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Bill Gates Defends Google's Censorship In China

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the do-business-nicely-please dept.

Microsoft 511

worb writes "At the World Economic Forum today, Bill Gates defended Google's actions in China and told delegates that the internet 'is contributing to Chinese political engagement' as 'access to the outside world is preventing more censorship'. There was no reason for technology companies not to do business in China, he argued."

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Exactly (2, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584462)

Bill Gates wouldn't deny software licenses to The Mob, for example. Commerce should be free and open.

Re:Exactly (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584567)

You sound like you're trolling, but Free Software stands by this principle too.

The GNU GPL offers _ALL_ people freedom to run GPL licensed software. It doesn't exclude military contractors, Chinese citizens, Burmese citizens, neo-Nazi organisations, etc., that many "Freeware" licenses forbid use of their software to.

Technology is not an effective political weapon except en-masse. The idea of blockading all trade with China to punish its government for not following enlightened Western ideals is pretty much unworkable. The best hope for China is to let its citizens find out about the West and how much better it is (in our opinion) for themselves. That's not going to happen if we try and block these citizens at every step so we can smugly satisfy ourselves that we're not connected to the Chinese government's evil.

Re:Exactly (5, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584703)

Which reminds me. If Democracy is supposed to be such a good thing - and any government defying its principles is deficient, if not questionably moral - then why does the same not hold true for corporations? Why are they run by charismatic autocrats, backed by semi-secretive cabals?

CEOs are just little Maoist dictators at heart. They share more with the reality of the Chinese rulers than they do with you, me or Thomas Paine.

Re:Exactly (2, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584900)

I take offense to that. One of my relatives, specifically second-cousin, is a CEO, and she is one of the better people out there.

Re:Exactly (5, Informative)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585006)

Because people are free to be associated with corporations or to not be associated. In the U.S., I can start an organization in which I am dictator, king, deity, etc. But no one has to be in it, and generally the greatest consequence of disobeying me will be removal from my organization. Corporations don't have to be democratic because being an employee or customer of one is optional.

Re:Exactly (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585047)

I'm asking why it is not better.

There is a fundamental disconnect when organizations that behave dictatorially are given status as virtual persons under the laws of ostensible democracies.

Re:Exactly (2, Insightful)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585026)


Which reminds me. If Democracy is supposed to be such a good thing - and any government defying its principles is deficient, if not questionably moral - then why does the same not hold true for corporations? Why are they run by charismatic autocrats, backed by semi-secretive cabals?


All publicly traded corporations are a democracy. They are reponsible to their shareholders, the same way a government is responsible to their voters. The only difference is that it isn't a simple matter of one shareholder, one vote. It's more like the system of electoral colleges in the US. One state can have a larger interest than another.

A private enterpreneurship is more like a dictatorship, where the leader is only responsible to themselves, and answeres to no one.

Re:Exactly (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584748)

At the very end of TFA, they leave us with these words from Mr. Gates
Software piracy is a problem that will likely be solved over time, because as Chinese-made technology evolves, the country's respect for intellectual property rights will improve, he added.

"We are always upset that they aren't paying us for our products, but we're not going to pick up and go home," Mr Gates said.
So... Gates can't really deny the Chinese software licenses... they aren't asking.

Gates knows that any business that wants to be part of the future, needs to be involved in China and India. That's 1/3rd of the worlds population. Bill Gates and the boys at Google aren't stupid.

Re:Exactly (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584898)

"We are always upset that they aren't paying us for our products, but we're not going to pick up and go home," Mr Gates said.

So he's making all the idiots who pay full price for the software subsidize this oppressive government! OUCH! One more big reason to move to F/OSS.

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585042)

This would be pretty good excuse to start using pirated MS software everywhere, if only that software was any good.

Thanks Google for losing the moral high ground (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584754)

A large reason people allowed Google to get as big and powerful as the were (as opposed to MSFT Passport, etc) is that people trusted Google.


By undermining our trust, this re-opened the game for Microsoft.


Bill, if you want to win the Internet (at least in the western world) - just uncensor China - and you will have stolen the moral high ground from Google. I'd switch. Your search results are good enough; and if it weren't that I mistrust Microsoft so much today I probably wouldn't be using Google.

Bill Gates defends Google: End of world at 10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584466)

n/t

Defends _Googles_ actions? (5, Insightful)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584476)

Googles actions were the same as his own, weren't they? So he defended himself aswell.

