Thursday, January 05, 2006

The China Blogger

Last time I looked, the issue of the Chinese blogger was not getting as much attention in Robert Scoble's blog. Robert did mention in this post [Link to Scoble post] a post by Michael Connolly, a product unit manager on MSN Spaces [Link to Connolly's post]:

"In China, there is a unique issue for our entire industry: there are certain aspects of speech in China that are regulated by the government. We’ve made a choice to run a service in China, and to do that, we need to adhere to local regulations and laws."

I guess that is the $64,000 question. When a company hosts a blogger, like MSN spaces does, and that blogger's content is theoretically able to be read world wide, and that company is a multi-national, is it an American company or a Chinese company? Does it adhere to American values of free speech or something less? These are serious issues. Let us not forget Tiananmen Square or the repression of Falun Gong. I used to work with a fellow who was imprisoned in China for 18 years for the crime of being educated in the west.

If these are indeed "Naked Conversations" that companies like Microsoft/MSN are enabling I wonder:

  • Will Microsoft enable politically sensitive conversations even if doing so threatens a huge market, such as China?
  • Or, will the company instead cater to the whims of a repressive government?
  • If so, will executives use excuses like "we were just following orders" and/or we need to "adhere to local regulations and laws?"
  • Will Scoble keep the heat on?
  • If Anti, the blogger from China, took up Scoble's offer to let Anti use Scoble's blog, would Scoble still do it?
  • If Anti, the blogger from China, took up Scoble's offer use Scoble's blog, and Scoble did it, would Microsoft fire Scoble?
  • Or, will this just fade away in all the excitement of the CES and MacWorld?
  • My money is on the latter.

Hey folks, this is much bigger than CES and MacWorld or any trade show here! Americans and also good freedom loving folks from China have died fighting for these values. Can we really let this issue just fade away?

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