Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Congressman Quizzes Net Companies on Shame

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the ethical-dilemmas dept.

Censorship 459

mjdroner writes "Cnet has a transcript of the House of Representatives hearing on net censorship with Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and Yahoo reps. At one point, Rep. Tom Lantos asks if Microsoft is ashamed of their actions in China. Microsoft: 'We comply with legally binding orders whether it's here in the U.S. or China.' Lantos: 'Well, IBM complied with legal orders when they cooperated with Nazi Germany. Those were legal orders under the Nazi German system.'"

cancel ×

459 comments

Shit (3, Funny)

republican gourd (879711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741258)

Congress envoked Godwin's Law. Now this whole thing is going to peter out and the companies are going to come out blameless.

Re:Shit (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741264)

Lantos, to Cisco: Is your company ashamed? Cisco: (Begins to talk about products that Cisco sells.) ace.... typical cisco

Re:Shit (4, Insightful)

dc29A (636871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741266)

We comply with legally binding orders whether it's here in the U.S. or China.

Ironic how MS is doing everything not to have to comply with the EU's antitrust rulings.

Re:Shit (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741308)

Ironic how MS is doing everything not to have to comply with the EU's antitrust rulings.

Look, it's quite simple.

Complying with China's demands may: cost some pro-democracy activists their lives

Complying with the EU's demands may: cost some Microsoft shareholders some of their money

You aren't suggesting that Microsoft should deliberately make less money than the maximum theoretically possible, are you? That's Communism! That goes against all the principles of liberty, justice and shameless gouging that America was founded on!

Re:Shit (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741344)

Not to mention that if it's Communism, it's pro-China!

Re:Shit (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741359)

You aren't suggesting that Microsoft should deliberately make less money than the maximum theoretically possible, are you?

US-American law requires that a publically traded company maximize their revenue. The executive-staff could be prosecuted for deliberately ignoring the Chinese market.

Re:Shit (2, Insightful)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741387)

US-American law requires that a publically traded company maximize their revenue. The executive-staff could be prosecuted for deliberately ignoring the Chinese market.

Care to back this up with a quote from the U.S. Code? I know they have a responsibility to their shareholders as spelled out in pretty much any corporate charter, but civil or criminal liability? I seriously doubt it unless it was a case of willful negligence or stock abuse (e.g. Enron). Just failing to meet an opportunity to make more money is hardly illegal. The worst case is that the shareholders would vote out whichever board member messed up.

Re:Shit (1)

sirambrose (919153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741492)

Its called a shareholder lawsuit. Shareholder lawsuits are civil lawsuits against board members or CEO's to reover lost share value caused by negligent management decisions. Deciding not to do business in a large market like China would probably trigger such a lawsuit against the board members for tens of millions of dollars. I'm not sure if there is any specific law that enables them because they are no different than lawsuits against people who loose physical property they were entrusted with.

Re:Shit (2, Funny)

*coughs loudly* (301749) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741448)

That goes against all the principles of liberty, justice and shameless gouging that America was founded on!
Good points, but I think "tax-evasion" was an even more fundamental principle.

Re:Shit (2, Funny)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741478)

Complying with China's demands may: cost some pro-democracy activists their lives
Complying with the EU's demands may: cost some Microsoft shareholders some of their money


And the sad part is, some people are going to think that's just you being funny or ironic, but that's exactly how it works.

It's always easier to apologize later, once the bodies are buried and your pockets are full, than to do anything ahead of time and take heat from your shareholders for it.

But I have only a limited amount of blame for the corporations involved, or the people that run them. I fully expect, perhaps if I were an investor I'd even demand, that they go to the very bounds of legality in pursuing profit. That's what they do, it is their nature. Do the analysts on Wall Street give a damn whether some Chinese democracy advocate ended up in a re-education center? No; except insofar as it'll change the quarterly earnings. The people who matter don't care, and the people who care don't matter.

I'm not particularly happy with Google these days -- I'm rather disgusted for them for being hypocritical: I can take unethical/immoral behavior, but I prefer that people at least appreciate what they're doing when they do it -- but perhaps there is something to be said for the effect they're having. If you're a businessperson who doesn't really enjoy doing morally repugnant things in the name of money, but also doesn't want to get run out of business by someone with less moral hangups, perhaps the best course of action is to be as flagrantly immoral as possible, while still staying within the bounds of the law as written: the result might be that the laws get changed, forcing you (and everyone else) to play a cleaner game.

Of course, the problem is that it's sacrificing other people instead of yourself, in the name of getting the laws changed.

Re:Shit (-1, Flamebait)

AppyPappy (64817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741331)

I can't believe Lantos the Loony criticized the Red Chinese. I would have expected that question from a conservative.

Re:Shit (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741388)

I have a bit less issue with someone "invoking" Godwin's Law who actually lived [wikipedia.org] through the period in question.

/CF

Re:Shit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741401)

Godwin was in fact a holocaust denier who thought that it was all a myth to help the zionists create Israel.

He hoped by making his little internet "law" he could stop people from talking about the horrors of the third reich in casual conversation on the internet.

So basically invoking Godwin's law is an anti-semitic act.

Re:Shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741481)

at the risk of replying to an (obvious) troll...


Godwin was in fact a holocaust denier who thought that it was all a myth to help the zionists create Israel.

[...]


