline_sabotage

If you care about your software infrastructure - make sure you have the ability to fix (or hire independent consultants to fix) your software no matter what your vendor does - whether it's something innocent like going bankrupt, or deliberately breaking your infrastructure.

wow, pretty biased (5, Insightful)

deft (253558) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067495)

I'm not a lover or hater of MS, but I know when a article is biased.

Right after the writer says "it's not clear that Microsoft was ordered to make this change, so what made the company decide that US-embargoed countries aren't worthy of Messenger? Why now?".

If it's not clear, why assume they chose? Why say they aren't worthy... clearly MS thought they were for some time. MS gets no good from blocking it, they just want users. Maybe their lawyers had been arguing with the government and finally there was a decision.

Noone knows... which means don't conclude anything. More info needed.

Re:wow, pretty biased (3, Funny)

cesc (121088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068067)

I'm not a lover or hater of MS, but I know when a article is biased.

Are you new here? Either you are with us or against us when it comes to MS terrorist business.

Please make up your mind quickly or we will preemptively send you to Gitmo.

Re:wow, pretty biased (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068209)

Are you new here? Either you are with us or against us when it comes to MS terrorist business.

Who is this Microsoft you speak of?

Let's generalise... (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067497)

What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?

What does this say about the wisdom of anyone relying on a single provider for their business or communication? The idea of a second source isn't exactly new. If you adopt a technology from a single provider, with no interoperability, then don't be surprised when you realise that their interests are not the same as yours. If you use MSN Messenger and Facebook instead of XMPP and email then you are subject to the whims of these two companies and their legal obligations.

Re:Let's generalise... (2, Insightful)

pisco_sour (722645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067935)

The reason many people (myself included at some point) decide to use US-based services for different purposes is, in my view, quite reasonable. First of all, there's a matter of access: I can have access to much cheaper and better services via the web (i.e. web hosting) by choosing a foreign provider than a domestic one. Similarly for domain names - a generic .com domain hosted abroad costs about a tenth of what a similar domain would on my country's TLD.

The second possibility I see is more legally/politically concerned. It's much simpler for governments you may be trying to criticize to shut down your operation if it's based on a local provider than if it's based abroad - even if it's something as simple as it will take them longer to get it down.

So there's a reasoning behind using services abroad for your business or communication, and it is not necessarily "unwise". As for your comment - some very small scale operations will really have a hard time arranging for secondary providers and so on, so this might only be reserved for larger scale ops. I do agree with you in that it's very important - just perhaps not an option for anyone.

Thanks (2, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067503)

Is not like they will avoid them to access the service, or at least a big part of it. There are plenty of places that gives a messenger web gateway.

But closing it is a good first step. It those countries people used to have something in desktop will have to install other alternatives, maybe going out from the messenger, hotmail or even windows in big numbers, going to alternatives (i.e. google talk, and probably gmail by association).

Re:Thanks (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068423)

and when google (another US-based company) starts blocking them, what?

Why now? why not... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067523)

Microsoft is a corporation, not some grand giving entity with the mission to help humanity. If they saw it more in their interests to turn this off then deal with the consequences of leaving access open, who cares. It is not MS's charter to provided uncompromising and unending access for communication to all the poor oppressed peoples in the world. Their charter is to generate profit for its owners and share holders.

Cheers.

Re:Why now? why not... (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067553)

Corporations doing what is best for their owners and share holders is a MYTH. This is one of the biggest myths of the corporate era of history.

Corporations move first to promote the interests of the *corporation* itself. The interests of shareholders is a very. very distant second.

If the shareholders where higher on the ladder you wouldn't see the rush to declare bankruptcy where the common shareholder gets nothing out of the deal.

Re:Why now? why not... (4, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067795)

Corporations move first to promote the interests of the *corporation* itself.

