American Censors in China
Opinion: Is there anything wrong with U.S. companies such as Microsoft helping China filter the Internet? The answer is less clear than it appears at first blush.Should American companies help China filter the Internet? Thats a question that came up twice in my life over the past week. In one case, I think a small Utah company is doing the right thing, while in the other I think Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Cisco are putting profits over human rights. Both of these groups provide software and/or services that impact what Chinese citizens can do on the Internet. Whats the difference? And could Microsoft, et al., really not be so bad after all? In the first case, a company called ContentWatch is doing the right thing by offering its award-winning Web filtering software to Chinese parents. When I first heard about this, I was concerned the software would be used by school officials to filter the Internet for students. Theres nothing wrong with this, per se, as theres a lot on the Internet that no child should see, regardless of nationality. Porn, it seems, is as big a problem in the Peoples Republic as anyplace else.
So it makes sense that Chinese parents and schools, just like those in the United States, would want filtering software to protect children from objectionable content. Initially, I was concerned that the software would have hidden inside it some additional filters for religious and political content.