WTF? Do you have any evidence or logic to support your assertions? Or are you just talking out of your ass?

He lost his own argument (1, Redundant)

giminy (94188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741268)

I guess he never heard of Godwin's Law [catb.org] .

Re:He lost his own argument (2, Informative)

pilybaby (638883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741279)

Or Reductio ad Hitlerum [wikipedia.org]

"Hitler ate sugar."

Re:He lost his own argument (1)

HairyCanary (688865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741460)

I do not see how that applies here. Did the congressman give specific examples? I think it is safe to say that Hitler had policies we now consider evil. At least one. It therefore is perfectly okay to use him as a reference for "legitimate governments that have laws that Americans consider evil." Reductio ad Absurdum/Hitlerum does not suggest that using that generalization is a fallacy, only that getting specific and saying "because Hitler promoted autobahns, autobahns are therefore evil." is absurd.

uh-oh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741269)

<strongbad-voice>GODWIN'D!</strongbad-voice>

Anne Frank (4, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741273)

One interesting section I saw was when Yahoo was being quizzed about handing over information to the Chinese Government about a Blogger. They were asked if they would have done the same if the Nazi's asked them the location of Anne frank. Its good that people are drawing paralels on these areas, they are very similar but I think it helps people to think about it more deaply than they might have done. The Nazi state is something people understand and have seen a lot about, China is similar but a lot of what you get taught about it in school is about Mao and later leaders, all told in a possitive way, and less about areesting people who want democracy

Re:Anne Frank (2, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741303)

The Nazi state is something people understand and have seen a lot about, China is similar but a lot of what you get taught about it in school is about Mao and later leaders, all told in a possitive way, and less about areesting people who want democracy

Well, the Nazi Regime and the Red Dynasty are highly similar, with the major difference being that the Red Dynasty has killed many more people. Also, rather than singling out one particular ethnic minority to anihilate, they've killed mostly their own (Han) people. (Not that this is much comfort to the Tibetans or the Uighurs, of course).

-jcr

Re:Anne Frank (2, Interesting)

enjahova (812395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741404)

The Nazi Regime and the "Red Dynasty" are totally different. Do you know how many changes have happened in China in the last 100 years? Do you know how many civil wars cost millions of lives? The Cultural revolution and the resulting death toll is NOT part of the same government that rules today. Have you heard of the capitalism going on in many parts of the country? How could that possibly be the same as the extreme communist rule of Chairman Mao? This oversimplifying of history gets in the way of pragmatic thinking. You want to throw around numbers of how many died, but it doesn't mean anything if you don't know the context.

The very fact that you call it the Red Dynasty shows an aversion to fact. I suggest you and the mods that modded you informative read wikipedia and find out WHY China has the government it has now, and why they see stability as more important than democracy. (Not that I see it that way, just why many Chinese people do)

Re:Anne Frank (1)

EiZei (848645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741530)

If you are talking about the cultural revolution you have to take into account that it pretty much spun out of control. It is more comparable to say african style anarchy than Stalin. And of course there is the matter of opportunity (Mao and buddies had more people to kill and more time to do it), of course this point of view probably makes Pol Pot (no enemy of the chinese) worse than anybody else.

Re:Anne Frank (5, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741329)

They were asked if they would have done the same if the Nazi's asked them the location of Anne frank.

Of course they would have, if there was a profit in it. What Anne Frank was doing was illegal (Reich Criminal Code section 1775B: Breathing while Jewish), and if Yahoo wanted to do business in Germany at the time then they would certainly have had to comply with the demands of the lawfully appointed Gestapo. Not to do so would require them to forego the potential revenues to be had in Germany, which would clearly mean a failure to maximise shareholder value.

They're corporations. They're pure Lawful Evil by definition.

Re:Anne Frank (1)

Ythan (525808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741497)

They're pure Lawful Evil by definition.

Not evil. Amoral.

Re:Anne Frank (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741376)

a lot of what you get taught about it in school is about Mao and later leaders, all told in a possitive way

What schools teach you about Mao in "a positive way"?

China's "Great Leap Forward" [orbit6.com] around 1960. The typical estimate given for the number of people who died is generally placed around 30 million people.

Re:Anne Frank (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741429)

Your own link lumps the Great Leap Forward in with "significant events that are not often mention in the history books." If it's not even in many books, I doubt many history teachers are going to go out of their way to teach it. I never learned about this in school. I had to read up on it on my own.

Re:Anne Frank (4, Insightful)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741422)

One interesting section I saw was when Yahoo was being quizzed about handing over information to the Chinese Government about a Blogger. They were asked if they would have done the same if the Nazi's asked them the location of Anne frank.

I would ask if they would do the same if the FBI came knocking on their door asking for customer information without a warrant, but waving the ill-named USA PATRIOT Act around. "Terrorism!" "Security reasons!" "Other buzzword that makes it sound like you aren't a true red-blooded American if you don't comply!" This whole thing really pisses me off. Congress is more than willing to tear down trade barriers with China, allow some corporations to run sweat shops over there, while criticising the tech companies for doing something similar. Sure, there aren't sweat shops, but paying some poor guy 12 cents an hour in dangerous conditions is surely at least as bad, from a freedom and democracy standpoint, as providing a censored web search to their population.

