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Microsoft Violates Human Rights in China 642

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thats-just-plain-scary dept.
gexen writes "According to this article in The Guardian, 'Amnesty believes Microsoft is in violation of a new United Nations Human Rights code for multinationals which says businesses should 'seek to ensure that the goods and services they provide will not be used to abuse human rights'. The article basically states that 'Gate's firm supplied technology used to trap Chinese dissidents'."
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Microsoft Violates Human Rights in China

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  • by 26199 (577806) * on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:16AM (#8150648) Homepage

    It's not Microsoft doing the violating, it's the people using their software.

    Is open source software never used for anything bad?

    • by FyRE666 (263011) * on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:20AM (#8150687) Homepage
      Is open source software never used for anything bad?

      You're right, possibly the worst case being here [caldera.com]. For some reason the site seems down right now though...
      • sharp@bart sharp $ hostx caldera.com
        caldera.com A 216.250.128.12
        sharp@bart sharp $ hostx sco.com
        sco.com A 216.250.128.12

        That might explain it.
      • by bonch (38532) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @08:33PM (#8154632)
        I've seen a lot of biased headlines since I started visiting Slashdot in the 90s. But seeing "Microsoft Violates Human Rights In China" because bad people might be using their software takes the cake.

        Where is the "Open Source Violates Human Rights In China," since there is a China Linux distribution and all? Or did we conveniently forget about that? How stupid.
    • You're right. This is a ridiculous bid for attention and nonsense demonizing on the part of Amnesty International. This sort of thing is going to destroy their credibility.
      • by petabyte (238821) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:32AM (#8150775)
        Ridiculous bid for attention? What? All AI reports read like this. They cricize human rights violations no matter who it is or the situation. Their job as they've set it out for themselves is to defend human rights and this article is a fair criticism of US companies (Nortel and Cisco are also mentioned but slashdot was good enough to not mention them) that make a good deal of money building censor networks in other countries.

        How would you feel if they were building those networks of censorship here?
        • That is true. AI has had a history of being fair more often than not. In fact, they published something a while ago to the effect of saying that in spite of the criticism of human rights by the US government, the state of Texas has a higher per-capita execution rate than China. Something to think about, heh?
        • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @01:38PM (#8151546) Homepage Journal
          I do think that companies should be held accountable to who the sell to, particularly if they know what it will be used for.

          Granted, the company doesn't always know how the user will use it, and can't control that, but if they know what will happen then the ethical thing would be to refuse services. It is really too bad that companies are more worried about the next quarter than how their actions will go into history books.

          Would any software or network company think that history would treat them well if they sold software and equipment that was used to round up and massacre dissidents? Heck, many US companies dealt with Germany and in my opinion, openly abetted in human rights abuses, although I will grant, none of those companies caught sufficient hell for what they did, but now is a time to start.

          Why would it be so wrong to scale that down to lesser crimes against humanity?
      • by Homology (639438) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:50AM (#8150895)
        This is a ridiculous bid for attention and nonsense demonizing on the part of Amnesty International.

        People needs to be able to make a distinction between by a producer making a product that might be abused, and a producer that tailor a product for human right violations.

        I do not claim that Microsoft does that, but bear in mind that Microsoft is a champion of DRM (under various names) to control and monitor users. So I would not put it past them to do what Amnesty International suspect them of doing.

        DRM is all about producer control using private keys that you, the user, has no access to. Contrast this to Cryptography [openbsd.org] where strong cryptography can be used to ensure your privacy and that you are in control.

      • Going to?? You mean they still have some credibility to destroy? When the F did that happen? I must have been face-down asleep at my keyboard for about 20 years...

