August 26, 2008

US Technology in China

I am disappointed in Yahoo!, Cisco, Google and Microsoft and for the most part in that order. These are the companies that the US Congress called before a hearing to talk about their involvement in furthering local restrictions in China.

Yahoo!/Google/Microsoft - limited their search engines within China to comply with Chinese political regulations regarding searches on documents, web pages and images and worked with the Chinese to help provide data on dissidents and other political fugitives which lead to their imprisonment. A famous case where a man sent embarrassing internal Chinese documents on how to limit political dissidence was sent to a newspaper in New York. When the Chinese government asked for information regarding the person who gave the information, Yahoo! gave them data giving the Chinese the location of the person who was subsequently jailed for I think it was 10 years.

Cisco - Actively sells networking technology to China's police and internal monitoring force. I agree that this kind of business is not necessarily wrong as companies have the right to sell their products to willing buyers whatever the product maybe BUT In this case there is a law as specific as you can get passed in 1989 that states that US companies may not sell any kind of equipment to Chinese police forces that aid in the capture or prosecution of criminals. Cisco sells cameras, radio links in between cars and from cars to HQ and back and pretty much is becoming the big brother of China. I don't know about you but that is in direct violation of the law. In many ways you look it is much the same as Yahoo!'s activity in turning over political criminals, Cisco is the way that Chinese police track down their fugitives.

Yahoo! is number one for that blatant cooperation with Chinese officals
Cisco is number two because their are obviously breaking the law
Google is number three because I expect more from them. As a company that stands against limitations on net neutrality and tries to be a good internet citizen or a good employer with fun atmosphere and the whatnot they had the posture to stand up to China and they did not. Maybe Google is number one, they could have stopped it and they did not for what reason I do not know, respect for local "customs"? fear of losing business in a huge developing technology market?
Microsoft is number four not because they are somehow less guilty but because I don't see them as the moral company on the internet and because they are as of late actually beginning to think about putting limits on their own limitations, good for them

Anriette Esterhuysen, the Executive Director of the Association for Progressive Communications said that, "I don't think we should make corporations responsible for securing our freedoms." Companies like Google and Yahoo! do not just provide searching capabilities, they are the way that people get information through the highest achievement in the connectivity of human kind ever concieved. They are not just corporations in the traditional sense anymore, we can't keep thinking that. In the same way I can't sell weapons to the Chinese police force under federal law, I should not be able to sell weapons of information to Chinese internal security which is exactly what Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Cisco are doing. In this day who is to say which kind of weapon is more effective?