Re:Defends _Googles_ actions? (5, Informative)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584820)

Everyone seems to be a bit confused about this. Google (and I assume MSN and Yahoo!) are only censoring google.cn results. Google.com is unfiltered, assuming you can get to it from China, but Google has no part in filtering that out. The google.cn servers are IN CHINA. So Google has two choices, filter, or have their servers promptly shutdown. This is about improving service to China, and to do that, they have to censor google.cn. There is no choice here, if there is going to be a local, accessible google, then it must be filtered. If Chinese users can get to google.com, then they can see the unfiltered results. Google even tells them on google.cn that some results are filtered. They can't do more than that.

Re:Defends _Googles_ actions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584888)

*clap clap*

You are clearly a master of deduction.

Google apologist logic 40 years earlier (3, Insightful)

trollzor (858973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584950)

Google is right to change the results of South African searchers looking for images and information about the Sharpeville massacre [google.cn] because in the end it's better for Google to be in the South African apartheid market than out of it, and they'd be out if they let them see images like this [google.com.au] . Giving them access to some information is better than none and little bits will slip through because you can't censor everything.

What about the ANC [google.com.au] you say? Well the South African government considers them terrorists so it's only really obeying the laws of South Africa to change the results [google.cn] of a search for them.

I think it's clear Google shouldn't boycott the South African government because in the end what can Google really do [anc.org.za] ? What would a boycott ever achieve [wikipedia.org] ?

Google is staying true to it's motto "Don't be evil" by making compromises that you absolutists simply don't understand.

And... (5, Funny)

Somatic (888514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584488)

...then Ballmer threw a chair at China.

Re:And... (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584561)

> ...then Ballmer threw a chair at China.

...then the Chairman of the Party pointed out that after he ordered his citizens to throw their chairs into the Yangtze River, they fucking flooded [wikipedia.org] 1.9 million peasants, and that fucking burying Google would be a cinch in comparison.

Speaking of Ballmer, I wonder if you can find the monkeyboy video on MSN search?

Re:And... (2, Funny)

jtwronski (465067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584845)

Speaking of Ballmer, I wonder if you can find the monkeyboy video on MSN search?
You sure can [msn.com]

Google just made a stunning announcement (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584491)

After learning Bill Gates was defending their actions, they've decided working in China with censorship is evil after all, and they won't be doing it. They'll be on Oprah Monday to discuss it.

I was... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584495)

I was ambivalent about whether Google's actions constituted "doing evil," but, after Gate's support, I'm sure it's evil, now.

Re:I was... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584727)

I had mixed feelings about my ambivalence, and then, eventually, I reached uncertainty. I think.

Re:I was... (1)

thaerin (937575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585020)

Evil begets evil .. at least until Ballmer "fucking kills" (TM) them.

*whew* (4, Funny)

RoadDoggFL (876257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584503)

For a second there I though Google might be a bad guy, but if Bill says they're still cool then they must still be cool.

Re:*whew* (2, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584535)

Its much more difficult to fight a battle when your not in the ring.
I see no problem at present with the major corporations' collective stance.

99.9% of chinese folks don't even consider themselves repressed, so why make it difficult for them to use the web?

Re:*whew* (1)

RoadDoggFL (876257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584602)

And that's exactly how I feel. Google's providing their services under the guidelines they've been given. I'm just saying that Bill Gates isn't really accomplishing much. Reminds me of the South Park when Jimbo(?) got the Klan supported the party they disagreed with because everybody hated them (bye-bye, Karma).

Re:*whew* (0, Redundant)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584539)

...but if Bill says they're still cool then they must still be cool.

I see we're in a Karma burning mood today.

thanks bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584517)

Having the dark prince voice his support certainly does not change my view of google for the better.

Right is not Right (5, Insightful)

Elixon (832904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584526)

Do not forget that both Google and Gates speak from the position of a BUSINESSMAN! Not as a human rights activists, citizen or politician!

So "There was no reason for technology companies not to do business in China." does not mean that It was right" but it does mean "There was no better option to earn money"...

The Right Thing can be different when viewed from different angles.

Re:Right is not Right (2, Insightful)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584611)

Of course, in his role as a human rights activist, Gates *only* gave Six Hundred Million dollars to help eradicate TB, that's all.

Re:Right is not Right (3, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584967)

If he hadn't gotten that money by exploiting an illegal monopoly, I might think that was a kinda cool thing.

Gates is a robber baron.

Re:Right is not Right (1)

anicca (819551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584612)

It is alarming how often those two are divergent yet even more so that so many can suspend their interest in one to pursue the other.

Re:Right is not Right (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584664)

Do not forget that both Google and Gates speak from the position of a BUSINESSMAN! Not as a human rights activists, citizen or politician!

Gates actually claims to be a humanitarian, and has received accolades for such. Even a knighthood from the Queen, if I remember correctly. So it is very hypocritical to try and boost his image through charity - while in another role, undermining his charity work, by supporting much worse things.