      • by praksys (246544) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:10PM (#8151788) Homepage
        You should read the reports by AI rather than this half-assed newspaper report. You can get the original reports here [amnesty.org] and here [amnesty.org]:

        Nothing in these reports is "ridiculous". The claims that AI makes are well documented, and are justified concerns about human rights violations. Most of each report is concerned with what the Chinese government is doing, and not with what anyone outside of China might be doing to aid and abet these crimes. They do not acuse foreign companies of human rights violations, but they do ask that those companies exercise some responsibilty when they sell products to China. Comments from the companies in question make it quite clear that they are not even willing to ask whether their products will be used for censorship purposes, let alone refuse to do business when the answerr is "yes".
    • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:23AM (#8150710) Homepage
      That depends on if MS provided technology *specifically* for the purpose of trapping dissidents... if that were the case then MS would indeed have been a direct party to the violation of human rights in China.
    • by LBArrettAnderson (655246) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:23AM (#8150712)
      The entire artical is ridiculous.

      An Amnesty International report has cited Microsoft among a clutch of leading computer firms heavily criticised for helping to fuel 'a dramatic rise in the number of people detained or sentenced for internet-related offences'.

      So pretty much Gates an MicroSoft are evil because they made Windows and people use it to go on the internet sometimes, and some of those people commit crimes on the internet.
      • Crimes as heinous as peaceful organization of pro-democracy rallies.

        How we, as 'liberators' have seeemed to ignore China after Tiananmen Square confuses and alarms me.
      • So pretty much Gates an MicroSoft are evil because they made Windows and people use it to go on the internet sometimes, and some of those people commit crimes on the internet.

        Yes!

        haven't you watched how the anti-gun nuts use that same stance to sue gun manufacturers and make it extremely difficult for legitimate gun buyers to buy guns?

        how about the stigma assigned by the anti-gun-nuts to us gun owners because of this? If we are instantly guilty for the actions of a few idiots and morons then Microsoft
        • by ppanon (16583) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @12:47PM (#8151215) Homepage Journal
          how about the stigma assigned by the anti-gun-nuts to us gun owners because of this? If we are instantly guilty for the actions of a few idiots and morons then Microsoft is instantly guilty.

          The actions of "gun-nuts" usually involve trying to decrease the possibility of dangerous weapons making it into the hands of those idiots and morons you mention. For some reason, most gun owners automatically think they are being targetted by those activities. Does that say something about your self-image?
    • by McAddress (673660) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:24AM (#8150717)
      Its not just Microsoft. Yahoo customized their software [guardian.co.uk] for China in order to censor certain topics. I believe google did the same.
    • You are correct! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MtViewGuy (197597) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:26AM (#8150729)
      The Chinese could have easily done the same thing with UNIX-based or Linux-based systems.

      Indeed, that's why I have concerns with Red Flag Linux and the locally-developed Dragon CPU chip; the Chinese government might have access to back doors via software and/or hardware that could make tracking of Internet surfers even easier than many people think. (wagging fingers)
    • Freesoftware isn't under corporate control. Microsoft software is.

      Nobody can demiss the right to anybody to use free software, but Microsoft can control it sales. I guess it's two very different thinks to let a country develop a repressive politic or to sell them software that help them to do it - and make profit with it.

    • Lets look at this law for a second. "Businesses should 'seek to ensure that the goods and services they provide will not be used to abuse human rights'" If you want to be really technical, Smith and Wesson and Colt Firearms are guilty of the same crime, Because their guns are used to Violate human rights.

      What about the computers running the software? I'm sure that the chinese government is not using generic parts in them. So in that regard every company that supplied parts for the computers running said mi
    • 'Gate's firm supplied technology used to trap Chinese dissidents'

      What is this 'Gate' of which you speak?

      And also, how does this justify the headling 'Microsoft Violates Human Rights in China'?
  • fp! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich.aol@com> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:17AM (#8150661) Journal
    This isn't really a surprise... this basically says that Microsoft is guilty because people use their software to violate human rights..

    How MS is responsible for that, I can't figure out...

    Prosecute the criminals, not those who make a product and have that product abused by criminals..
    • Re:fp! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by henrik (98)
      So if somebody sells weapons to terrorists, then this person is without guilt, as it is the terrorists that are using the weapons against innocent people, not the one that sold them?

      This is not the current USA policy in this matter.
    • by danwiz (538108) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @01:02PM (#8151313)
      Its been a growing trend to put responsibility on the manufacturer, instead of the people who use/abuse products. This has also been demonstrated in the US by recent law suits directly against the manufacturer of otherwise safe products. The fast food industry has even been blamed for obesity and poor eating habits!