I guess some "most favored nations" are more favored than others. Since Britain and China are both MFN, why should we treat them differently? If China needs to be treated differently, why don't they lose their MFN status?

Re:Anne Frank (0)

jandersen (462034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741527)

Oh, yes, China and Nazi Germany are SO similar!!!

Unfortunately tha same decree of similarity can be demostrated between the US and Nazi Germany, or Israel or Nazi Germany if one is so inclined. That sort of arguments prove nothing, except that you're trying to pick a fight, or perhaps hope to score some cheap points by repeating the same sort of stupid, uninformed drivel as all the other rednecks.

I'm not going to argue with you - I think you're beyond that, and anybody who has actually studied the subjects or been to China knows that you're talking crap.

My God, sometimes I find it hard to believe that there are people in America who are stupid enough to belive in Bush & Co. or Creationism (aka 'Intelligent Design''); but then I come across this kind of nonsense, and Dubya suddenly seems intelligent by comparison.

A corporation has no shame (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741275)

Simply because it has no conscience. There's always someone "higher up" demanding that you do what you have to do. You have no choice but to do what you do. Do it or be fired. And on top, you have the shareholders who want their shares to rise. So you have to do what you have to do, or they get angry and replace you. And the shareholders don't have anything to do with the way a company is lead. They don't know what's going on.

Comforting, isn't it? And so convenient too. Nobody's to blame. In fact, if it wasn't illegal, you could run a corporation dealing in murder. Nobody would have a problem pulling the trigger. 'cause hey, he can't do anything else anyway, it's the system.

And since I don't want to invoke Godwin's Law, I'll end here.

Re:A corporation has no shame (1)

enjahova (812395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741345)

Yeah, or maybe some corporations want to do whats right? Perhaps these companies don't have shame because they think they are doing the right thing? All of us armchair-revolutionaries like to think freedom comes from the top down, Americans know what freedom is and they can tell the rest of the world how to run things. Funny thing is I am American and I DO think that we have something pretty good going on. At the same time I don't think moral absolutism is what is going to bring China around. People talk here as if Chinese people don't know what is going on or can't find out if they look, but that's just wrong. The corporations are HELPING the people by supplying an increasingly free market with goods it wants.

Re:A corporation has no shame (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741382)

you could run a corporation dealing in murder.

they already do [wikipedia.org] , except its under the guise of providing "security", the results are still private citizens killing for profit

Re:A corporation has no shame (3, Insightful)

MacroMegaMan (819087) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741499)

If shareholders and investors want to invest their money in various unethical and nefarious schemes, they deserve to lose every last penny of their investment. We all need to start paying more attention to the people brokering our money.

Say you have Joe, an investor with a 401k. He works at a factory that makes watches. He gets his prospectus this year, and notices the message fom his broker of an anticipated increse in profits due to a rise in share price in some of their sector companies. Next month, Joe gets word that his plant is closing down, and the jobs are being outsorced to China/India/Bulgaria. The company Joe works for is the company that led the rise in share prices that drove up his 401k. The savings due to outsorcing was what made it all possible. But now, being out of work, in an area with a *lot* of other people doing the same thing he once did, he may need to dip into those very savings, or find himself and his family out on the street.

The brokers of the various investing companies are the one selling us this "eat our own tail" lunch, and we need to start paying attention to what the constant high rate of return on our investments are actually costing us.

Um... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741276)

Since when do companys have an obligation to the "greater good" as defined by congress... and why is congress suddenly defining "good" and attempting to protect "freedom"?

Double Standard (0)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741281)

Ah yes, it is those EVIL tech companies support the EVIL chinese regime by following the law and not the US government which has given them the Most Favored Trade Status with the US.

I am sure that Google and Microsoft has 6 year-olds writing toiling in basements writing the next version of Office or Internet explorer and Google search engine. They would be too busy coding to be working in a sweat-shop factory sewing clothes 16 hours a day in inhumane conditions.

No sir, It is those tech companies turning a blind eye to everything going on...

Re:Double Standard (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741318)

Ah yes, it is those EVIL tech companies support the EVIL chinese regime by following the law and not the US government which has given them the Most Favored Trade Status with the US.

It would appear that you're trying to let google off the hook, just because another organization (the government) has also dealt with the criminal regime. Sorry, morality doesn't work that way. Having company doesn't excuse a crime.

-jcr

Re:Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741414)

No, but congressmen who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones...

Tom Lantos (5, Informative)

kcurtis (311610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741354)

In general, I would agree with you. However, you are off base on this one because it was Tom Lantos making these statements. He is a HUGE champion of freedom (true freedom, not freedom unless it hurts a corporation). I have taken the liberty of doing a cut & paste of part of his online biography:

An American by choice, Tom Lantos was born in Budapest, Hungary, on February 1, 1928. He was 16 years of age when Nazi Germany occupied his native country. As a teenager, he was placed in a Hungarian fascist forced labor camp. He succeeded in escaping and was able to survive in a safe house in Budapest set up by Swedish humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg. His story is one of the individual accounts which forms the basis of Steven Spielberg's Academy Award winning documentary about the Holocaust in Hungary, The Last Days.

Say what you will about most Congressmen, Senators and the President, but complaints about MFT and coddling those commie bastards doen't apply to Rep. Lantos.

Re:Tom Lantos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741381)

So why isn't he holding hearings about China's Most Favored Nation Status??