Re:Right is not Right (2, Insightful)

floorgoblin (869743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584718)

Even if this mentality is the standard practice, I think it's quite flawed and short sighted. Just because you're a businessman shouldn't mean that you are excempt from morality. To say that this is the "right decision" implies more than just "it's the best way to make money" whether that's the intention or not. However, I don't think that Google doing business in China is neccessarily immoral anyways, so in this case it might be both the best business decision and the best political decision.

Re:Right is not Right (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584831)

The Right Thing can be different when viewed from different angles.

No it cannot.

If you try to refute me I will just say that from CERTAIN angles your post is wrong, and mine is right.

You've got yourself in a bit of a paradox now, haven't you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_relativism#Cr itics_of_relativism [wikipedia.org]

Good move Bill, but... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584529)

... why didn't you do the same for MSN?

Well then... (1, Troll)

adyus (678739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584544)


Well, now that the Devil himself agreed with Google's actions, seems like the Do No Evil policy got a little fine writing under it:

"... unless it's for profit"

/sarcasm

Principles are dead. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584547)

In other news, Google announces pop-ups, floaters, and interstitial ads. No kidding.

(with serious, worried face)
Because the world has changed after 9/11. It is okay to be dicks now.

- Mik.

Error #236563 (0, Troll)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584551)

'access to the outside world is preventing more censorship'

...What?!?

No, you idiot. Access to the outside world is prompting more censorship (but less effectivenes). You fail English.

Re:Error #236563 (2, Insightful)

dbolger (161340) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584599)

I think (but could be wrong) that his point is that the more information that is going into China from the outside, the harder it is to censor -everything-, so while the amount of censoring technically is increasing, so is the chance that relevant information will get by those censors.

Re:Error #236563 (2, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584733)

so while the amount of censoring technically is increasing, so is the chance that relevant information will get by those censors.

So, what he's really saying is that Microsoft's censorship technology doesn't work properly - and therefore they misrepresented themselves in their agreement with the Chinese government. Shouldn't Microsoft be able to deliver on what they say they will? Why is their censorship software ineffective?

Re:Error #236563 (1)

Aidski (875851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584701)

Basically, what it means is that some information is better than no information. Seeing how Google's options were allow Chinese censorship or to just allow no information. So this situation is better than the "total censorship" of the service not existing at all.

Re:Error #236563 (1)

tmjr3353 (925558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584805)

Not really. As has been said before there were two options here and both of them involved censorship. If Google tries to be some kind of a "humanitarian hero" then the Chinese people lose access to all that Google has to offer -- essentially censorship in totality. If Google plays nice for the Chinese government, the citizens of China only lose out on some of what Google offers -- partial censorship. It's like telling a starving man he should reject an offer of half a sandwhich because it's not up to the full humanitarian standard of offering the whole thing.

Still wondering (5, Insightful)

Too many errors, bai (815931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584554)

The critics may decry this move, but would China be better off with no Google at all in your opinion?

Re:Still wondering (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584713)

Yes. Bad information is worse than no information. What's the point of using Google if it only mimics the government view? They would not be finding out anything new that they couldn't get from their local government propaganda agent.

When they sort out their freedom of speech issue - then let's talk about information sharing.

Re:Still wondering (2, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584927)

Google isn't only to find political information.

You can use google in a number of ways, they provide a number of different services.
Censorship is wrong, but if Google didn't negotiate with China, they would just ban google's whole subnet into oblivion. So, let's say that 20% of people would use google to find some information that may be considered to have something to do with politics. Of that 20%, let's say that some 70% would be ok for China, and another 30% is what they wanted banned. So, google is still functional in about 90% of all searches, that seems better than 0% to me. 100% of zero is zero, you have to negotiate sometimes.

Also, China is an amazingly big market, and also a pretty computer-literate market, so i think it represents a pretty big portion of google's income.

Re:Still wondering (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584985)

This is a false dilemma. there are technical means that uncensored google search results could be provided to the Chinese. it's just that Google doesn't want to bother with freedom of speech, it just wants to sell a product.

In fact, many Chinese could get Google results before. the Great Firewall is not completely effective. Now that Google is collaborating, Google themselves will make sure that the Chinese can't get uncensored search results.

Don't believe the PR statement. Google is actively making censorship worse in China, along with Microsoft and all the others.

Re:Still wondering (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584964)

I concur.

What google should have done, is set up its chinese-language service in the United States, and leave it up to the people in China to find ways to circumvent censorship (and you better believe they would).

-jcr
   

Re:Still wondering (5, Insightful)

MrWa (144753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584906)

Chinese citizens are probably better off with a censored Google rather than no Google at all. That is true.

