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Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, in a speech to oil company executives in Houston on Thursday, criticized Google for its threats to leave China after cyberattacks allegedly launched by Chinese hackers.
"People are always trying to break into other people's data," said Ballmer. "There's always somebody trying to break into Microsoft."
Ballmer suggested that Google's decision to no longer filter out internet searches objectionable to the Chinese government was an irrational business decision. After all, Ballmer said, the U.S. imports oil from Saudi Arabia despite the censorship that goes on in that country
I don't see why Steve Ballmer decided to talk about Google.
Yes cyber attacks take place all the time against big companies like Google and Microsoft, but conditions change when the cyber attack is done to benefit a government's effort to silence dissidents.
Would Ballmer be saying the same thing if MSFT had a presence in say Iran and MSFT had been attacked by Iranian operatives out to secure IP and information on Iranian dissidents with the same level of sophistication as those who hit Google? I bet not.
Not everything should be about making a profit at any cost, sometimes a company should stop and think if they really want to enable an authoritarian regime. Maybe, Darth Ballmer as been working for the Evil Empire for too long to realize how evil the quest for profits at any cost is.
Second, I believe that Google has around 35% market share in China, Baidu having 60%. So, while that's an awful lot of users it still doesn't make Google the top dog in China. Which also means that if Google leaves China, Baidu will surge to monopoly, and that makes a potential decision to leave ... stupid, business-wise.
IMHO, the Google "threat" to leave is hot air, only stated for the occasion that they might eventually be forced to pack their bags after the political decision to decline to filter SERPS.
I personally think that any amount of censorship is too much censorship, but that's just me. Lately, people (ie. their governments) seem to have become less appreciative of their freedom in some parts of the world. A few of those, English-speaking btw (UK, AUS, NZ...)
(As for GOOG vs MS they are two sides of the same coin. None is more or less evil than the other, suggesting otherwise is myopic)
just my 2 cents
[edited by: claus at 8:45 pm (utc) on Jan. 26, 2010]
"The U.S. is the most extreme when it comes to free speech," said Ballmer, noting however that even the U.S. bans child #*$!ography, while France bans internet access to Nazi imagery.
He does have a point when it comes to censorship. I am not equating the right to read Mein Kamph with knowing about Tien An Men, but both are censorship.
Not sure why he bothers with it, but then I fail to see _any_ logic in the dude at all.
Personally the great firewall of china might be made two way: why let them on the Internet to start with? What good has come from there for me, or most of us ?
In fact quite a few of my sites ban visits from China in order to avoid all sorts of trouble.
"The U.S. is the most extreme when it comes to free speech," said Ballmer
Talk is cheap. I'm not convinced he's actually right. I agree with Mr. Ballmer that the U.S. has much less visible internet censorship than China, but that could be said about most countries of the globe. However, I don't think the U.S. is "the most extreme" in Free Speech, although it's certainly still among the relatively free regions of the world.
However, freedom is fragile. I certainly hope that Mr. Ballmer, as well as my U.S. fellow members here will work actively to make his suggestion come true.
The point Mr. Ballmer should have made in stead is this:
A Microsoft Word program don't give a d**n about what I write on my pages, what kind of pictures I put in my letter, or who I send it to. That, is free speech. Zero censorship.
In my opinion, that is how free the internet should be. Either there is zero censorship, or there is too much censorship.
a country like Saudi Arabia still new (compared to countries ages), 80% of censorship happening there is by a USA Government pressure lol.
Countries self-interest play big role here, when USA need oil, it don't care if Saudi Gov even make a censorship on Saudi people underwear's color.
I hate when business men acting like angels!
But it shouldn't be the single reason for a company to stop its commercial activities in a certain country. I personally doubt it is the single reason. In my opinion Google either uses it as an argument for a decision they already made on other (commercial?) grounds to leave China, or they think that they have so much power that their decision can change the Chinese government in their approach to censorship.
If they think the latter, they will certainly have to move out of China. Many governments can be influenced by threats of large companies or careful lobbying, but the Chinese government has a very strict top-down approach.
Although it is not official, there are without doubt hack attempts sponsored, or at least allowed by the US government against the IT systems of some countries like Iran, North Korea etc.
That's true but the Chinese attack against western companies (it was far more than just Google) remains the largest and most sophisticated attack in history against a non governement organization. There is no precident for it, and some kind of response was necessary IMO.
You ought to hang around a better class of business men. You could learn to enjoy it.
But in the meantime, here's something for you to REALLY hate, a reminder that bigotry against business men is not always well founded, and not all companies are alike: Sun Computers signs off with a message from its founder:
"Sun did not cheat, lie, or break the rule of law or decency. While we enjoyed breaking the rules of conventional wisdom and archaic business practice, and for sure loved to win in the market, we did so with a solid reputation for integrity. Nearly three decades of competing without a notable incident of our folks going off course morally or legally. Not all executives and big companies are bad. Really. There are good companies out there. Special thanks to all of my employees for this. I never had to hide the newspaper in shame from my children."
Thanks, Scott McNealy, for some really good products, for some fine standards, and for saying what Ballmer and Gates will never be able to.