Microsoft should follow Google and drop censorship in China

Kudos to Google for finally standing up to the Chinese government, refusing to cooperate with Chinese censorship, and possibly pulling out of China altogether if it can't operate without censorship. Now it's time for Microsoft's Bing to follow suit.

Google announced that it will stop censoring its search results in China, and may pull out of the country altogether. That move came after a "highly sophisticated and targeted" attack from China targeted Google and the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer wrote in a blog post:

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

This is one of the most courageous moves I can remember any tech company taking, particularly because the revenue implications over the long term are substantial. China has the largest number of Internet users in the world, and its growth will only accelerate. Google is opting for morality over profits in this case, clearly living up to its motto "Don't be evil."

Microsoft should follow suit, and do the same thing with Bing. There are more important things in this world than profit, freedom being among them. Microsoft should join Google and stand on the side of the good.

Apple is guilty as well, as I point out in my post, Apple: Still kowtowing to Chinese censorship.

Update: A former Microsoft executive played a key role in Google's Chinese venture; his quitting Google last year may have signaled the impending battle beween Google and the Chinese government.  For details, see The little-known Microsoft connection in the Google-China cyberwar.

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