The "critics", such as they are, are mainly those people that love to point out hypocrisy in others. Google brought this on themselves, though, by obviously juxtopositioning themselves against Microsoft with the corporate philosophy of "Do no evil." Remember your SAT keywords; Google themselves said "no evil" - not "Do the lesser of two evils."

Censorship in the support of a repressive government is considered by most people to fall under the umbrella of things evil. Justifying that action based on the corporate benefits or saying that, hey, atleast they know the results are being censored - as though millions of Chinese people are really that ignorant - does not change the fact that Google is helping to restrict the information available. That is why the critics are so vocal: it is about Google violating thier own philosophy and breaking netizen trust more than the specific benefit/harm tradeoff that filtering the results entails.

Re:Still wondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585017)

Google themselves said "no evil" - not "Do the lesser of two evils."

Evil is relative.

Google didn't nuke China on a whim, so they didn't do anything evil.

Google failed to feed all the starving people in the Sudan, ergo they're evil.

Re:Still wondering (1)

xbradlyx (867260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584972)

That's why Google agreed to the censership. China says 'Okay, if you don't censor your search results, then we can just block your entire site to our billion citizens.' Therefore Google's censorship isn't really blocking anything because the government would block it either way. I still think their my be value in Google standing up for what is right, but they are a public company and I'm sure the stock holders wouldn't be too happy to be banned. just my thoughts.
 
-bradly

Re:Still wondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584987)

Consider this:

Abe Lincoln decides to clean up the log cabin. He considers mixing his bleach with ammonia as a time saver. As a precaution he googles "bleach+ammonia". His search yields a few results including a government report of the health benefits of an ammonia/bleach elixir as well as an image of a smiling Ben Franklin mixing the substances in his lab. Convinced of his safety, Abe proceeds in mixing the cleaning agents. He promptly dies thereafter. That's it. No presidency. No emancipating. Just another unexplainable death completely unrelated to the funny tasting fog around his body. Any questions? (Man raises hand and is promptly shot) Any more questions?...No? I thought so.

Re:Still wondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585015)

Your question carries subtle subterfuge. If you ask "Is ____ better off without... ?" you can insert any criminal in the blank and the obvious answer is, "well, no."

The question is not whether China would be better off without Google. The question is, would we be better off without Google selling out our ideals to a country that will use that power to expand its practices further and further.

Dictators don't seek power to earn compromise. They seek power to endlessly expand and wipe out your way of life, eventually.

Welcome to /. (3, Insightful)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584555)

The comments so far seem to reflect exactly what I saw coming the second I read the headline.

If MS censors in China, MS is evil and money grubbing and should be stopped.
If Google censors in China they're actually improving freedom in China just by being there.
If MS defends Google censoring China, MS is evil, Google is Good.

Wecome to /.

Re:Welcome to /. (2, Interesting)

dbolger (161340) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584637)

Actually, on this issue I've seen more slashdot user criticism of Google than I have on pretty much anything else they have done; "evil" or otherwise.

In fact, the majority of the posts to this thread, at least those I've read, seem to be arguing against Google on this, many jokingly pointing out that a thumbs up from Bill Gates, the "Big Bad" on Slashdot, is hardly an winning endorsement of their actions in China.

Re:Welcome to /. (1)

iwein (561027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584809)

It's not that bad. It's just Bill making a moderately insightfull remark about what Google is doin' and /. confused. No good vs. evil here.

Re:Welcome to /. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584819)

Some users take one position
Others take another position
Some think slashdot is a single entity with double standards.

Welcome to /.

Re:Welcome to /. (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585001)

There have been plenty of comments criticizing Google. From my vantage point it seems like there are more negative comments than positive about Google's choice. Maybe that's because I'm one of those who wanted to think that Google wouldn't do something like this.

Anyway, you're just picking and choosing which comments to pay attention to. Google's drawing plenty of fire around here.

No more articles on this please!!!! (2, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584565)

Google hasn't done anything countless other companies have done. But because thits Google the press goes crazy with it. This is laughable to say the least. The more China gets exposed to influences from other countries, the better off they are. Google alone can't dictate policy in China. But once they are established, change can occur.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Moral equivalency... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584958)

Google alone can't dictate policy in China. But once they are established, change can occur.

The US alone can't dictate policy in Iran. But once they start sending Iran foreign aid, change can occur... oh, wait, that's the most asinine thing I've ever heard.

Ok Now I am Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584566)

I was willing to bet that the exchange of information would benefit China. Then I also feel that anything Bill Gates says is good, is in fact bad. So can someone please help me?

I don;t think it as bad (2, Insightful)

slothman32 (629113) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584572)

I'll get modded down for this but I don't really care what they do in China.
Well I do but I won't feel any more worse about it than I do about China in general.
It seems like it should be similar but I think of it as completely different than the US, or other wesertn countries.
Basically China can do whatever it wants.
Of course those are those who think that you should boycott anything that does business there. That would mean you have to leave the US and stop buying most products.
This applies to both Google and MS.
Now yes I do think censorship as bad but it isn't the same in other places.
I can't really explain it though.