      Its easier turn a blind eye to personal accountability when there's a highly visible (evil) corporation to blame.

      (No, I don't intend this as flame-bait, and I don't know Bill Gates personally.)

      Guns/knives/WinNt/burgers don't kill people, people kill people.

  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pingular (670773) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:17AM (#8150666)
    Companies like Nestle and Nike have been abusing human rights for years and nothing's happened.
  • No Details (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alset_tech (683716) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:18AM (#8150676) Homepage
    Of course, the article doesn't really pin down what control M$ is offering China that they didn't already have. No specifics to tell us where M$ stopped developing regular software and started aiding in HR violations.
  • by sbennett (448295) <spb@@@gentoo...org> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:20AM (#8150682)
    It's hard to see how Microsoft can win. If they make software that can be used to censor internet access and sell it to China, then they're aiding in human rights violations. If they make it and don't sell it to China, then they get accused of discrimination. If their software can't censor internet access, then the majority of public schools and libraries can't use it.
    • It's easy, stop selling software and then they won't be in that situation!

      Seriously though, this does seem a bit unfair on Microsoft this time.
    • If their software can't censor internet access, then the majority of public schools and libraries can't use it.

      INteresting, I think, that Microsoft can make software that censors the internet and sell it to the US and to China. What does that really say?

    • "It's hard to see how Microsoft can win. If they make software that can be used to censor internet access and sell it to China, then they're aiding in human rights violations. If they make it and don't sell it to China, then they get accused of discrimination. If their software can't censor internet access, then the majority of public schools and libraries can't use it."

      What's your point? That very same argument can be applied to any sort of trade, and nobody is arguing that gun manufacturers are being dis
  • Is that all they do is complain, but provide no answers to human rights violators.

    They are against Nixonian engagement (trade with China), against embargos/sanctions (Cuba), and against military intervention to overthrow murderous dictators (Iraq).

    Too bad Amnesty just likes to whine and doesn't have any solutions.

    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @12:59PM (#8151290) Homepage Journal
      Actually, unless they've changed radically in the last ten years (I've been out of touch with them), not a single one of those are Amnesty policies. You just made them up.

      They are against punishment without fair trials, against punishments for expressing a viewpoint, and against torture and the death penalty.

      They are not against war per-se, and were even accused in '90-91 of promoting the Gulf War by some left-wing extremists after they published reports demanding to know why it takes an invasion of a neighbouring country to get other governments riled about Iraq's human rights violations, and a rather emotive story about Iraqi soldiers removing babies from incubators that turned out to be a hoax (Amnesty was a victim of that hoax, I don't mean they perpetrated it.)

      They are not against trade with China, though they frequently demand an end to companies selling instruments of torture and repression.

      I'm not aware of anything concerning them being for or against embargoes and sanctions with Cuba. They may have highlighted human rights issues in the way the embargoes have been prosecuted by the US government (people in the US fined for freedom of movement/speech issues), but I don't recall seeing them against the embargoes themselves.

      Amnesty's modus-operadi since creation has been the logic that most people who are subject to human rights abuses have those abuses occur to them because the officials that perpetrate them think that nobody will find out, and that many governments are comprised of both good people, who can help, and people who are concerned about the reputations of their countries. Amnesty publicises, usually just to the members but also general issues more widely, specific cases, and members write letters and make it clear to the governments concerned that people across the world are fully aware of the abuses that are going on. It doesn't work every time, but it does work often.

      Ironically, your "Amnesty just likes to whine and doesn't have any solutions" summary couldn't be more wrong for this specific article. Amnesty are proposing that companies be aware of the uses of their technologies and exercise more discretion when building and selling it.

      How is that not a solution?

