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We're Staying In China, Says Microsoft

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the swinging-the-ethics-bat dept.

Businesses 249

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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249 comments

The Best Kind of News (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 4 years ago | (#31625176)

Normally the news likes to hand you a big fat moral or ethical dilemma when you find out that your favorite product is made by Big Evil. But this is the best kind of news for me! The kind that further reaffirms my views on my most hated companies!

Terrible news for the Chinese. Great news for my Down with Microsoft agenda! When you're chewing on life's gristle don't grumble, give a whistle!

Re:The Best Kind of News (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#31625272)

I think Microsoft probably follows Commodore's Jack Tramiel policy: "Business is war," and in war anything is acceptable. Therefore they would view Google's leaving China as a victory, even if it means going-to-bed with the Chinese Socialist government.

Re:The Best Kind of News (3, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#31625560)

Since when is china's government socialist? It is much closer to feudalism for the vast majority of china.

Re:The Best Kind of News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625640)

Funny though, you have a problem with Microsoft because they behave as a Capitalist company and therefore "go to bed" with a "socialist" government while you think Google has made the good choice in behaving socially by only working in capitalist countries....

Re:The Best Kind of News (-1, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | about 4 years ago | (#31625968)

I think Microsoft probably follows Commodore's Jack Tramiel policy: "Business is war," and in war anything is acceptable. Therefore they would view Google's leaving China as a victory, even if it means going-to-bed with the Chinese Socialist government.

Just like Google thinks that business is war too, then. They weren't going anywhere in China and decided it was too much trouble staying there. Remember that Google pretty much stopped gaining market share from Baidu. They did the next best thing - make it a PR campaign [techcrunch.com] and try to gain love in western countries. Why do you think they're only bitching at China in English blogs and are now blaming Bing for staying in China? It's all PR.

The need the numbers for "market share" (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 years ago | (#31625772)

By this time next week they'll be claiming "Market share for Bing jumped by 19%.in the last month".

Conflicted! (4, Interesting)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 4 years ago | (#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:Conflicted! (5, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 4 years ago | (#31625496)

"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.

Re:Conflicted! (3, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 4 years ago | (#31625630)

Bingo. They only discovered that they had principles after they got publicly bitch-slapped all over the trailer park. Some credit is due for them walking out rather than crawling back for another beating, hoping they could change China if they just loved them enough, but they should never have started dating them in the first place.

Re:Conflicted! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#31626074)

Sorry but admiring Google for no longer censoring is like admiring someone for no longer beating their child.

You don't admire someone who ceases to do something bad.

But you do encourage them.

Re:Conflicted! (5, Insightful)

pherthyl (445706) | about 4 years ago | (#31626302)

>> Sorry but admiring Google for no longer censoring is like admiring someone for no longer beating their child.

That's not a good analogy at all. Much better would be to say "Admiring Google for no longer censoring is like admiring the one person that stopped beating their child, while everyone else continues to do so."

We might not actually admire them, since we don't personally do business in China, so we can feel morally superior, but amongst their peers Google is doing an admirable thing.

Re:Conflicted! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31626398)

They initially did it because they thought they could change the system from the inside far better than they could from the outside. They may have been naive, but not evil.

How good of them. (4, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 4 years ago | (#31625220)

It's always nice to see companies following local laws. [wikipedia.org]

Re:How good of them. (2, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#31625288)

Selling someone computers is a little less reckless than actually building the gas chamber.

If they censor results, search engines are doing China’s dirty work for it.

Re:How good of them. (1)

j35ter (895427) | about 4 years ago | (#31625388)

Selling someone computers is a little less reckless than actually building the gas chamber.

If they censor results, search engines are doing China’s dirty work for it.

Yes, except that today gas chambers will be controlled by computers.

Also Bing *will continue* to do China's dirty work!

Re:How good of them. (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#31625442)

Sure, but building the computer still isn’t as reckless as writing the software that turns on the gas.

My point is, yes IBM sold computers to the Third Reich. They may be liable to some degree for what the Third Reich used those computers for... that’s debatable. However it’s a whole different ballgame for Bing to censor Chinese search results for the Chinese government. That’s designing the computer, writing the software, and wiring it up to the gas chamber... except that censorship is wholly incomparable to genocide and I really don’t like that analogy.