P.S. I noticed that when someone mentions they will be modded down in a post it actually gets modded up.
I don't mind the karma loss I just like lots of replies.

Re:I don;t think it as bad (1)

Valdukas (247053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584899)

Your post made me consider the following: how would we all react if US government decided to censor all search. If companies were to comply with that, would we call them evil?

Re:I don;t think it as bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584929)

P.S. I noticed that when someone mentions they will be modded down in a post it actually gets modded up.
I don't mind the karma loss I just like lots of replies.


I also like lots of replies.




I'm sure I'll get modded down.

Follow the money... (0, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584593)

Don't want to deprive Bill Gates the potential licensing fees that Microsoft could charge for Windows Vista. It's hard being a billionaire when the goal of being a trillionaire is so far away. Steve Jobs might get there first with his Disney empire.

Re:Follow the money... (1)

AdamThirteenth (857966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584854)

Even Bill Gates has to keep up with the Jones's

Saudis (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584600)

There was no reason for technology companies not to do business in China, he argued.

He then added. Hell aslong as they have money and a good business relationship they can even high jack our planes and slam them into buildings.

Uncle Wang (1, Insightful)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584615)

This is a complex issue, and I don't claim to know the best way to encourage China to become a more open and free society. Heck, I don't even know how to encourage my own country to become more free, what with Dubya playing dictator and the so-called opposition party acting like lap dogs.

But the one thing I can say for sure in all this is that if I was a Chinese-American or a Chinese national who worked for Google, or Yahoo, or MS, I'd sure be feeling like an Uncle Tom right about now. Or is that an Uncle Wang? I'm not sure. But knowing that I was helping restrict the information access of some of my distant relatives, I'd sure feel like crapola.

But really, aren't all men supposed to be brothers? Aren't we all related, at some distant point in the far past? So to me, anyone who works for Google or one of the other companies helping to build the "Great Firewall" ought to be taking a hard look in the mirror and asking themselves... am I an Uncle Wang? Am I doing what I can to help my fellow man, or am I profiting from their oppression?

And the fact that Bill Gates says Google's actions are a good thing sure would not make me feel one iota better....

Re:Uncle Wang (1)

superyanthrax (835242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584677)

Don't even try to bring Uncle Tom into this, the situations are totally unrelated. And since you clearly aren't Chinese, you shouldn't comment about what a Chinese person would think. Not all Chinese oppose the great firewall either, it seems to be accepted as fact that all Chinese people dislike the firewall while that is totally untrue. Most really don't mind it at all.

Re:Uncle Wang (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584789)

Ahh the oppressed accept their oppression rather than face death to change it? Not a surprise. Not knowing what one does not have, one cannot miss it.. Perhaps they are talking to Chinese on the outside of the great firewall where the State is not sending them to re-education centers for their subversive behaviour (reading about alternative government systems for instance).. You probably work for google.ch, Uncle Lee.

This feels very much like my younger years.... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584625)

When I'd stop people from talking badly about a slutty girl in hopes that I would later get in her pants.

Maybe Bill is cozying up to Google to get some 'nookie'? :)

rare case (3, Insightful)

wes33 (698200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584641)

the pot calling the kettle white

Isn't that kinda racist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585043)

Shouldn't that be pot, kettle, clean... not white? I once had someone point out to me that they felt pot, kettle, black was one of the few socially acceptable racial slurs left, and I responded by saying I had always thought black meant black with soot/grime/whatever. it just meant dirty. Hearing pot, kettle, white however makes me wonder if they weren't correct after all. Not saying you're a neo nazi skinhead or anything wes33, you probably picked white because it is opposite of black as far as colors go, but still, in the PC climate of America...

Repeat after me until you believe (3, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584649)

Censorship leads to freedom.
Totalitarianism births democracy.
Benevolent societies are a natural byproduct following shareholder interests.

Re:Repeat after me until you believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584963)

War is peace. Ignorance is strength... Hey, is that the Thought Police by the window?

So much for all that "charity" work (0, Flamebait)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584687)

This demonstrates so clearly that Gates' supposedly charitable work is nothing but a PR exercise. If he is willing to help China, that demonstrates he doesn't really care about other people, so long as he makes a profit or looks good. Fucking disgusting hypocrites. That goes for Google, too. What's with these people who make grand statements about the good they are doing in the world, but then go totally against what they supposedly believe?

Re:So much for all that "charity" work (5, Insightful)

Morpeth (577066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585012)

"This demonstrates so clearly that Gates' supposedly charitable work is nothing but a PR exercise."