Re:Tom Lantos (5, Informative)

kcurtis (311610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741403)

He is a Democrat. Democrats cannot hold hearings because they are in the minority at present.

He has called for hearings on many human rights issues, including Guantanamo Bay. Do you really think the Republicans will allow any hearings into China, Gitmo or Iraq?

The Pot Calls The Kettle.... (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741285)

Seriously, Lantos has some nerve. He's a memner of the same congress that both approved Guantanamo Bay and moved to supress images from Abu Ghraib. Censoring information to people in other countries is one thing. Censoring information from your own counrtymen is another.

Perhaps Lantos should look closer to home for people to berate. Asking the sociopaths that run multinational corperations whether they are "ashamed" is ridiculous to begin with. These people are physically incapable of that emotion. Joe Congressman on the other hand, may have developed the ability by tuning himself into his electorate over the years.

Re:The Pot Calls The Kettle.... (1)

GReaToaK_2000 (217386) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741334)

Most excellent!!!

Thank you!!! I was just going to post "Pot and the Kettle" or "people who live in glass houses".

So you're as dumb as the parent poster. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741418)

Thanks for making that clear.

Re:The Pot Calls The Kettle.... (4, Informative)

briancarnell (94247) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741356)

Seriously, you're an idiot. That may be a problem for other members of congress, but Lantos was one of 141 House members who voted for a measure [siliconv.com] that would have overturned MFN status for China.

He was wrong then and wrong now, but at least he is consistent.

I invoke the " Rush" rule. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741455)

Seriously, you're an idiot.

The Rush rule, because of AM radio, the Rush effect, and other folks who insist on name calling instead of, or including a (some what) rational argument. But, if someone uses the same technique on them, they (Rush et al.) will hang up and further their name calling and then dip into a complete irrational argumnt.

Ergo, a ratinal discussion cannot be made. Now, go away and have another cup of coffee and come back when you feel like being civil and a bit more adult.

No need to flame back, I'm an AC after all.

Perhaps you should learn who Tom Lantos is (4, Insightful)

kcurtis (311610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741390)

You are so wrong about Tom Lantos that there is not enough room to write about it. I can assure you that as a survivor of a WWII concentration camp, Tom Lantos is in no way a supporter of Gitmo. You are showing igorance by painting an individual member of the House with a paint brush better suited to the Republican majority.

Re:Perhaps you should learn who Tom Lantos is (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741427)

I can assure you that as a survivor of a WWII concentration camp, Tom Lantos is in no way a supporter of Gitmo.

So what's he actually doing about it? Instead of making noise about that, he's hassling Google and Microsift about their dealings abroad. Maybe he should divert his energies to more pertinent matters on the home front.

Re:Perhaps you should learn who Tom Lantos is (5, Informative)

kcurtis (311610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741452)

He does what he can. He is a Democrat in a Congress with Republican majorities in both houses. He cannot hold hearings. He cannot force subpoenas. All he can do is vote, and make noise when given a stage. He did so, and did it well.

He has held unofficial hearings outside Congress, but they have no power and get no press.

When the Democrats held control, Lantos was at the forefront of the human rights movement that was reflected in official policy. Today he has no such power.

So he is doing what he can, in the forums he has access to, and I applaud him for it.

Re:Perhaps you should learn who Tom Lantos is (1)

mjm1231 (751545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741485)

You do realize it's possible to do both, right? I deal with multiple different issues every day. A congressperson with a large support staff should be able to do the same.

What about search history? (4, Interesting)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741296)

Google: We don't offer a service that puts anyone in that situation, and the best way we honor their situation is to ensure that we are not associated with a similar situation. We don't offer products that would put us in a position of putting people like that in danger.

Does Google maintain the same history of keyword searches by IP and by "cookie" at google.cn? If so, what are they going to do when the Chinese government demands they provide that information?

It's not hard to imagine a situation where that information would put a Chinese Google user in danger.

Godwin's Law at 0th post (1, Funny)

sco08y (615665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741315)

Is this a new record?

Re:Godwin's Law at 0th post (1)

Lectrik (180902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741369)

Godwin's Law at 0th post
  Is this a new record?

Hmmm...it would be difficult to beat.
I'm Guessing to beat it you'd need an article citing a discussion to get Godwin's Law as -1st (or is that -1th) post?

Heard it (4, Interesting)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741321)

I listened to some of this on the Today programme (Radio 4) in the UK and the Microsoft guy sounded *really* nervous when they bought up the IBM/Germany analogy. It sounded like the similarity really hadn't occurred to him before. Really cheered me up on a cold morning.

Re:Heard it (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741360)

I listened to some of this on the Today programme (Radio 4) in the UK and the Microsoft guy sounded *really* nervous when they bought up the IBM/Germany analogy. It sounded like the similarity really hadn't occurred to him before.

Nah, it had occurred to him. He would have been briefed by P.R. and legal teams before being allowed anywhere near an interview team. They will have explained to him all about IBM and Nazi Germany and how their consultants had helped put together the advanced filing systems to organise the Final Solution. And they will have explained to him that under no circumstances is he to admit that Microsoft's position is even remotely similar to that, or he personally is in deep, deep shit.

So of course he got nervous when the subject came up. Say the wrong thing here, and he's fired...

stupid (1)

I WILL KICK YOUR ASS (263791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741326)

If I ever meet them, I will kick their ass.

