Microsoft accused of aiding human rights violation

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Vector, Jan 31, 2004.

  1. Vector macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2002

    Gates's firm supplied technology used to trap Chinese dissidents, says Amnesty

    Nick Mathiason
    Sunday February 1, 2004
    The Observer

    Technology sold by Microsoft to the Chinese government has been used by Beijing to censor the internet, and resulted in the jailing of its political opponents.


    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'.

    The human rights group has slated Bill Gates's company for an 'inadequate response' to escalating abuses in China. 'We don't believe this is appropriate or responsible,' said Mark Allison, an Amnesty International researcher who wrote the report. '[Microsoft] should be more concerned about human rights abuses and should be using its influence to lift restrictions on freedom of expression and get people out of prison. It is worrying that they don't seem to have raised these issues.'

    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'.

    China is the world's most aggressive censor of the internet. Websites are banned for using words such as 'Taiwan', 'Tibet', 'democracy', 'dissident' and 'human rights'. Amnesty has recorded dozens of cases of political opponents jailed for circulating material offensive to the Chinese government.

    Microsoft told The Observer: 'We are focused on delivering the best technology to people throughout the world. However, how that technology is used is with the individual and ultimately not in the company's control.'

    Since China was admitted to the World Trade Organisation two years ago a succession of big US technology firms have been supplying the government. Internet use in China is close to 80 million, though this is less than 10 per cent of the adult population.

    Nortel Networks said in September 2003 it plans to invest $200 million in the next three years to strengthen its research and development capabilities in China.

    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.

    It was confirmed last week that Gates is to receive an honorary knighthood. The firm is embroiled in tough negotiations over supply of software to the NHS.
  2. alset macrumors 65816


    Nov 9, 2002
    East Bay, CA
    This article doesn't really say how M$ software was used to censor. Does anyone have more info?

  3. Sol macrumors 68000


    Jan 14, 2003
    Oppression must not be tolerated

    What right does any government have to arrest people for posting their opinions on the Net? If Microsoft and other companies supplied the tools that allowed the Chinese government to commit these human right violations then they owe it to the families of those arrested to stop doing business with that client. Modern Communist states seem to be doing everything in their power to stop the spread of the Net and in the long term that is not good for their citizens or for the computer industry. Sanctions must be imposed when human rights violations like these occur.
  4. jrv3034 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 23, 2002
    Re: Oppression must not be tolerated

    Yeah, but that's like saying that WalMart can't sell food to a criminal because it's helping the person to continue a life of crime.

    Admittedly, though, the article doesn't say HOW Microsoft software was used, or misused, so I don't have enough facts to form a concrete opinion.
  5. Sol macrumors 68000


    Jan 14, 2003
    Re: Re: Oppression must not be tolerated

    Bad example. A better one might be the sale of a gun to the criminal who then robs somebody with it. If the store knows that the client has commited crimes with items purchased in the past, it becomes their responsibility not to sell any guns to him. This is the position Microsoft is in with the Chinese government.
  6. StealthRider macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2002
    Yokosuka, Japan
    It's amnesty international...they're getting their noses into EVERYTHING that even remotely might be a violation of human rights...and messing up thousand-year-old cultures while they're at it. Take this with a grain of salt.
  7. virividox macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    same thing ibm got accused of aiding the nazis...i dont think ms is to blame tho

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