Really? Guess the $900 million he pledged just today to help fight TB was just play money? Look -- you can love or hate Bill, I really don't care, but maybe if you bothered to realize people are complex -- not all good, not all bad -- you MIGHT avoid such a ignorant, unsupported, knee-jerk remarks.

The guy has done some serious good in the world with his money, regardless of your hate for Microsoft or his approach to business;

$5 Billion to World Health Org
$100 million to help fight AIDS
$750 million to the Vaccine Fund

Though are REAL dollars, it's one helluva PR bill if that's all you think it is. According to Wikipedia, the Gates Foundation is the largest charitable organization in the world today -- with a trust set up to donate $1 BILLION anually. I'm guessing you probably haven't even given $50 to a single charity lately...

Criticize him for his monopolistic tendencies or business practices, but give credit where it's due.

Bill Gates Thoughts... (1)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584690)

If I'm going down, I'm going to bring everyone else down as well!

You neighbor abuses his wife and kid... (4, Interesting)

nysus (162232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584719)

...you so you decide to go over there and see if he needs a hand with his new deck. Oh, and you also give him a nice new baseball bat that he says he needs for, uh, batting practice. After all, you have a far better chance of reforming him by rewarding him, right?

If you are going to use analogies.... (3, Insightful)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584939)

.... at least try to use ones that hold some water.

IN the analogy you are using, you can refer the matter to an arbiting authority: the police.

In the case of Google, there is no referee, the referee is the client. And the judge, and everything.

If you wanna play in China (and if all your competition is alreading doing so, you must do so) then you are going to play under Chinese rules and brush up your Mandarin.

Having second thoughts... (5, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584724)

I work in a country where pornography is illegal, so whenever I set up a network I have to install a content filter as due diligence. Personally, I consider abuse of office resources to be a human resource issue, and I make it very clear to management that no filtering technology I can install will obviate the need for a clear Acceptable Use Policy and careful monitoring by staff and management.

I'm not entirely comfortable about blocking content on the Internet, as it's failure prone and IMO removes the responsibility from where I believe it should lie - squarely on the shoulders of the individual members of the organisation. I also find that the local attitude toward the human body extremely unhealthy and socially repressive. But because failure on my part to actively uphold the law of the land could result in my deportation and, more importantly, could harm the development organisation for whom I work, I hold my nose and install the filter anyway.

I still believe that the work I'm doing - bringing the Internet to places where it has never existed before - has more advantages than drawbacks. That's why I'm willing to compromise my principles and to go ahead with this.

That said, I am not working for the local government. Quite the contrary; I work for civil society organisations who spend a great deal of their time and energy keeping the government responsive to the needs of the people. I feel quite ambivalent about companies like Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google, who are in effect doing the government's work for it.

Gates' logic seems to run as follows:

  • We're improving access to information to the Chinese public;
  • In the process of doing that, we have to accept some reasonable compromises;
  • None the less, a net benefit results, so our proactive blocking of dissident content is mitigated by the more subtle influence of freer communication and more information.

I've tried to weigh the kind of compromises I'm willing to make in the course of trying to benefit society in the country where I work against the purported benefit that accrues to the people of China as a result of the presence of these tech corporations, and for reasons that I can't express very well, I still feel that avarice is leading Gates and co. to make rationalisations.

Anyway, this post is not really trying to prescribe so much as to suggest that the moral and ethical ground is not nearly as clear on either side as we might like. I emphatically disagree with the argument that corporations are amoral and should act only for profit, but at the same time, I have little patience for those who allow Platonic ideals to control their real world behaviour.

Re:Having second thoughts... (1)

syukton (256348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584892)

Which country is this and why are you there?

He's absolutely right (4, Insightful)

brsmith4 (567390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584735)

Just because Google is an American company, it is not within reason for it to impose American ideology on another nation. While doing business within a market sponsored and regulated by another government, it is only fair that you play by their rules. Google is NOT a liberation army, they are not defenders of democracy or freedom; nor is it their right to assume such a role in a foreign land. Google is a business, a business with shareholders who demand results, results which include expanding into other markets via legal means. Google is in China to offer a product or service and, in a hybrid free-market/command-economy, you must yield to he who allows you to peddle your goods on his front yard. In the end, it all means that regardless of how we the people, the employees of Google, or some loud-mouthed Senators feel, if you want to play in China, you must obey Chinese law.

The point can also be made that Google did not have to enter the Chinese market, given those stipulations, but unfortunately, that is not the case. We need as much Chinese business as we can get to help with the ever-growing trade imbalances as we import much more than we export. I fail to see any semblance of a moral dilemma here.