Bizarre double standard (4, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741338)

So, Congress things that censorship of the Net is a bad thing.
This is the SAME congress that mandates filtering of the Net in all libraries.
So, basically, if other countries do it, it's evil, but if the USA does it, that's the right thing to do? Sounds a lot like Congress' policy on detaining and torturing prisoners.

Re:Bizarre double standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741475)

It's a little diffrent to sensor public content to prevent infringing on other's rights (yes there is a right to not be exposed to someone else's content) and sensoring peoples private content.

Public content can be sensored if you don't have the decency to accomodate others.

Privately you can do what ever you like within the law.

Re:Bizarre double standard (1)

EiZei (848645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741507)

There's still a huge difference between not allowing to see sites that have the word vagina on them and giving out the IPs of internet dissidents so the chinese can send them to their gulags.

Re:Bizarre double standard (1)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741525)

Google took a hit because they stood up to demands from the US government for records of searches by Americans. IOW, they took a stand for individual privacy and against erosion of civil liberties.

Now Google takes a hit because they didn't stand up against the Chinese government. IOW they didn't stand up against erosion of civil liberties.

So tell me, as a company doing business world-wide, how can they win in this little political game, and how different are the two demands? (Bonus points if you don't invoke the specter of "terrorism".)

where was Wallmart ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741343)


yeah keep ragging on the .COM companies, selling billions of dollars worth jars of pickles,t-shirts and foam hands [sundance.org] isnt worth mentioning

Confusing (5, Insightful)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741355)

The issue as I see it is this:
Either the company comply with Chinas laws or do not do business there.
So what they are debating , is if they are going to ban the companies from a particular area of trade and services in china .
Is that somehow anti-capitalist ? does it constitute an embargo ?

Re:Confusing (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741490)

It isn't anit-capitalist (at least in my view of what that means).

In a capitalist society a company should have no shame, they should do whatever they can to make profits regardless of the costs to anything, however it is the governments job to stop companies from doing things we see as "evil", and through a system of fines or other methods make it not rational to do because of the cost. Basically everyone should act in only their best interest, and it should be in the Government's interest to keep people happy and safe across the world... I know i'm being normative... I'd never really happen like that, its just how I think it should

I hope they won't comply with any govt rules (-1, Troll)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741361)

Including (child) porn [wsj.com] , libel, advertising, copyright, trademark, decency, campaign financing bullshit or any other laws regarding speech. Because, after all, Bush ~ Hitler.

This makes me want to come over and punch him... nah, I'll just wait till he goes hunting with Dick. What makes him think that his ideas of what to censor are any better that those of the Chinese government?

How about working with the US congress ? (-1, Troll)

trendzetter (777091) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741370)

I think the US congress has more simularities to nazi parlement than the Chinese government.

Re:How about working with the US congress ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741450)

Good work. You managed to invoke Godwin's Law on your own first post!

Re:How about working with the US congress ? (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741456)

I think the US congress has more simularities to nazi parlement than the Chinese government.

Brian Sebril [wikipedia.org] thinks man never landed on the moon. These people [alaska.net] think the earth is flat. A lot of smart people think a lot of dumb things.

Democracy Isnt For Everyone (4, Insightful)

omegashenron (942375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741373)

I honestly believe that this entire topic has been blown out of proportion - congress is not interested in promoting free speech, they just want to spread democracy to the rest of the world.

Just remember how communists in the US were treated during the cold war - there goes the free speech argument. It can be said that the United States is the greatest example of democracy, however, it is also the greatest example of it's failure. In the US corporations run the country at least in China they are forced to tow the line.

Having recently visited China, I can sincerely say it is not the police state that most people envision (actually the heightened security in the US is far more restrictive in my experience i.e bags being searched and going though metal detectors in some buildings most notably SF City Hall)

Although many people do comment on China's education system which puts Mao on a pedistol, it is no different to what the US does with Kennedy - secondly in China's education system, the incident at Tienanmen Square is not taboo - my current girlfriend completed high school in China and was taught that the military was wrong but so too were the protesters (allegedly they set fires)

I'm not trying to make excuses for the Chinese Government, I just think we should give them a fair go and accept their sovereignty like they do ours (has anyone heard Chinese criticising the US for their human rights record?).

Re:Democracy Isnt For Everyone (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741411)

I honestly believe that this entire topic has been blown out of proportion - congress is not interested in promoting free speech, they just want to spread democracy to the rest of the world.

They don't give a damn about democracy. They want to spread free market capitalism to the rest of the world.

Remember, Congressmen do the bidding not of the voters but of the corporations that contributed to their campaign funds. These corporations don't care whether a country is a democracy or a dictatorship, as long as it lets them do more or less as they please and make an awful lot of money at it.

Indeed, a free-market dictatorship might be even better than a democracy. In a dictatorship, you need only bribe the dictator and all regulations and obstacles to the greater profit melt away. In a democracy, you have do bribe a majority of the representatives, and that costs a lot more.

Re:Democracy Isnt For Everyone (1)

enjahova (812395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741468)

The funny thing is it's already becoming a free-market economy. There are 4 major cities that are the Chinese-equivalent of Washington D.C. meaning they are governed directly by the federal government. These cities have relaxed economic regulations, and have entire sections that are "new economic zones" where foreign companies come and set up base.

