Time Magazine’s Person of the Year Bill Gates may be great for charity but he is questionable when it comes to democracy. In depressing news from the AP:
Microsoft Corp. has shut down the Internet journal of a Chinese blogger that discussed politically sensitive issues, including a recent strike at a Beijing newspaper.
The action came amid criticism by free-speech activists of foreign technology companies that help the communist government enforce censorship or silence dissent in order to be allowed into China’s market.
The article is referring to the other biggies Google and Yahoo who have also lately been caught putting profit over democratic freedoms and human rights. Yahoo was recently criticized by Reporters Without Borders for supplying information to the Chinese government which led to a journalist being sentenced to ten years in prison. Microsoft has been censoring the word “democracy” from their Chinese blogging software.
The problem we are dealing with is the borderless Internet mega-corporation responsible only to its stockholders (although one wonders what they would think about all this). But the situation is exceptionally tricky. China is bad enough, but consider Iran where bloggers pay an integral part in the struggle for freedom. Would Microsoft draw the line at cooperating with the Mullahs? I hate to say it, but I’m dubious.