  • by Killshot (724273) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:21AM (#8150689) Homepage
    I wouldnt blame microsoft unless it was found they were helping in a more direct way other than simply supplying software I do really dislike china though and i wish people would stop supporting them untill they clean up their act more..
  • Unless China asked Microsoft to specifically come up with software so that they could hunt down the political opposition, I would say that Microsoft has done little wrong in this case. The unnamed software/hardware could be nothing more than MS Windows. So if the China decides to use Windows for bad things, what is Gates supposed to do about it?
  • Not the Guardian (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hieronymus Howard (215725) * on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:23AM (#8150706)
    This article is not from the Guardian (a UK daily paper), it's from it's sister paper the Observer, which is published weekly on Sundays.

    The Observer has a record of stupid and ill-informed articles such as this. In one famous case it published the photo of the boss of Demon Internet, calling him a 'child pornographer', since child porn could be found in nntp feeds that Demon carried. Demon, like Microsoft, countered that it couldn't be held responsible for the actions of it's users.

    HH
    --

    • The Observer has a record of stupid and ill-informed articles such as this

      And slashdot has a record of reprinting them. Glorified link farm of inflammatory hype. Does slashdot even have staff writers, let alone reporters?
  • by petabyte (238821) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:24AM (#8150719)
    I mean come on. Yes yes, evil monopoly out to make money and their products are being used by people to violate human rights. Well, given China's iffy record on copyright enforcement, are is anyone even sure MS got paid for those products?

    MS may have a lot of problems, but I don't know how they are supposed to know a priori that certain software they sell is going to be used for human rights violations. And frankly, I think the software would be pirated even if they refused to sell it.
  • Inflamatory Title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) * <richardprice@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:25AM (#8150720)
    Sorry, but this is just picking on MS, what about Yahoo, Cisco et al? The US as a whole does a LOT of trade with China, does this also mean the US is violating human rights? Yes, certain companies are carrying out business with a bad regime, but that business is also helping to *change* the regime as it becomes more and more reliant on external business, so in the end isnt it good?

    Also this headline violates the "too many pointless capitals in a sentance" rule, me thinks.
  • by dduardo (592868) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:26AM (#8150730)
    IANAL, but the first thing that caught my eye was this line:

    "...United Nations Human Rights code for multinationals which says businesses should 'seek to ensure..."

    The UNHR code says businesses SHOULD seek to ensure their products will not abuse human rights. It doesn't say is they HAVE TO.

    I also have to agree with Microsoft when they say that they shouldn't be held liable for the way people use their software. It is like suing a golf club manufacturer because china uses their specifi c model to beat dissidents.

    ---------------
  • by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:29AM (#8150750)
    All you need to know is in the summary. The article doesn't tell what products or services of Microsoft are being used to abuse human rights and what changes in software or business practices MS should make to avoid being a tool of the oppressor.

    Here's [amnesty.org] an article at the Amnesty International website (dated 28 Jan 04) if you want more. This is the only mention of MS on that link:

    ***************
    Amnesty International remains concerned that in their pursuit of new and lucrative markets, foreign corporations may be indirectly contributing to human rights violations or at the very least failing to give adequate consideration to the human rights implications of their investments. In its first report on State Control of the Internet in China, Amnesty International cited several foreign companies (Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Websense and Sun Microsystems), which had reportedly provided technology which has been used to censor and control the use of the Internet in China.(29) [...]

    (29) Amnesty International: People's Republic of China: State Control of the Internet in China, ASA 17/007/2002, November 2002.
    ***********

    Well now I'm really confused. That report is over a year old, and there doesn't seem to be anything newer than the link I gave on this topic. It sounds like the Guardian picked up the story because it mentioned Microsoft (but not Intel - hmmm, what is the software running on?), even though the source for the MS reference is old.
  • they're completely innocent of any wrongdoing here. Significant claims require significant evidence of dirty deeds , and I see none at all.

    It's a pity that AA (who despite the badmouthing above) are a well-meaning organisation, have tried for the sensationalist argument here. A real pity - it'll reduce the effectiveness of their statements in the future.

    The other point is that it's in the (spit!) Observer, not the Guardian. The observer is the best advert for not cutting down trees that I ever did see, an
  • Is open source software exempt from this sort of criticism?

    As a coder, one of the things that makes me feel a little squeamish about the GPL is giving up the right to tell people they can't use my software for certain purposes. I'd rather my code not be used by the military to blow people up or by the KKK to serve racist webpages.
    • Racist web pages are a issue of free speech, in effect preserving rights, not violating them.