Re:How good of them. (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 4 years ago | (#31625704)

Better to be alive but a slave instead of free and dead?

Re:How good of them. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31626030)

Better to be alive but a slave instead of free and dead?

Each country has their own laws and many are considered 'odd' or 'repressing'

I live in Canada. People tell me all the time how I'm so hard done by because of the taxes and the limits of our free economy compared to the US. I don't care. My father lives in the US and loves it - he'll never come back to Canada. I spent some time there, and will never go back other than for a vacation. He just had an $80, 000 operation and I asked him how he felt that it would have been $0 in Canada, other than your taxes. Didn't say a word. Everyone loves not paying taxes until you need a service that you willingly voted against, or decided to stop (like car, house, health insurance).

I like the way my country is setup. Don't believe everything you see on TV. I watched the NBC coverage of the Olympics in Vancouver and couldn't believe how much BS was being spread about Canada. They are talking about all our customs, etc, Brian Williams was a fucking moron (US Brian Williams, not CTV Brian). He stopped a few NEWFIES on the street and that is where he got most of his information. WTF! Newfies are very different from the rest of the Canadians. And no, we don't live in Igloos! And I don't know Jill or Jack from Canada!!

We see everything about how China jails protesters and censors information. Well, in Canada, all we see about the States is how there is another gun murder, how the white cops beat black people, and how stupid Bush was. Some may be true. All some people see about Canada is how we keep pepper spraying our protesters.

Some of the most interesting perspectives in life come from watching another country's news about your own. Next time you travel somewhere, pick up their news and compare it to your local station for the same events. There will be a slant, either with the wording, omissions, or the omission or inclusion of entire stories. Just because most of it comes from AP or Reuters, doesn't mean it won't be slanted.

Now, I'm not trying to dismiss China - we can all agree it is on an entirely different level, but come on, for the PEOPLE that live there, they don't see it as that bad.

Re:How good of them. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#31626092)

Also Bing *will continue* to do China's dirty work!

Start counting down to Microsoft's pro-human rights marketing campaign.

Re:How good of them. (2, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | about 4 years ago | (#31625792)

So if I type "child porn" into the Google image search, should it return 8-year-olds giving blowjobs?

We censor things here too, we just draw the line differently. That doesn't make it right to draw the line somewhere else, but before you go off on Google, you should really think about what it means for a company to just violate any law they don't care for.

Re:How good of them. (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 4 years ago | (#31625808)

I thought that "Operation Aurora" [wikipedia.org] proved that the Chinese government wasn't satisfied with censorship; they want to use every company as a means of tracking down undesirable members of society. Microsoft, through their recent statements, seems to be implicitly accepting China's methods and goals.

Oh, and IBM didn't build gas chambers. They (quoting Wikipedia, quoting "IBM and the Holocaust", by Edwin Black) "[helped] the Nazis organize and coordinate their efforts toward gathering and organizing all available information about their victims." They built the infrastructure the Third Reich wanted, capable of tracking millions of people, and as a result were quite instrumental in the ensuing holocaust.

You can read more about the book here [ibmandtheholocaust.com] and here. [cnet.com]

Re:How good of them. (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | about 4 years ago | (#31626244)

Selling someone computers is a little less reckless than actually building the gas chamber.

If they censor results, search engines are doing China’s dirty work for it.

I'm not sure if I'm following on from a Godwin, but hey.... you've got to remember this was 70 years ago and computing wasn't nearly as mature as it is today.

IBM knew full well what they were doing and at the time, the argument "if we don't do it someone else will" simply didn't hold water - there wasn't anyone else who had the technology to provide the kind of data processing equipment the Nazis wanted.