On which planet? Here on planet Earth, corporations act in the best interest of one or two board members on a good day, and on the supposed, but completely erroneously assessed, best interest of same board members the rest of the year. The shareholders and employees get shafted regularly. The American and British motor industries appear to act consistently against their own best interests.

Mergers are almost always to the benefit of a few board members, and to the complete detriment of the corporation and its shareholders.

Re:Why now? why not... (1)

miknix (1047580) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068111)

Corporations doing what is best for their owners and share holders is a MYTH. This is one of the biggest myths of the corporate era of history.

It is time to call MythBusters! I wonder if they can come up with a way to put the words "corporation" and "explosives" in the same sentence.

Step one: Aim at foot. (5, Insightful)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067529)

How pointless, hopefully everyone will switch to something non commercial like Jabber and the only ones to suffer will be Microsoft.

And nothing of value was lost (5, Insightful)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067531)

More power to decentralised protocols like XMPP where anyone can run a server, even if all internet access is cut off to that particular country

They should grab open sourse software (5, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067535)

I believe these countries have gurus who can grab open source software and end up build a versatile system. Who the hell needs Microsoft?

It could be Jabber all the way.

Re:They should grab open sourse software (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067621)

Jihabber

Same as US citizens relying on non-US company (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067563)

What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?

The same thing it says for US citizens relying on non-US companies for their business or communication. There will be times when the company you are relying on makes decisions detrimental to your interests based on said company's understanding of the laws in their country.
Or even the same thing as people relying on others in the same country for business or communication, sometimes they will act in ways that are detrimental to your interests based on what they perceive to be in their best interest.

Best weapon is trade and communication. (4, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067579)

Tyrannical regimes operate best by minimizing the exchange of information or reducing its accuracy. For example, Beijing often covers up both disasters like sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and brutality like torturing Tibetan monks. Chinese citizens who live in an area affected by SARS or witnessed the torture of Tibetans but who have access to non-Beijing-controlled communication systems can then use such systems to spread the truth to other citizens. An example of a communication system is Windows Live Messenger (WLM).

Also communication systems like WLM enable folks trapped in tyrannical regimes to communicate with the outside world. The ability to communicate with Europeans is an important mechanism for spreading Western values -- human rights, democracies, and simple compassion -- into brutal societies.

... and trade (3, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067727)

I forgot to add that trade -- i. e., economic trade -- is important for spreading those Western values. Trade facilitates the transfer of information from the West to brutal regimes and maximizes exposure of their citizens to Western ideas.

Compare China today to China before 1980. The difference is night and day. China is freer today because trade injected numerous Western ideas into the country.

For that same reason, the economic sanctions against Burma starve its people of Western ideas.

Trade and communications are the best weapons against tyrannical regimes.

How is it bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067585)

And how exactly is it bad?

Now those people will look for alternaties, perhaps even something open source or multiplatformal...

The less people use M$ IM, the lesst they depend on M$...

What alternatives? (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067631)

I read several people talking about the alternatives to Live Messenger but what are they? I'm sure every open source alternative supports emotes and simple text formatting but what about Video Chat?

Currently I only know of four IM applications that support video:
- Live Messenger
- Skype (Horrible quality)
- Yahoo!
- Apple iChat (Mac Only)

The year is 2009 and we have fat pipes, so you have little excuse for sticking to 1980s style text conversations.

Re:What alternatives? (1)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067657)

I happen to like talk, thank you very much.

Re:What alternatives? (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067699)

GChat belongs on that list, too. I haven't tried it myself, and I can't tell if it's only supported in GMail.

Re:What alternatives? (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067721)

Ekiga [ekiga.org] and QuteCom [qutecom.org]

As a bonus, they both work on Windows as well as Linux. I cannot attest to their quality compared to Skype but I also cannot think of any reason they should offer less quality than Netmeeting.

Re:What alternatives? (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067885)

Video and voice offer little or no benefit over text chat.