      Same story with the military, for our military at least.. they protect us, not violate.

      Oh, and if you dont like it, dont publish under a 'free use' license... pretty simple.
    • military to blow up people = not ok.

      KKK to server racist pages = yes ok.

      I'm no racist, in fact I'm jewish, but free speech is paramount.

      I don't like the trend of tool blaming that's been going on for years. Colt is not responsible when someone commits murder with one of their guns. Ford is not responsible when someone drives a F-150 drunk and kills somebody. Just because a tool you may or may not have made was used for bad things, doesn't mean its your fault in some way. I could get a hammer at home dep
  • This just in! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tokerat (150341) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:30AM (#8150762) Journal

    According to this article in The Guardian, 'Amnesty believes Ford Motors is in violation of a new United Nations Human Rights code for multinationals which says businesses should 'seek to ensure that the goods and services they provide will not be used to abuse human rights'. The article basically states that '[the] firm supplied technology used to run over Chinese dissidents'.
    I hate Microsoft because of their product quality, and strong-arm market dominance tactics. Honestly, however, what the HELL is Amnesty thinking? I do believe I'd have to say that Redmond is in the clear on this one...

    I mean, did the conversation go like this or something?

    China: Hello? We need OS package for five hundred government computer!
    Microsoft: Alright, would you like Windows 2000 or Windows XP Professional?
    China: Whichever one better for trapping dissidents!
  • Yes, and IBM... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by reynolds_john (242657) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:31AM (#8150767)
    was shpping mainframes to Germany to track Jews during WWII, and Ford was a raving anti-semite.

    Neither seems to have had any impression on the company over the long haul, unforutnately.
  • I wonder how specific the "Microsoft Human Rights Abuser 2003" software and the Cisco stuff mentioned really is. It doesn't really take esoteric tools to keyword search sites, monitor net usage, and filter them out with proxies and firewalls.

    After all, companies have been doing this for years on their internal networks, is this just a scaled up version?

    From the article:

    Amnesty believes Microsoft is in violation of a new United Nations Human Rights code for multinationals which says businesses should 'se

  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:32AM (#8150778) Homepage Journal
    Evil tyrannical governments kill people.
  • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:33AM (#8150789) Journal
    From Amnesty directly;

    http://news.amnesty.org/mav/index/ENGASA170052004 [amnesty.org]

    "In its report, the organization also refers to several companies, including Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Websense and Sun Microsystems, which have reportedly provided technology which has been used to censor and control the use of the Internet in China. Amnesty International fears that by selling such technology the companies did not give adequate consideration to the human rights implications of their investments."

    Things to note:
    1. There are many other companies mentioned here too.
    2. If they did not buy the technology from these companies they would have gotten it from OpenSource for free.
    3. Its not about profits. Its about using technology for "evil", which OpenSource stuff can do.
  • Shouldn't it be Chinese Government and authorities that's to be blamed for violating human rights, before blaming world's richest man? Maybe MS should pull their business from the chinese region so that they won't be blamed. Market share won't fall thanks to piracy in China.
  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:35AM (#8150804)
    ...And in fact, it could be worse in terms of tracking Internet usage!

    Does anyone here know about Red Flag Linux and the locally-developed Dragon RISC CPU? Given that both are sanctioned by the Chinese government, you have to really openly wonder does the Chinese government have access to back doors via software and/or hardware that will allow them to quickly track Internet usage with Red Flag Linux and the Dragon CPU-based hardware.
  • by John Seminal (698722) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:37AM (#8150819) Journal
    Cisco Systems, which has also been named in the Amnesty report, has in the past denied that it tailors products for the Chinese market and has said: 'If the government of China wants to monitor the internet, that's their business. We are politically neutral.' But Allison said: 'In terms of the internet the Chinese government is arresting people who are doing nothing more than expressing themselves.

    What should the USA do? Ban the sale of any product which could be used to violate human rights? Or change the software so it opperates differently? I think this is a problem for the Chinese people, not USA companys.