Re:How good of them. (1)

santax (1541065) | about 4 years ago | (#31625348)

I have read the book 'IBM and the holocaust', now it is a long time ago, but IBM made the Nazi's pretty efficient in knowing where the (in their eyes) 'bad elements' lived. Interesting read for anyone interested in wo2 and ethics in doing business. About MS, I am not surprised. China is big market and there is a lot of money to be made. Is it ethical? Well is it ethical to do business with the US after the iraq WMD-lies? Or with Europe for all I care for their involvement in Afghanistan? At the end of the day, you can't do business with any government if you care the least bit about ethics.

Re:How good of them. (0, Redundant)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 years ago | (#31625672)

but IBM made the Nazi's pretty efficient

What was this Nazi's? Was it like Macy's or Kohl's, only in Nazi Germany?

Re:How good of them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625790)

Yes, because democracies and totalitarian dictatorships are morally identical. Grow up.

Re:How good of them. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625854)

Yes, the USA has great ethical values... military personal raping 14 yo girls in Iraq (after invading them with pure lies to steal their oil) and then killing her in front of her parents... Horay for your so called democratie. You live in a totalitarion state and are to brainwashed to even see it anymore. At least the Chinese commit the murders in their own borders. Ignorant narcissistic fool.

Re:How good of them. (3, Informative)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | about 4 years ago | (#31625604)

It's always nice to see companies following local laws.

Examples of immoral behavior aside, yes it is.
If a country has say, a ban on advertising cigarettes to children, then that's a perfectly sane thing to comply with.
If a country doesn't have the draconian copyright laws the US has, refusing to enforce them there is perfectly sane as well.

OTOH, assisting in silencing political speech is hardly moral. If only there was some universal minimum standard for what's okay and what's not...

Oh right.. there is: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights [un.org]. (Which didn't exist in the 1930's, although I don't feel that excuses IBM - considering the Allies penalized the German corporations who assisted the Holocaust)
And from that declaration, it's entirely clear-cut the first two examples are fine, and the third isn't okay. While we all know that China doesn't give a damn about the UDHR, it doesn't change the fact that they've ratified it (and in fact, Nationalist China was involved in drafting it). They can't legitimately complain about 'cultural bias' or respecting their system or whatever.

It's a matter of holding them to their own words. And holding our corporations responsible to follow at least those basic rights.

Re:How good of them. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 4 years ago | (#31625636)

Seems kind of thin,
It happened after the Nazi's took over IBM German subsidiary. Even the reference that they got technology and help from the Polish offices doesn't sound that damming since Germany had already INVADED Poland at the time. I doubt that IBM had any real control over those offices at the time it happened.

IBM does have a long history of being the meanest nastiest competitor on the planet but I really think trying to blame them for the Holocaust is pretty unfounded.

The oddest historical hookup I remember how well Ford worked with pre WWII USSR they did all sorts of deals with Stalin and company. Which if you think about it should really make your head hurt.

We're Staying with my Mom, Says Cmdr Taco (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625224)

Good thing my "woman" is a "real doll"

Re:We're Staying with my Mom, Says Cmdr Taco (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625824)

hahahaha this actually made me laugh. so unexpected. awesome. crass and immature, yeah, but certainly unexpected

The true motives (4, Funny)

e2d2 (115622) | about 4 years ago | (#31625238)

And now we see Google's true motivation. They had this much ->.- market share in China, so they pull out due to Moral reasons and toss the grenade over the fence to Microsoft. Microsoft, being the dip shits they are, catch the grenade and run for the end zone in their Heisman pose.

Re:The true motives (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 4 years ago | (#31625344)

Google has about 40% of a netizen count of more than 320 million, thats not bad at all. In comparison Yahoo/Bing has 1,5% and 0,09% respectivly. Also lets not forget the biggest use of Bada is listening to pirated music, not search.

Re:The true motives (1)

e2d2 (115622) | about 4 years ago | (#31625646)

I did embellish I admit but the latest figures I could get were from a Google blog in March of 09 (via IResearch) and put them at 25%:

http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2009/03/googles-market-share-in-your-country.html [blogspot.com]

http://www.search-engine-feng-shui.com/parts-de-marche/ [search-eng...g-shui.com] (in French)

Others have reported 30%-40% but I have yet to see any clear figures. If anyone has some post them, I'm kind of curious now.