This congressman is trying to limit the free market because he claims these companies are doing something bad. These 4 relatively insignificant companies (google is great, but chinese people use baidu.com) are in those special economic zones along side EVERY OTHER MAJOR INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION. You name it they got it. We are not living in a nationalized world anymore, you can't just have things from one place or another. People are going to have to let go and accept that the world has to work together, especially as capitalism does spread.

Re:Democracy Isnt For Everyone (1)

Christopher B. Brown (1267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741474)

Are you sure it's "free market capitalism" that they want to spread?

Or something that at some level resembles that enough that they could call it such, whilst actually being neither free (as most participants are realistically indentured slaves), a market (since only one or two companies control 100% of the sales), or capitalism (as the benefits would accrue to people with political capital... Oh well, I guess I'm wrong about that one...)...

"Democracy isn't for everyone"!?!?! WTF? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741434)

If it's not for everyone, it's for no one. Universal rights mean nothing unless they're universal.

What? Are the Chinese too "yellow" for democracy? Politcal freedome is only for white Europeans?

Interesting as all shit that you conflate security searches designed to protect against terrorist attack with military tanks running over people engaged in a political protest.

You sure as hell are trying to excuse and explain the Chinese government.

Re:"Democracy isn't for everyone"!?!?! WTF? (1)

enjahova (812395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741498)

You are also oversimplifying. I think what the parent is saying is that China may not want democracy right now. Do you know how many people live in that country? How many people need to eat? Not everyone lives one block from a mcdonalds you know, there are people trying to survive.

I think it is important for American's to understand a fundamental thing about Chinese culture (at least as I have heard from Chinese people). That is that Chinese people feel that China needs to stay together. In their 5000 year history the country has been united and divided, and it is part of their culture to want to stay united. Americans can recognize that with the civil war, but our country was 100 years old, not thousands of years. This is important when talking about democracy and the current state of things. This is a higher priority than the bill of rights, try to understand that Chinese people KNOW what freedom is, they WANT it, but many just know that the country cannot handle a sudden change like that. So take this as you will, but just try to understand that people in that country don't have the same views on life or society, and that is partially why things are the way they are.

Re:Democracy Isnt For Everyone (5, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741462)

I honestly believe that this entire topic has been blown out of proportion - congress is not interested in promoting free speech, they just want to spread democracy to the rest of the world.

Well, as long as that involves being willing to de-recognize countries that elect the "wrong" people, like Hamas. After all, its not real democracy if you don't vote the way that we want you to. Or something.

Re:Democracy Isnt For Everyone (2)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741489)

Well, as long as that involves being willing to de-recognize countries that elect the "wrong" people, like Hamas. After all, its not real democracy if you don't vote the way that we want you to.

"Because might makes right,
And, till they've seen the light
They've got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
Till somebody we like can be elected!"

Tom Lehrer, Send the Marines!

Power/Profit, or Ethics? (2, Interesting)

Shag (3737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741394)

The challenge of trying to have both power/profit and ethics is hardly a new one - it's been around probably as long as there have been people.

In the United States, where so many people are very committed to capitalism, it may rear its head more than in some other types of social or economic systems, but I see it everywhere I go.

"What pays best" and "What is best" simply aren't always the same thing, after all.

Personally, I've made choices on both sides of the divide, when there's been one. I got tired of picking things that paid well but made me feel dirty, after a while... but that's probably why I'm neither corporate nor congressional!

Oooh... (1)

LeddRokkenstud (945664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741396)

Wow, he whipped out the Nazi card. I wonder if he'll play the Communist card next!

Take at look at your mouse (2, Insightful)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741398)

Mr Lantos,

Do you have *any* equipment that says "Made in China" ?

If you do, your questions should be asked in the mirror.

Re:Take at look at your mouse (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741446)

Does he have any "Made in China" goods?

Probably the flag he's waving was sewn there.

Interesting (-1, Troll)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741407)

The Chinese don't have anything similar to the Guantanamo base, where alleged terrorists are held, without being given status as prisoners of war, without the right to a lawyer, in order to interrogate them with torture off American soil.

The Chinese don't fly all across Europe, picking up alleged terrorists, interrogating them in the air, in order to avoid laws on torture.

The Chinese don't invade countries, going all against the UN, without a single thread of evidence for the alleged cause, like it happened in Iraq ("Weapons of mass destruction") and has it happened in Vietnam.

The Chinese don't have bases all around the world like the Americans do.

I think it is time the Americans start to realize that AMERICA is today's Nazi regime, NOT China.

If you don't like China, get the fuck out of the country. At least learn something about the country before you open your fat Mayonaisse-stinking American mouth.

From today onward, I will search exclusively with baidu.com and actively choose non-American products. I am fucking fed up with the American claim to fame, being the lighthouse of democracy in the world. YOU ARE NOT! Your fame lies in the world's greatest genocide, in a racist history, in polluting the world.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741435)

The Chinese don't invade countries, going all against the UN, without a single thread of evidence for the alleged cause, like it happened in Iraq ("Weapons of mass destruction") and has it happened in Vietnam.

Tell it to the Dalai Lama.

Re:Interesting (1, Troll)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741508)

Tibet has been a part of China for 700 years. That's waaaay before Columbus rediscovered America (after Leif Eriksson). What right do YOU have to interfere in this? None. Why don't you give back Arizona, California and Texas to Mexico? Or the whole goddamn country to the Indians?

