Saturday, March 03, 2018

Cry me a river!

In my life, I have successfully (?) managed to piss quite a few people off my real world and cyber interactions.  Especially after 63 million voted for an avowed white supremacist in the November 2016 elections.

One guy, Lao Ming Zhi, continues to hang around; let's see when I manage to piss him off too ;)

A calm guy, he is pissed off--not at me though.  It is about a case that the US Supreme Court will soon decide on--Microsoft rejected the US Justice Department's warrant to produce emails from a suspected drug trafficker's account.  The company, whose global headquarters are only a couple of hundred miles from where I live, argued that the emails are stored in a data center in Ireland and, therefore, the US government is engaging in unlawful extraterritorial reach.  By this summer, the SCOTUS will rule on this.

I had to restrict my comments within the scope of his blog--which is all about business--and the scope of his post.  And, so, will bring the rest of the story here.

It is a joke when a corporation like Microsoft tries to act all saintly.  Ethics is rarely their concern. "Business ethics" is one of the best oxymorons ever.  Respect for individuals' rights is not in their charters.  If it adds to their profits, they will sell my soul to the Devil in a nanosecond; the only reason they have not done so yet is because the Devil is also pissed off at me ;)

I have no tears for Microsoft is all I am saying.

Microsoft, like all other big tech companies, has been a willing participant in the Chinese government's harassment of its citizens.  Harassment is a vast understatement.  It has been documented by many human rights organizations.  But, the tech companies do not care.  Remember that "business ethics" is not their concern as long as profits can be made.

With age, Microsoft is becoming more responsible.  But then there are other Microsofts that have sprung up--Facebook, Google, ... Profit is the bottom-line.

After all these years of the tech companies playing by China's rules, now China is pushing its cyber censorship across the globe.
For years, China has exerted digital control with a system of internet filters known as the Great Firewall, which allows authorities to limit what people see online. To broaden its censorship efforts, Beijing is venturing outside the Great Firewall and paying more attention to what its citizens are saying on non-Chinese apps and services.
This effort is accelerating as President Xi Jinping consolidates his power.
Who cares if a few million Chinese voices are stifled, right?  We need economic growth, and humans are mere resources that can be sacrificed in the pursuit of money.  In pursuing that awesome profit, today's Microsofts will do anything to prostrate before the Chinese government.
Facebook created a censorship tool it did not use and released an app in the country without putting its name to it. Apple is moving data storage for its Chinese customers into China and last year took down software that skirts China’s internet blocks from its China App Store. Google recently said it would open a new artificial intelligence lab in the country.
Often, these companies have little recourse when pressured for help by Beijing. Going to the American government could set off retaliation from China, so many have sought to navigate the situation on their own.
You see how faithful these profit-concerned companies are in complying with the Chinese government's maniacal approach, but then pretend that they are vanguards of human rights when they present themselves to the people in democratic societies?
“When I talk about technology and the internet, people normally pine for them and look forward to a future that will promote liberalization,” Mr. Sui said. “But people neglect the fact that modern authoritarianism also rises with the development of technology, which makes wider and deeper control possible.”
The good thing for Microsoft is that despite the fascist, the US continues on with the rule of law.  Because I value the rule of law, and because I value human rights, I want Microsoft to win the battle against the Justice Department. But, otherwise, please!


Ramesh said...

Oh, we could argue on this point till the cows come home and we'll never agree.

Business Ethics is not an oxymoron. The whole issue is a disagreement on what is the context and purpose of business organisations.

The job of deciding policies, laws and the social frameworks is the job of the people and governments and not businesses. Again we'll never agree on this, but .....

In the case of China, the issue of censorships is one that other world governments should take up with China - not Microsoft or Facebook. If they don't follow the rules of the Chinese government, they cannot operate there. You would argue that this is what they should do - withdraw from China. But then does the US government withdraw from China ? Do the American people stop buying Chinese products and services. The US government has far more leverage on China, but hasn't cracked the Great Firewall, one bit. So when the US government and its people are very happy to deal with China, as it is warts and all, why fault Microsoft or Facebook.

Sriram Khé said...

We disagree.