Re:The true motives (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 4 years ago | (#31625436)

Or MS say well we are censoring results for you now about those pirates i'me shure theres some zoning laws you can use to have their premises buldozed

That's ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625240)

No one likes microsoft anyway.

Torn (4, Insightful)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 4 years ago | (#31625246)

I'm kind of torn by this whole China/Google/Microsoft thing. While I'm not a fan of the Chinese government, who are we to say what they should and shouldn't allow? 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.

Re:Torn (3, Insightful)

Elros (735454) | about 4 years ago | (#31625330)

No, we wouldn't. That said, we have plenty of commonly used services hosted outside the US for very similar reasons. To remain in China and refuse to sensor results would be illegal. To remain in China and continue to sensor results would be against their ethics. Thus, they followed the remaining option: Leave China.

Re:Torn (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | about 4 years ago | (#31625378)

So I take it you don't view censorship as a violation of human rights?

Re:Torn (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 4 years ago | (#31625744)

What if the people really do want censorship then? I mean, maybe there are people who think you shouldn't be able to see sex on tv, right?

Re:Torn (3, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | about 4 years ago | (#31625848)

What if the people really do want to kill all ethnic minorities? I mean, there are people who think all the Hispanics need to get out of the United States, right?

Re:Torn (2, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 4 years ago | (#31625414)

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:Torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625466)

im not a scholar on chinese governing.. but on the other side of this big debate where we have to put a good face on china, and say that they are protecting their citizens and whatnot by doing all this.. i just find that to be unbelievable.. i just cannot imagine that the men at the top in the chinese gov'nt are doing everything they're doing out of the kindness of their hearts for their citizens. anyway the pressure should be on companies such as microsoft now, that take an unofficial pro-censorship stance to be apart of the market over there, instead of directly at the govnt. in the end i see this big thing going one of two ways, either successfully overpowering the govnt's stance.. or effectively creating a china wide LAN.

Re:Torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625610)

who are we to say what they should and shouldn't allow?

The people, a collection of humans. Human rights go above any "rights" a government claims. All other countries in the world have a say as well, since china signed the declaration of human rights, and we should hold them to that contract.

Would we want a Chinese company to come into our country and tell our government what to do?

Yes, very much, if they do so defending our human rights.

While I've seen a great deal of discussion about human rights surrounding these stories, I've seen precious little about sovereignty.

Does sovereignty allow a country to violate any human right as it sees fit?

Human rights are basic "moral rights", and go above all contracts, politics and sovereignty as far as I'm concerned. Anyone defending them is "morally correct" almost automatically (as long as defending them does not violate them)

Re:Torn (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

accessbob (962147) | about 4 years ago | (#31625882)

That would depend on whether you are prepared to recognize the sovereignty of totalitiarian dictatorships that torture and murder their own people. Dictators (and their cronies) have no right to say what may happen in their own country, let alone anyone else's. They lose those rights the moment they seize power. All Microsoft is doing is helping the Chinse dictatorship to oppress their own people. For the religious amongst us, think Judas and the money.

Re:Torn (3, Interesting)

Angst Badger (8636) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Torn (1)

trboyden (465969) | about 4 years ago | (#31626060)

Sovereignty isn't a right. A country is only as sovereign as their political, economic, and military power enables them to be. If Google's actions puts a crack in the Great Wall, so be it. However, I don't think Google is bringing down China any time soon.

Re:Torn (2, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | about 4 years ago | (#31626108)

I'm kind of torn by this whole China/Google/Microsoft thing. While I'm not a fan of the Chinese government, who are we to say what they should and shouldn't allow?

Why shouldn't we? It's called morals. There are things that nobody should allow one group of people to do to others. If one person beats another, are you saying no one should have the right to tell them that it's wrong? The Chinese government completely crosses the line in my book with respect to how they treat their citizens.

Would we want a Chinese company to come into our country and tell our government what to do?

Sure. It's always within their power to kick that company out. Which is just why China is doing to Google. So why shouldn't Google speak up?

While I've seen a great deal of discussion about human rights surrounding these stories, I've seen precious little about sovereignty.

