The net is buzzing with news that Microsoft is considering to pull of of non-democratic countries like China. Fred Tipson, senior policy counsel at Microsoft, said that…
…concerns over the repressive regime might force it to reconsider its business in China. “Things are getting bad… and perhaps we have to look again at our presence there,” he told a conference in Athens. “We have to decide if the persecuting of bloggers reaches a point that it’s unacceptable to do business there.” “We try to define those levels and the trends are not good there at the moment. It’s a moving target.”
Now that’s some serious news. Quite a few major global player have been accused of “complying” to Chinese (and other regimes’ laws) a bit too strictly. Cisco for example, according to Reporters Without Borders, have been selling tweaked routers to China that would allow police to identify who visits banned sites and who sends “dangerous” e-mail messages. Google has been under fire for censoring their search results. Microsoft and Yahoo have been censoring their blog tools, too.
It’s those global corporations that have the power to intervene and enforce freedom of speech on China and other repressive regimes. And it’s quite important for that to happen quickly, as long as the economies in those countries need to rely on the global players for their own economic growth. As of now, this gives the big boys the necessary leverage to have a serious word with China’s government.
So seeing Microsoft (Microsoft of all companies!) stand up for human rights issues came as a big surprise for me, if a very good one. The things are a-changin’, huh? (Link to the BBC article)