Re:What alternatives? (3, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068087)

Ah! The typical open source supporter: instead of just admitting we can't meet your need, we'll just pretend your need doesn't exist.

Re:What alternatives? (1, Interesting)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068321)

When faced with the typical open source basher, who pretends the entire world shares their need and, therefore, anyone who does not is a delusional fanboy still living in the '80s, I don't blame him.

Fact: most of the world is happy with text conversation. Fact: a non-trivial percentage of the world is *better off* with text conversation (for instance, anyone with more than one friend and/or discusses code over IM).

Yeah, lack of support for video chat in other clients is a problem, but nowhere near as big as the GGP makes it look like.

Re:What alternatives? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067975)

The year is 2009 and we have fat pipes, so you have little excuse for sticking to 1980s style text conversations.

You're suggesting, perhaps, that Slashdot offer the following options:

    Plain Old Text
    HTML Formatted
    Extrans (html tags to text)
    Code
    Webcam

I'd think that would be impractical for a numer of reasons, not the least of which is that the moderation system would have to be changed to account for things like no underwear and manboobs.

As for the 1980's characterisation, I'll point out we've been using text for at last a few thousand years.
   

Re:What alternatives? (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068357)

The year is 2009 and we have fat pipes, so you have little excuse for sticking to 1980s style text conversations.

Firstly, "we" may, but what about the countries mentioned in the summary under this embargo restriction?

Secondly, it's not a linear progression of technology, where more bandwidth corresponds with a better method of communication. Voice, video, and text (and even then, IM vs. SMS vs. e-mail and so on) each have their own benefits and downfalls.

One easy example is that for a webcam chat, you can more easily make sense of the person's tone and attitude, but with text you can read what the person said at your own pace, and go back and read it whenever you like.

What does this say for the wisdom??? (1)

jcwynholds (765111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067639)

About the _wisdom_ of these people? Nothing.
These people use the services not because it's some grand choice, but because _others_ have adopted it and the popularity is overwhelming.
Free alternatives exist, but might not be known to many people. It's about popularity. I love free software too, but you have to admit "wisdom" has very little to do with it.
First-world jerkoffs sitting in thier ivory tower commenting on the "wisdom" of these people leaves me pretty speechless.
This has to be one of the worst headlines in recent memory.

There _are_ other ways to communicate. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067681)

> What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their
> business or communication?

What does this say for the wisdom of relying on a free service provided by any company for their business or communication?

BTW it may shock you to learn that the US is not the only country with asinine regulations.

The criminals are not the people but those in..... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067687)

...power to control..

For the people, some 6 billion plus to communicate openly they will find they are no different in their daily living and can become friends.

But for those in positions of power and control, they would not want this to happen as it takes control and power away from them and even exposes them as the perpetrator of all the bad shit they put on the rest of us.

Here is an example of what better can be done and raises the question of why is it not being done [unesco.org] Want to beat terrorism, then remove the reasons that motivate terrorism.

It is some fraction of 1% of the population that is causing the problems for the rest of us.

Can I get in on this? (3, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067753)

So the only way to prevent that damn thing from starting every time you even look at any MS app is to be designated part of the "Axis of Evil"? Seems worth it.

Re:Can I get in on this? (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068253)

Do you have to join an existing axis, or shall we form our own?

Re:Can I get in on this? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068421)

Hmm, "The Axis of Quit-it-with-Fucking-Messenger-Already" does have a certain ring to it...

what about Proxies?? (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067791)

cant this be bypassed easily by use of proxies from sites like hidemyass, etc if they are doing it based on IP's??

otherwise, just change your country in your msn profile..

I feel unloved (5, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067821)

Why do Cuba, North Korea and all get better security due to a lack of access to one of the biggest malware outlets on the planet and we don't?

Strong encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067825)

Strong encryption can't be distributed to those countries. This is not newsworthy.

GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067827)

"What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?"

Isn't that why Europe wants their own GPS?