Just because you're in power doesn't mean you can do whatever you want to the people you control. Or people in other countries for that matter. That would almost invariably lead to absolutism -- as the Chinese currently have. Simple formula: human rights > sovereignty, no matter who you are. Thing is, no one has the balls/power to stand up to them, so they can do whatever they want. All superpowers rise that way.

MS Staying in CN? (1, Funny)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 4 years ago | (#31625282)

Gee, what a surprise. That was hard to predict. Not.

Re:MS Staying in CN? (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | about 4 years ago | (#31625324)

Exactly! I am like, so astonished! Plus, who would make the 360?

Re:MS Staying in CN? (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 4 years ago | (#31626238)

Exactly - and all the PCs that run Windows.

What does China make for Google?

Phones that run Android, a peripheral part of their business, i.e., not much.

MS is hip deep in China. I would expect MS to eventually provide the Chinese Govt a special version of BING for them...

RS

A Good Thing? (4, Funny)

corruptblitz (1486729) | about 4 years ago | (#31625306)

Maybe now that the people of China only have M$ as a search giant to choose from, people will flee and the regime will collapse so democracy can win again!

Getting a halo can go to your head (2, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | about 4 years ago | (#31625342)

After years of playing ball with China, Google has an epiphany and decides it's evil. Now they condemn anybody else who hasn't come to the same conclusion on their schedule.

Re:Getting a halo can go to your head (4, Insightful)

tcr (39109) | about 4 years ago | (#31625720)

That's a pretty rigid way of looking at it.
 
Various sources have reported that they were never comfortable operating in China. One faction argued that they would do more good by being there than boycotting China. That argument prevailed for a while, but events overtook, and another faction got their way - hence the pullout. It isn't an Apple-style autocracy.
 

Good for Microsoft (1)

Orga (1720130) | about 4 years ago | (#31625364)

Resist the google goodie goodies and go make our government some of those dollars back in form of taxes from profits of chinese companies.

Different companies (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 4 years ago | (#31625370)

Different companies have a vastly different presence in foreign companies, especially in regards to products. Microsoft sells software products straight-out, while Google provides services which generates revenue via advertising. I can see why it would be an entirely different decision for the two companies. I think Bing is just a minor footnote in all this anyway. It's market presence in China can't be very large, especially since it is so new.

Microsoft might go along with China's requirements with Bing just to keep a good relationship so China will help combat piracy of Microsoft's products, etc. Those a drastically different considerations than for Google.

Oh, and at some point the economy of the US needs to be considered by US companies. Every cent spent in China buying a US product is needed at this time.

Re:Different companies (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 4 years ago | (#31625912)

Microsoft sells software products straight-out, while Google provides services which generates revenue via advertising.

One word retort:

Bing!

Elaboration:

Microsoft has desperately been trying to break into advertising, to be where Google is. Microsoft knows they have peaked so they have been trying to push software rentals ("subscriptions") and cloud computing, which any sentient being crunching the numbers will reject, and they have been trying to get into the search engine and advertising business, first with MSN, then MSNBC, and now they've bought another search engine technology and called it Bing! Although to you and me Bing! would be a huge success, but compared to Google, the search engine business is pennies to Microsoft and they consider it critical, because much like a dog, with Microsoft it is not in the having, but in the getting. Microsoft wants to break into advertising (and thus search engines) so that they can at least plateau, if not grow again. Bing is Microsoft's answer to Google, and no, Microsoft is not all about "selling software products straight-out," or at least they do not wish to be perceived as such.

Sergey speak with forked tongue (0, Flamebait)

firstprimate (1776472) | about 4 years ago | (#31625400)

Really Google? How about human rights and free speech abuses abuses in Israel, Iraq, Zimbabwe or, most importantly <insert favourite cause here>.

Re:Sergey speak with forked tongue (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#31625706)

There is an important difference between those causes and China's censorship from Google's perspective, namely that China's censorship requires active participation from Google. There is a difference between not actively working to prevent oppression and actively supporting it. It's much safer, ethically speaking, to say 'we will not participate in this' than to say 'you should not do this'. Google is refusing to participate in censorship in China, not preventing China from censoring.