    If we were selling guns, then the solution would be to stop selling them. But software is not the same. The end user has to decide how to use the software. There are choices.

    I also think soverign countries have a right to decide their own values. For change to occur, those who want change must vocalize it in the open, not wisper it in the dark. Then the rest of the country has a right to decide if they want change. Who are we to decide that for them, and treat them like a child? If the people of China want change bad enough, they will fight for it.

    Or maybe we can just get Miscrosoft to tweak the EULA. ;)

  • no good.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tasinet (747465) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:38AM (#8150822)
    This article was misleading.
    The title made me skip a heartbeat and prepared me to grab a gun and start screaming, but all it actualy said was that Micro$oft $oftware was used to abuse rights in China.
    Duh, someone wanted an article about nothing and he got it!
    If Microsoft abuses human rights because its product abuse human rights, then what does H&K and other weapon producers do? What about Nike which pays 14 cents an hour for shoe manufacturing in Malaysia, without giving a shyte about enviromental damage.

    Dont misunderstand me, im generally as anti-Micro$oft as it gets, but this is absurd.
  • by gubachwa (716303) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:39AM (#8150834)
    A similar claim was levelled against IBM and the role that in helping the Nazis. According to Edwin Black, author of _IBM and the Holocaust_, IBM supplied equipment to the Nazi's for tracking and sorting prisoners in their concentration camps. Some people have made the argument that since IBM didn't know what its equipment was being used for, it really wasn't doing anything wrong. However, Black also contended that IBM had to maintain all the equipment it supplied, meaning that IBM engineers and other staff had to be onsite and that there was no way that they could have not known what was going on in those concentration camps.

    I think the problem with all these large companies is their choice to hide behind the almighty buck. Capitalism reigns supreme. `Hey, what is it any of my business if you use my product to harm or kill people? Just as long as you pay up.'

    I'm not implying that companies are responsible for finding out every last detail of how their product will be used when they sell it to a customer. However, I do think that turning a blind-eye to how their product will be used when it's fairly obvious that it will be employed in unethical ends is wrong.

  • by herko_cl (533936) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:43AM (#8150854)
    Wow, if this isn't one of the largest trolls I've seen. Most slashdotters, at least most vocal slashdotters, really despise Microsoft and think their software is low-quality, expensive, insecure, and, some argue, just plain evil. Just look at the Gates-as-Borg icon...
    If the Chinese violate human rights using MS software, well, it's not MS's fault. The Chinese are said to be heavy proponents of Linux and are developing their own distro. What happens in China is not Linus' fault either! Slashdot folk wisdom is right on this one: blame the person, not the tool. I can barely imagine the next article... "China uses gloves to slap dissidents; glove manufacturers blamed"
    I know human rights abuse is a very serious issue and people die over such things. I think it's irresponsible to trivialize it by blaming a software manufacturer, even if it's MS.
    OK, rant done. Go ahead, mod me down :-)
  • by thewiz (24994) * on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:44AM (#8150863)
    and once a tool is created the user assumes the responsibility for how it is used. Any tool can be turned into a weapon if the user is so inclined. A hammer to can be used to build a house or bash someones head in. Explosives can be used to create a sculpture (Mt. Rushmore) or used to destroy a building. A packet sniffer can be used to solve a network problem or steal user IDs and passwords.

    It's unfortunate that the Chinese government chooses to use Microsoft's product to track down and punish people who don't think like they do. But, never thought I'd say this, it is NOT Microsoft's fault that the Chinese government has chosen to use their products in this fashion. Just remember that they could have chosen to use OSS instead.
  • In other news, the Montana Evergreen Forst Council was fined $50 mil for providing the wood that was used to make the paper that was used to advertise the sporting goods store that sold the gun that was used to shoot and kill a man. Says the spokestree, Great Pine, "it's really not our fault -- the blame lies with God for making us the way we are." Attempts to subpoena this "God" have been largely unsuccessful, due to his unproven existence.