Dangerous ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584768)

... these things are dangerous. Bill say's that Google does good things, ergo it must be evil, but Google is not evil.

Why is that dangerous ... it may turn slashdot into a time-warp-black-hole-troll-flamewar-thingy sucking the entire universe in and ending all things.

The end is near!!!

Bill's Latest Query (2, Funny)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584788)

Bill's Google Search: "my position on Google in China"

Google's Reply: "It commends Google for doing business in China. Put the lotion in the basket!"

Great way to kill google's image (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584814)

Man, I gotta hand it to him, great move...now everyone's gonna hate google even more! I mean, they're doing something Satan himself says is good!

Re:Great way to kill google's image (2, Interesting)

Draconix (653959) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584872)

Gates is many things, but stupid is definitely not one of them. I'd not be surprised if he honestly did endorse Google to hurt them. I mean, think about it... Google pulls move many see to be 'evil,' which is contrary to their mantra of "Do no evil." Gates runs what's considered one of the most 'evil' corporations on Earth, so his endorsement of Google's move affirms people's thinking that Google is turning 'evil,' and makes them more likely to stop using Google's products and services. They may not flock to MS's products and services, but the less Google has, the better for MS.

Hmmmm (1)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584815)

A lot of people misinterpret Google.cn as being the chinese version of Google.com, even though they still offer the unfiltered version at Google.com. It seems to me as if google are just playing by china's rule in order to get the extra traffic, and more importantly the extra money.

Google is a company (1)

TallMatt (818744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584852)

The goal of every company is to make money. Google has an opportunity to make more money in China, so they are taking it.

It about the Pope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584853)

The Pope annouces he defends catolithism. News at 11.

Gee, Slashdot, where are the news that matter

Oh come on (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584902)


"If we don't sell the Germans Zyklon-B someone else will and our shareholders will be upset" - circa 1940

Everything or nothing vs. real world (4, Insightful)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584913)

Most of the comments here and the other articles on the subject follow the "everything or nothing" mentality.

This is typical when asking for opinions of people not directly affected by the matter. Most of you being outside China, it is easy to claim that you would rather not use Google at all instead of use a reliable service with certain "sensitive" pages filtered.

If you put yourself in the position of a Chinese Internet user, the situation quickly gets different.

Google is a powerful tool, the benefits of which reach far beyond looking up the human rights sites on the Internet (as important as that may be on its own). Depriving China of Google's services is far worse development for Chinese citizens than what Google chose to do.

Also don't forget that it's a lot easier to control a population with overall less reach to information sources. Even if Google filters certain pages, the rest of the information is still an important tool in the fight against censorship and human freedoms.

As China's population gets increasingly better informed and educated, it will be increasingly difficult to control them in the manners we see now or in the past.

So I applaud Bill Gates for taking stand on the matter, never mind if it is to defend Microsoft's own policy or out of principle.

Some Google is better than no Google (2, Informative)

digital photo (635872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584924)

I think alot of people are missing the point.

Google is restricting some sites. Yes. But by having servers for the Google Search, the users in China will be able to access content much more quickly. Ie, instead of a slow and unreliable search page, they will now have a high speed and reliable search page.

The only issue is that terms will be censored, as the government determines words that need censoring.

By making information search faster and easier in China, this opens up the minds of people using the net and the people they talk to. It makes the idea of freedom of information more prevelant and better accepted.

By not choosing to enter China, the alternative was that people would stop using Google because it was unusable in China due to dropped connections, poor speeds, etc. People would need to then use state-controlled search engines which could be shutdown outright.

People are saying it's a blow to human rights. I see it as a step forward for human rights. A tiny step, but a step forward nonetheless. Companies and people carrying the idea of freedom of information needs to start making more in-roads into China, and by extension, the Chinese Government's mindset.

The best way to combat opressive governmental systems is to spread the idea of a better system.

What people don't understand is that Google's going into China was probably something which Google negotiated upon from a disadvantaged position. China doesn't care for Google being in China. To be able to be in China and serve search results is a big boon, even with the restrictions. A boon to Google, for sure, but a boon to the people who live in China and want to use Google to search for information and new ideas.

Microsoft isn't really defending Google in the article. They are defending the idea of doing business in China. They are defending the concept that there is significant business opportunity to be had for companies doing business in China. If investors decide to back away from China as a market, that impacts Microsoft, who wants to increase their business in China.

It isn't so much that they are helping Google so much as keeping their ability to invest in China open.

Groups and organizations with ideas which would be considered radical in comparison to opressive governments are often times taking an all or nothing philosophy to oppression. Ie, all access or none at all. Which do you think is better for the people being oppressed?

By forcing an all-or-nothing decision/approach, you back the governments into a corner or you tie the hands of businesses. Often times, to the point where there isn't so much a discussion as there is a shouting match.

