Microsoft, as was mentioned before, is not going to pull out of China and has actually spoken up against Google’s stance. Ballmer called their stand against censorship an irrational business decision.
In fact, Google founder Sergei Brin (born in Moscow in the USSR) has long championed against working in China, encountering resistance from Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The Independent details some of Brin’s history and his difficulties with Google’s work in China.
Microsoft’s take appears to resonate with Google’s CEO. It appears to also echo the political stand that favors “engagement” with oppressive regimes over the principled rejection of any oppression. Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates, CEO Steve Ballmer, and Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie have all rejected pulling out of China.
In contrast, Twitter cofounder and CEO Evan Williams elaborated at the World Economic Forum on Twitter’s plans to make the service less prone to censorship such as has been attempted in China and Iran. In fact, on 9 December 2009, a Chinese lawyer was jailed briefly for teaching about Twitter and how to use it.
What makes this interesting is the far-reaching impact that Google’s hack and response is having. Politicians are talking about stands against China; diplomats are reconsidering US-Chinese relations; companies are reconsidering their Chinese operations; security specialists are considering new computer security implications; and some are worrying about their Chinese jobs. Censorship is being discussed like never before.
One organization dedicated to freedom of the press around the world is Reporters Sans Frontieres (www.rsf.org). RSF has an extensive section about China, as well as other countries. They have also published a guide for cyber-dissidents as well.