    Man, I like to blame by burnt breakfast on MS, but I think they
  • by D4MO (78537) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:54AM (#8150919)
    The Earth's hydrogen cycle has been blamed for violating United Nations Human Rights codes by supplying fresh drinking water that help keep Chinese goverment officals alive while they seek dissidents.
  • by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @12:05PM (#8150977) Homepage

    How do we know that free software isn't being used to violate human rights somewhere? I suspect you'll find that Linux, Apache, Sendmail, and other "free" tools have been used by drug dealers, slave merchants, religious fundamentalists, and totalitarian governments.

    I don't see any prohibition in the GPL that prevents the use of "free" software for "immoral" purposes -- and such a clause (like many existing clauses of the GPL) would be completely unenforcable.

    I dislike Microsoft for many reasons -- but this sort of posting on Slashdot smacks of sensationalism, ala Matt Drudge. Shame on you for spreading FUD.

    • But free software is created by the people...without the goverment's sanction. The people individually did it on their own as Citizens. Multinational corporations are created under charter of the US government to do what's good for the US people! Selling spy systems to Communist governments is NOT good for the US people!!! The difference it that corporations are selling this stuff [i.e. collecting legal money] for profit not simply providing "free speech" software. In many cases, there are corperate con
  • by originalhack (142366) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @12:12PM (#8151017)
    In 1994, the US government imposed technical requirements on telecom carriers [askcalea.net] that automatically became mandatory features on every equipment provider selling to US telecom carriers. Since almost all such equipment is sold worldwide, that means that additional repressive technology is being forced into the hands of all repressive governemnts worldwide. (Including our current administration)

    Note that CALEA is about making the technology capable of snooping rather than authorizing that snooping to be done. In the US, it takes further bad legislation like the Patriot act to authorize the snooping. CALEA just makes it (too) easy.

  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ridgelift (228977) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @12:20PM (#8151062)
    Someone should email Bill Gates a link to this discussion...the Slashdot croud is on _his_ side on an issue.

    Guess I'd better sharpen my skates, hell is freezing over.
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @12:27PM (#8151099) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft Violates Human Rights in China

    So they've started doing it over there now, have they?
  • Stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stile 65 (722451) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @12:33PM (#8151131) Homepage Journal
    Any company which supplies equipment or software to China in order to promote Internet use will have its software/equipment used to jail dissidents. That comes as a direct result of the fact that with the Internet, more dissent is possible. In a way, the only reason China is able to use the Internet (and software from US vendors) to jail dissidents is that the Internet and that software provide a means more powerful than any previously in existence to spread dissent.
  • Slashdotters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anik315 (585913) <anik@alphaco r . n et> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @01:01PM (#8151304)
    Slashdotters are associated with being anti-Microsoft, but when some bs like this comes up, for the most part, we recognize it as bs.

    And this is the only way our criticisms of Microsoft's stagnant software ever gets taken seriously... I think they do listen to us sortof...
  • by fzammett (255288) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @03:05PM (#8152241) Homepage
    There are many, many things MS does that deserve our scrutiny, scorn and seeking of alternatives. Even I as someone that generally speaking doesn't have a huge problem with MS certainly has issues with them.

    But this is just nuts. Let me think this through...

    Now we WANT MS to track people, to investigate them and to make sure they aren't doing anything wrong with their products? And who should determine what is the right thing and what is the wrong thing? MS?

    And if they add DRM to all their products, is it OK that you can't activate a product unless you certify that you won't kill anyone, spy on them or otherwise abuse their civil liberties?

    Man, talk about a no-win scenario for a big corporation. We hate'em if they intrude on us too much, we hate them if they don't intrude ENOUGH apparantly.

    Sorry, MS didn't do a damned thing wrong here, and saying otherwise in this one instance is just plain nuts.
  • What about Linux? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekee (591277) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @04:32PM (#8152844)
    Linux is used extensively in China. Therefore the OSS community is most likely as guilty as Microsoft. They haven't made any effort to restrict software use by the Chinese govt. I'm all for boycotting China until they reform their system, but singling out Microsoft, who writes a generic operating system as well as tools to write software, is just empty rhetoric. You might as well add Intel, AMD, a dozen motherboard makers, Cisco, etc. to the list.

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