Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have assured US politicians in the run-up to the Olympics that they are close to signing up to a new code of conduct for trading under repressive regimes. Each has written to a pair of concerned senators to offer vague promises that all that stuff about snitching on dissidents and censoring search …
it's all so much b-----ks
If we all really believed in the crap spouted about freedom and opinion and the west being the promised land why do we not allow them to all move over here as political refugees - o I know becouse it's all shite and we don't want them.
Well I say we, I mean governments and common everyday folk.
It's all well and good talking about them being free "over there" but if they come "over here" well that's just not on! We'll drown them in cockle fields and force them into the sex industry! Long live freedoms!
Will God save us from Obamamammamurmur?
Well, s/he hasn't saved us yet from lots of hot bull about democracy, so probably not. Maybe s/he's waiting until we're up to the eyeballs in it, and not while the stable is only knee-deep. To show us what a real Hero is.
The Code of Conduct - final version
1. We'll do whatever the local authorities ask because we're getting cash from that country.
2. We'll do whatever the local authorities ask because the Chinese might just be able to organise google-sized data centres on their own and that would be competition we don't want.
3. Seeing as we don't make anything any more, if China starts using free stuff and not paying royalties to Western companies, they will have all the manufacturing plants and the ip rights and we'll have nothing to sell. We fear mobile phone tech and hd-dvd is just the start. This would be quite bad, so our Governments will be drafted in to protect us.
Paris, cos the local entertainment industries aren't totally dead yet. We just wish they were.
At least something will be written down
I'm as cynical about the business ethics of large companies as the next person (provided the next person is fairly cynical). But at least this represents a tiny step forward - something will be written down, and it will provide some means to hold these companies feet to the fire. Of course it has no legal force, but public embarrassment is quite a strong force when applies properly. If the code is worded in such a way as to allow lots of wiggle room to the signatories, that still provides a wedge with which to push for better behaviour.
If the large businesses gather under such a code of conduct, other businesses may follow, and that will help tell us where a given business stands. If enough businesses stand behind one code of conduct, it might even give those companies negotiating strength against the regimes in question (though I doubt it would be used that way).
As things are, companies can wiggle and change their direction as they see fit. At least this will tie them down a little bit. It can't be worse than things are now.
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