Re:Sergey speak with forked tongue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625726)

They only refuse to HELP violating human rights (by censoring search results). They do not refuse to offer their services people living in countries that violate human rights.

Big difference.

Re:Sergey speak with forked tongue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625774)

Does he still take on $1 salary? How on earth does he manage to live on that? Given company profits are not the prime directive, maybe he should increase to a level more in fitting with his position as a Glorious CEO, Saviour of Humanity.

Re:Sergey speak with forked tongue (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 years ago | (#31626428)

Please explain to us how Google has assisted in the abuse of free speech in Iraq.

Have you been to Iraq?

Birds of a feather... (2, Funny)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 4 years ago | (#31625458)

Birds of a feather flock together.

This will be interesting seeing 2 back-stabbers "playing nice" but who will stab the other first.

I think most people agree, including US government (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 4 years ago | (#31625462)

Siding with China in times when the US is just waiting for anything to lambast China for this is not a smart move of Microsoft. The US has slowly started to realize China is the lawnmower and US is the grass unless something is done, especially know when the brain drain is starting to go towards China, leaving the US with nothing at all, neither patents nor manufacturing or talent.

The problem for Microsoft is that a whitdrawal would give open source unprecedented foothold. No matter how they turn they end up with problems at their hands. I dont think that was the goal of Google but if it plays out this way it sure tells being "the good guy" can pay out in the long run.

Just look at this article:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/24/technology/china_google_hearing/index.htm [cnn.com]

Re:I think most people agree, including US governm (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 4 years ago | (#31625836)

Brain drain? What are you talking about? Maybe Chinese citizens are apt to go back to China with their new scholarship, but I do see many Western people getting their degree and becoming Chinese citizens. Our system here isn't perfect, but its much more preferable to me than Chinas.

Monopolism over anthropology (-1, Flamebait)

bl8n8r (649187) | about 4 years ago | (#31625478)

As soon as google is out, bing will move in. Bill Gates wants to be seen as some kind of third world savior but in the end, he's just another capitalist with money to burn. Nevermind the human rights violations who Google, Dell and others are standing up against. To microsoft, it's *only* about money and always has been and I'm not surprised.

Re:Monopolism over anthropology (4, Insightful)

asdf7890 (1518587) | about 4 years ago | (#31625928)

Bill Gates wants to be seen as some kind of third world savior but in the end, he's just another capitalist with money to burn.

You are aware that Bill has retired from all but a non-exec position aren't you? He has surprisingly little say in what MS do these days.

It does not make it evil (1)

greengarden (1036194) | about 4 years ago | (#31625542)

Microsoft staying in China or not will make no difference to the political situation in China. Furthermore, I wish companies would stay away from politics altogether: no contributions to parties, no statements about how good or bad is a local government. Follow the local laws, and leave politics to the country's citizens.

Just because Microsoft writes bad software and it is a monopoly, it does not mean that all it does is evil. I think that Google's move was the result of many issues that just make doing business there too hard. This includes tarnishing the Google brand by exposing itself to criticism of 'collaborating' with a totalitarian regime, but the gmail hacking was also a factor.

Paul Casal
jBilling [jbilling.com] Open Source Billing

Re:It does not make it evil (2, Insightful)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | about 4 years ago | (#31626020)

Absolutely! Just follow the examples of IBM [wikipedia.org], Standard Oil [wikipedia.org], Ford Motors [wikipedia.org] or perhaps a telco or two [wikipedia.org]. Nothing seems as erection inducing for the CEOs and "free marketers" of all stripes as profits from being able to supply both your side and the enemy's in a war, surely. Because greed and profit is all that counts in this universe, no?

Did Anyone Expect Anything Else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625574)

Did anyone honestly expect anything else of Microsoft? Sure, I hope other companies will follow suit but I don't expect any of them to be direct competitors with Google. The allure of a Google-free environment is just too tempting to resist.

It won't come cheap for Microsoft (2, Interesting)

C_Kode (102755) | about 4 years ago | (#31625620)

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.

Maybe they won't censor Chinese citizens (3, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | about 4 years ago | (#31625626)

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.