Re:GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067875)

Hmmm.....the Germans want Europe to have it's own GPS system so that the next time American troops have to come save Europe, they'll get lost on the way to Berlin.

I don't understand this reasoning. (2, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067845)

I don't understand either the reasoning here, or why they feel that blocking web service is either desirable or required under US law. (Obviously, it's different if you want to sell something there.)

We do Internet broadcasting (in English) and have a steady audience in Iran, Syria and Sudan (the largest of these being in Iran). It's early evening right now in all three places, and people there are watching TV from the US. Seems to me that that is a good thing.

OMG BANDWAGON (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067859)

You people know that Microsoft is just following the law here? I'm sure they realize this isn't advantageous for them. If you don't like it, you could let your appropriate representative know.

Problem is US government. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067863)

How about getting to the core of the problem, US embargo policies, rather than beating the dead horse that is Microsoft bashing.

Real swift Ballmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067907)

The goal is to get our enemies to use _more_ back-door-laden Microsoft products. How are we supposed to spy on them now?

Cuba? (1)

LunarEffect (1309467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067945)

The country the US is actually trying to warm up with? oO"
Why now and not sooner?

The embargo in Iran is a joke (5, Informative)

cesc (121088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068001)

I don't know about the other four countries but last summer I was in Iran and USA brands were ubiquitous. For example all the restaurants had either Coca Cola or Pepsi which seem to be the locals' favorite drink. "Bottled in Iran with license from Coca Cola" read the cans, in plain English. And they were less than 50c!

I was clearly on the minority when drinking the local traditional soda, dugh, made with yogurt and mint.

Some locals take offense if asked about the embargo. It hurts their national feelings. "we've been under embargo for generations and we know how to get around it".

Friends who hadn't been to Iran for several years missed the old traditional Persian cola brands. Apparently Persicola and Zam Zam tasted much better than the USA brands. But locals didn't remember when the change had happened.

Similarly local olive and olive oil brands had been replaced with European counterparts. Last news I hear from Iran is that some clerics are getting around the import tariffs and illegally importing cheap Malaysian fruits which are driving local farmers to bankruptcy.

A few years ago the supreme leader abolished an article in the constitution which prevented the government from privatizing core state services. Now Ahmadinejad is eliminating the subsidies for bread, electricity, and gas.

Recently the Iranian government sounds more like the Bush neocon administration than a revolutionary socialist one.

I know that the embargo of Internet services are different to get around from the embargo of physical goods, but many people in Iran already use a VPN and browse with a foreign IP, to get pass the Iranian censorship.

Re:The embargo in Iran is a joke (1)

monsterinlaw (1560935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068199)

It shows the depth of the stupidity of those who make such decisions. I'm an Iranian and I call tell you that non-democratic regimes like the Iranian government try to isolate their people from the outside world. Thus what M$ does is exactly what dictatorships like Iran and Syria want. Luckily in Iran Yahoo! messenger is way more popular than M$N messenger.

Re:The embargo in Iran is a joke (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068539)

Yeah---Microsoft blocks certain IPs from authoritarian countries, whereas the great crusaders like Yahoo! merely bend to their will.

Isn't there a middle ground?

Revenue Rules (4, Interesting)

nx6310 (1150553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068019)

As an individual who currently resides in Syria, I find this simply absurd, but the reason isn't simply Embargoes, it happens to be most embargoed countries do not implement copyright laws pertaining to US (and most non-US) company products. Some might have the spiteful reaction, 'well then they shouldn't be provided any services', while the reason for these companies not getting any copyright rights, is the fact they don't have official representation in these countries for the same reason the embargoes exist, politics.

This brings us to the main reason some services have been denied to the aforementioned countries, Revenue, now because nationals (and residents) of these countries do not abide by global copyright laws, almost all services provided to these countries are either the free in nature, or in the case of non-online products (e.g Windows XP) piracy is the norm.