Change comes gradually. Sometimes decades, if not centuries. Yes, oppression is wrong. No, it won't change over night. Yes, the filtering of Google isn't optimal. But Google's presence in China helps to increase the visibility of an outside company and still offers a better mechanism to access the web's information. It isn't a great big step, but it's a step forward.

People are so stuck in the mindset of: do what we want or we will sanction you. Except that can't be leveraged against China because they are the biggest buyers of US bonds. They are a major investor in the US government. So sanctions against them is highly unlikely.

Gotta find that middle ground that everyone can agree on at the moment and find a better one down the line.

Google isn't evil. Not from my point of view. They are trying to do the best they can given the restrictions presented to them. Microsoft is hardly cheering them. The last thing Microsoft wants is Google to have a strong footing in China. Microsoft is only defending the idea of doing business in China, not Google's doing business in China.

Crowd pleasing (1)

FishandChips (695645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584936)

Bear in mind that Gates was speaking at the Davos summit, a cosy club of self-appointed (and probably self-regarding) movers and shakers from around the world. Not a few of these people would trample their grandmother - never mind a few Chinese workers - if they thought there was a buck on the other side of the road. Gates was never going to talk down capitalism, technology or China to an audience like this, no matter which companies are involved.

The one thing all these extremely rich folks seem to take as gospel is that despite the Chinese government backing capitalism and dictorial repression at the same time, China is the future, China is where the money is, China is about to become unimaginably prosperous, etc., etc. Received opinion has said the same before about states that soon after imploded in war, chaos, financial collapse and disaster of one kind or another. For myself, I wouldn't bank on received opinion being right this time either.

Go google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584945)

google did the right thing. and better yet, they did it very wisely. Read their blog [blogspot.com] .

Big Money, no ethics (1)

jonfr (888673) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584946)

It is all about money and how big profit the company can make. The big company doesn't care about the pepole. Long as they get more $$ or (insert euro money logo here) they don't care about anything else. Microsoft is no diffrent then rest of the Mega-super companyes out there. Google is also no diffrent then the rest of the crowd, they are just smarter in hideing it.

Americans should look in their own backyard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584981)

America has a ethnocentric, xenophobic culture. People here love preaching about human rights in other places yet they constantly ignore the discrimination and stereotypes that are perpetuated here.

It's all over the media, during late night shows, in movies, in TV shows. How Asian leads are there in any show or movie here?

Would Americans be willing to watch a movie about Asians in an Asian language that doesn't deal with Kung Fu? Chinese people are much more open-minded when it comes to watching Americans on the screen.

Why don't you guys fix the racist culture in your country first before complaining about human rights? It's as if you want to complain about other cultures and places so you can feel superior.

What I think.... (1, Insightful)

mstefanus (705346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584990)

I've seen many comments badmouthing Google or any other companies for complying to Chinese government's rules. I think it is time for me to have a say, I will probably be modded down for this, but at least you see a different perspective.

Look, not the whole world is the West. Many of you think that everyone in the world would want to be like Westerners; want freedom of speech, want freedom of this of that... but guess what? No! Some people actually do not need freedom of speech or freedom to watch pr0n on the net. Well not yet at least... Eastern countries have different cultures than the Wests'. Differences in social structures, values, religions etc. Openness is good for improvement I think, but it should not happen immidiately. Their societies work that way for ages, asserting foreign (Western) values in an instant may break those societies. Besides, some of Western cultures are bad btw. So if China wants to set their own rules, stop bickering. It is none of your business.

Say you have a very expensive carpet in your house and you want people to take their shoes off when entering. Google is taking its shoes off, but some crowd outside jeering, protesting Google because it respects your rules. WTF!

Insidious Filtering (4, Interesting)

karmatic (776420) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585018)

I've been comparing some of the differences between the chinese version and the US one.

Take a look at the Google US search for "Tiawanese Independence [google.com] . Note that the first result is the Tiawanese Independence Party, and #2 describes how Bush Opposes it.

Now, let's take a look at the french site, to see if the results are similar - "Taiwanese Independence [google.fr] ". Very similar results.

Let's try this on .cn: "Taiwanese Independence [google.cn] ". Note that the Independence Party is completly gone from the results. Guess they are subversive.

Far more insidious than actually banning certain searches is manipulating the results themselves to tout the party line. Leave a few fringe sites up, so you don't appear to completly control things, but remove any site you consider to truly be a threat. After all, they are doubleplus ungood.

Well..... (1)

Stupor Man (926173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585048)

For Bill "If you have the money, we WILL come" Gates to defend the action is expected. It's not likely that someone from Google will throw a chair at the Chinese goverment and have them bow down.
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