"Insightful" my ass. It just proves that the general Slashdot crew is fundamentally clueless about this topic.

Dalia Lama does accept being a part of China. He doesn't fight for a free Tibet. But you didn't know that because you didn't read up on the issue; you just listened to Fox News. Right?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741515)

Seriously, have you studied any of the topics you are talking about? What about Chinese incursions into India, Russia, and of course Tibet? Seems like someone got a bit washed while taking a trip to the other side..

hur visste jag att du var svensk....

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741471)


The Chinese don't fly all across Europe, picking up alleged terrorists, interrogating them in the air, in order to avoid laws on torture.


Yes, they just do it at home.


The Chinese don't invade countries, going all against the UN, without a single thread of evidence for the alleged cause, like it happened in Iraq ("Weapons of mass destruction") and has it happened in Vietnam.


No, they already invade them and just keep em (did I hear Nepal?)


The Chinese don't have bases all around the world like the Americans do.


Yes, they already stretch around half the world.


If you don't like China, get the fuck out of the country. At least learn something about the country before you open your fat Mayonaisse-stinking American mouth.


dto for the US...

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741504)

How about someone makes a list of what "the Chinese" do?

Your implication by "The Chinese don't" is that "The Americans do". I'm guessing we don't need to have a discussion on generalizing the entire population of a country based on what its leaders do.

Let me start one off right:

_The Chinese Government_ runs over its own citizens with tanks when they protest.

And, by the way, next time try to get through a whole post without a prejudicial slur (i.e. "fat Mayonaisse-stinking American mouth"). I don't call your mouth "emaciated rice-and-fish-stinking." Thanks.

I can read whatever I want from any online periodical around the world. As far as I can tell, no one's censoring my media. Can you say the same? How sure are you of your conviction that America is today's Nazi regime when you're not even sure you get all the information (or even that the information you do get hasn't been modified)?

Now that I've written this and looked back, I may have to put on my tinfoil hat. Are you a propaganda plant in the ranks of Slashdot for the illustrious Chinese regime?

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

Shag (3737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741517)

"The Chinese don't have anything similar to the Guantanamo base, where alleged terrorists are held, without being given status as prisoners of war, without the right to a lawyer, in order to interrogate them with torture off American soil."

Are you qualified and authorized to make that statement? How familiar are you with how China deals with its dissident groups, like, say, Falun Gong? Most of the outside world does not know what China does or does not have in that regard, because China is not exactly forthcoming about such matters. Amnesty International [amnesty.org] notes that a lot of secrecy surrounds China's judicial system, and believes that annual figures showing over 3,000 executions may actually represent one-third or less of all those carried out.

"The Chinese don't invade countries, going all against the UN, without a single thread of evidence for the alleged cause, like it happened in Iraq ("Weapons of mass destruction") and has it happened in Vietnam."

For much of history, certainly, this was true. And in the 20th century, China itself was sadly subjected to invasion and foreign occupation. However, I seem to recall China having... erm... "assimilated," shall we say, a little country called Tibet. And I can't imagine what large, powerful neighboring country might have been supplying the Viet Minh... can you? Oh, and there's that little dispute about Taiwan, I suppose.

"I think it is time the Americans start to realize that AMERICA is today's Nazi regime, NOT China."

A lot of us realize this. A lot of us also realize that while America may be today's superpower, China is most likely tomorrow's. And we also realize (although you may not) that there's very significant cross-investment between the two countries, and that most of the "bad" things about each of the two tend to be closely related to the other.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting, if a bit impolite, dialogue.

Re:Interesting (2, Interesting)

kid_oliva (899189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741520)

Wow. How to reply to such anger. Bringing up Vietnam was a bad idea since it is known China was behind the uprising in both Vietnam and Korea. Lets not talk about what has been going on in Tibet either. I better not talk about Inner Mongolia too. Definitely should leave out what has happened to various people of different religions.

America is not perfect and most citizens know that. As for racism, that's a human condition. Should we talk about Japanese-Chinese relations. The movie Memoirs of a Geisha brought out alot of racist attitudes in China, demeaning Zhang Ziyi and calling Ken Watanabe and Japanese dog.

People's nationalism usually blinds them to the evils happening in their own country, American, Chinese, and everywhere alike.

NO (1)

ELProphet (909179) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741424)

These companies are not and SHOULD NOT be ashamed. They moved to provide the best services for ALL parties. In order:

  1. Their shareholders
  2. The people they are serving
  3. The governments they are working with

All the companies have worked in the best interests in order; first, the stock holders for providing ads (money) in these markets; second, the people they are serving in these markets (Google in my opinion the best, they tell what is being censored and provide alternative (though not foolproof) workarounds); third, the governments they are working with. They follow all US law (DMCA), and all Chinese law (censorship) as well as everything else. These companies have done the best things they can in the corporate sense, and while they may not be proud of having to censor their results, they certainly have NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Easy to criticize (0)

kid_oliva (899189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741426)

It is easy to criticize someone when you are sitting behind your keyboard all safe and compfy. We can talk about what we would do and how we would handle it, but truly what would you do in that situation. As a company you are bound by the laws of the country you do business in, there is no diplomatic immunity. If you are faced with imprisonment and possibly torture if you don't comply, just how big is your bravdo then. The fact is in Nazi Germany there were few who stood up and most lost their life. So I ask you, are you willing to die for someone else's freedom? It is one thing to die for your own, but for someone else, very few have done so.