So as some of you mentioned, its all about politics, what we here see, is a sign that the political status of these countries as embargoed countries, won't be changing any time soon. And the reason is simply, Revenue.

Not the first time? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068063)

This isn't the first time the US Trade Embargo has had questionable outcomes.

Am I the only one who expected a flashback to one of Peter Griffin's past foibles?

Cutting access to content pleases dictators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068125)

And Obama's seriously dropped Bush's emphasis on democratization.

After all, it's Democrats that have a history of being soft on dictators, not Republicans. Think this is wrong? Think this is flamebait?

Get over it. The facts are there.

Guess who installed Robert Mugabe into power [nysun.com] .

Guess which party wants to normalize relations with Cuba?

Guess which party is not only soft on Venezuelan thug Chavez, but also had the aforementioned buffoon of an ex-President [usnews.com] sign off on the election fraud that kept him in power.

Republican results? Marcos out of power. Noriega out of power. Saddam out of power.

My experience in Cuba (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068277)

Most Cubans I've met use Yahoo (for e-mail at least, I don't know about IMs). From what I've seen, this is more likely to affect vacationing Canadians and Europeans than Cubans.

Idiots (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068291)

The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing in our government.

Letting these countries use IM would seem to be an excellent way for our intelligence services to keep tabs on their communications (assuming they're stupid enough to use a system based in the USA).

You can't "promote democracy" in a foreign country (1)

melted (227442) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068293)

>> US-based Syrian political activist George Ajjan created
>> a web site promoting democracy in Syria, only to find
>> GoDaddy blocked anyone inside Syria from seeing it

Give me a single example when a country became democratic (long term) due to the US "promoting" democracy there. You can't do it. Democracy by definition has to come from the "demos" - the people. For it to stick, democracy has to be the point where society achieves its lowest potential energy state, so to speak.

Re:You can't "promote democracy" in a foreign coun (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068561)

Japan, West Germany.

I'm mentioning that so as to point out that the situation in both of those countries was radically different from what we're looking at now.

Re:You can't "promote democracy" in a foreign coun (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068569)

I don't really disagree with your main point, but do you think that publishing information and opinions about how democracy might change things in Syria (in a language Syrians can read...) would somehow be completely pointless in getting people to act or think differently?

Where did they get Windows and Live Messenger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068319)

Hi
I find it strange that it is decided to apply embargo to users who are using MS Windows or MS Live Messenger?
Are those users all running the web based version of Live Messenger, in a non-IE browser on a non-Windows machine? If not, I understand that by far not all copies of MS software in those countries (even more than elsewhere) are legal but I would doubt that all of them are illegal, which is an indicator that the embargo is not enforced in the first place. So why block users from using software and services that they paid for and that a US company is selling in those countries?
If MS software is officially not available in the countries mentioned in TFA, then please discard my comment.
-Sha-

Don't think so (5, Interesting)

Lawand (1345185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068415)

I don't think that MS really wants to lose tons of users, because I am from Syria and switching the country in my profile re-granted my access to the Messenger service.

Microsoft != Obama (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068499)

Why now, since this flies in the face of the Obama administration's softening stance on Cuba?

Because Microsoft is not the Obama Administration! If Microsoft is ordered by the federal government to open Messenger to Cuba, then we can complain. But until then, the two are not (at least officially) in conflict with one another. If Microsoft sees reason to deny Messenger service to Cuba, then they can. It's Microsoft's product; there's no good reason that I can see for why they cannot do this.

Perhaps I'm too cynical, but... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068507)

It seems to me that allowing a combination of big business and government to develop and implement foreign policy is about as sane and responsible as letting a convicted pedophile babysit your kids.

I wish they would block it here too... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068571)

...so people would stop to force me to use that crappy thing to communicate with them. (Other than the phone, going over, writing a letter, drawing a giant cloud-message in the sky, or hiding a secret message in a 2000 year old book.)

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