How’s this for spin? A Chinese official today defended the country’s Internet censorship practices, saying the controls don’t differ much from those used in the United States or Europe (free registration required).
That statement comes as the Bush administration is reportedly turning up the heat on China to lift Internet restrictions. It also comes just a day before executives from Cisco, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are scheduled to appear before the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Global Human Rights to discuss their dealings with China. Those companies have agreed to censor their Web pages or provided hardware for Chinese firewalls.
The question is, how should these U.S. companies be dealing with China?
Yahoo yesterday released a statement emphasizing its commitment to open access to information and outlining its approach to some “challenging and complex questions” that come as part of doing business in places such as China. But what’s the point of these grand statements of principle? Google has taken particularly harsh criticism for agreeing to censor its results because of its motto “Don’t Be Evil” and because it was the sole company among the top three search engines to refuse to pass its search logs to the U.S. government.
How do you feel about companies acquiescing to Chinese censorship? Is business in China worth the ethical compromises involved?