Since when do we require companies to be ethical? (3, Insightful)

lennart78 (515598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741436)

Let me please provide the Congress with a few examples in which questions about ethical behaviour and/or shame might be appropriate:

* HP, Tektronics e.a. have supplied Iraq with militairy usefull technology, resulting in the death of allied soldiers and lots of iraqi (and kurdish) people.
* Companies like Enron and MCI/Worldcom have, by lying about revenues e.a., jeopardized jobs and savings of thousands of people who, in a climate of economical recession and outsourcing/offshoring, risk the destruction of their livelyhoods. I know, no direct fatalities, but not very nice now is it?
* Companies like Shell continue to do business in countries like Nigeria, which are known to have a bad record regarding human rights.

And don't get me started about the ethical aspects of some of the policies of the American Federal Government. (Guantanamo Bay, Weapons of Mass Destruction, dropping bombs on Civil targets).

Awesome (1)

thesnarky1 (846799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741439)

I love it when I don't have to wait for some Anonymous Coward to evoke Godwin's Law... This article's gonna save a TON of Flame Time.

"Those were legal orders under the Nazi German" (4, Insightful)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741440)

And at the time IBM had divisions in Germany.

If they wanted to do business there they had to comply.

You never saw senate hearings THEN (Especially Postwar) About their actions

China will change, it wont be a "grand" revolution, but it will change. In 50 years with the Decline of Freedom and Liberty here in the US I wouldnt be suprised in the LEAST if China were a MORE free society, (in 50 year I estimate) There are simply too many people, and the more that become educated with a market system such as china has , it will happen.

F**k yeah! (0)

ohjethuth (911851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741443)

World police!

Does this cut both ways? (5, Insightful)

DrPizza (558687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741445)

If American companies should ignore local law when operating in China, does this mean that Dutch companies should now be encouraged to sell pot in the US?

Time for a boycott, but this is going to be hard.. (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741459)

Alright, you've convinced me that it's time for a boycott of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. Now, at the very least, I need a search engine. Anyone know of a good alternative search engine I can use until they get their act together?

Re:Time for a boycott, but this is going to be har (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741529)

Sure! Have a look at http://www.baidu.com/ [baidu.com] .

And who won the discussion? (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741479)

Well, Microsoft won. By Goodwin's law.

Capitalism in the best of the worst (1, Flamebait)

Danathar (267989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741487)

It's been established for some time that capitalism is the best economic system (thus far) for providing growth and prosperity.

It's also been established that without some sort of ethical laws governing a capitalistic system it will steamroll over anybody on it's way to the singular goal of profits.

We have laws in the U.S. designed to limit the behavior of corporations (within the country) based on the ethical and moral will of the people as represented through government (mostly...don't start the hypocracy thing).

I see NO reason why a company that is based in a U.S. should NOT have to follow the same laws when setting up shop in another country (Obviously things like minimum wage would have to be modified to suit local circumstances).

If it's good for people in the U.S. then it's good for people in China. If the corporation can't set up shop there because the local government will not let them then it's THEIR loss.

another example of (-1, Flamebait)

dartarrow (930250) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741494)

america's hypcritical nature regarding censorship... and evrything else. No you do not have the right to talk about how we should give everybody every information, especially When you yourselves admit it is not always good. [bbc.co.uk]
The US government has said the images should not have been released and could incite violence.

No you do not have the rights to ask other people to respect each other's privacy when you spy on your own citizens.

Leave the chinese alone. Go clean your own backyard. There are a few iraqi dead bodies there and they're starting to stink

Kudos. (1)

Aokubidaikon (942336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741501)

If I were an American I would seriously be proud of this Lantos guy.

Godwin's Law Does Not Apply (3, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741521)

The point of Godwin's law is people who invoke the Nazis in a situation where such comparisons are out of proportion to the topic (such as best search engine).

It is unreasonable to suggest when the topic is totalitarian regimes who routinely lock people up because of their beliefs and also routinely execute people and harvest them for organs, that comparisons to Nazis are either off-topic or a sign that the argument has been lost.

TWW

The obvious answer to Lantos' question... (4, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741522)

I heard the snippet of inquisition on the radio and regardless of my feelings about Google et al's activities in China, I though the congressman's question deserved an answer which highlighted it's stupidity.

Lantos asks:

Well, IBM complied with legal orders when they cooperated with Nazi Germany. Those were legal orders under the Nazi German system...Do you think that IBM during that period had something to be ashamed of?

The answers should have been:
Are you saying that the current Chinese regime and the Nazi regime are equivalently evil? If you are then my answer to you is that not only IBM but the whole of the U.S.A had something to have been ashamed of during that period.

The U.S.A had yet to enter the war despite evidence of what the Nazi's were up to. They had yet to implement full economic sanctions against the Nazis.

If, congressman, you believe that the Nazis and the chinese are comparable, why hasn't the U.S declared full economic sanctions against China, and why hasn't it made illegal for any U.S company to do business with that country? Why have you yet to propose that we declare war against China?

The truth is, because China is not equivalent to Nazi Germany, and your question is nonsensical.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...