Is Brin serious? (3, Insightful)

cOldhandle (1555485) | about 4 years ago | (#31625632)

'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.'

I find this absolutely hilarious coming from Brin, pretending Google is some sort of moral authority now that they've pulled out of China due to the recent incident, having sold out to the Chinese government for many years previously providing services customized according to the state to oppress its citizens and restrict their access to news and information!

Hypocrisy on law, courtesy of offshoring. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about 4 years ago | (#31625686)

Microsoft rejected Brin's critique, saying it would continue to obey local laws on censorship in China."

Interesting how it's fine to obey the law to the letter in China(and about any other offshoring destination), but find every way to get around obeying it in the US.

Let's do the math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31625698)

With 2 bullion people, even at the expected 99.9% piracy, that's a lot of money.

They seem happy to break laws everywhere else... (1)

TiberiusMonkey (1603977) | about 4 years ago | (#31625712)

...but in China they stick to them? I mean, I know I'm not really pointing out anything new or deep here, but Microsoft seems to constantly come up with new ways to make me shake my head.

"Obeying the law" =/= "Doing the Right Thing" (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#31626088)

This is true in the U.S. and in China. If the government or the law is bad, then it is not right to respect the law.

Law and order is the most important and critical part of civilization. But when it is used to harm people, it is no longer a supporting or contributing part of civilization and serves to undermine civilization.

Microsoft, you cannot hide behind "following the law" in this case. You don't always follow the law. You routinely manipulate and break the laws of the U.S. and of other nations. You also see fit "buy" laws that serve your own interests. "Following the law" can only be read as a convenient excuse from Microsoft.

hypocrisy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31626204)

The US just passed national healthcare which permits the Fed Gov to reach into our medical records, our bank accounts, meddle with our health choices, and mandate purchase of services by all citizens on penalty of fines and-or imprisonment. Are we really going to chastise the Chinese for a little censorship? At the rate the federal gov is nationalizing businesses and services, and seizing power, China will be more open, free, and financially solvent in a decade. Don't think this is true? On what authority does the President have the right to "shut off the internet"? If he was seeking authority to "shut off the press" what would you say? Think about it. WAKE UP you lazy ignorant sheep or you will soon have the despotism you so richly deserve.

Question: What business is it of the Fed Government whether you use a tanning bed? Should people from Minnesota get a federal tanning bed waiver to avoid 3rd degree sunburns on Spring break? Why should a representative from Texas or California be deciding this for people living in Wisconsin? We had independent states for a reason, and you 'big fed gov will solve all my problems' types are destroying liberty and individualism. You can't just manage yourself, your family, or your State, you have to IMPOSE your will on EVERYONE. I'd much rather have my speech censored than my medical decisions made by faceless and unaccountable (to me) Washington bureaucrats. I don't get to vote in the other 49 states. They do NOT represent me!

+1 for Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31626236)

Their stance takes on even greater meaning in the face of their competition being spineless, unethical slime. Like that's a big surprise to anybody who's paid any attention to Microsoft's business practices wile not partaking of the Kool-Aid.

To play devil's advocate (1)

McBeer (714119) | about 4 years ago | (#31626370)

Microsoft employs a lot more Chinese developers then Google (or most anybody for that matter). MS pays those developers about twice as much as other tech companies and 10 times as much as the average labor in the area. Perhaps they are doing more good by spurring economic development in china. That development leads to more people being able to have internet access. More people will see the censorship and really no filter can prevent everything from getting through.
 
I suppose they could still employ people in China and just not offer their software there anymore, but that seems like a poor way to conduct business given a lot of the Chinese employees work on China specific stuff

How we /.ers imagine it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31626376)

I'm pretty sure this is what a lot of us are picturing.

Brin [sitting at a conference table, looking at the camera uncomfortably]: "You know, we said we wouldn't be evil, but then we were a little evil. But we didn't like it. So we're going to try being less evil again. That seems better."

Ballmer [smoking a cigar, in bed with Satan]: "What's that? Dominate China in Google's absence by cooperating with tyranny? Hahahaha! What's the DOWNside!?"

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