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Monday, September 26, 2005

Democrats, GOP Campaign Committees Should Return Microsoft, Google Donations Until U.S. Firms Stop Helping China Suppress Speech

Democrats got the big majority of 2004 congressional donations from Microsoft and Google employees, but the campaign committees for both major parties should send every penny back to the donors.

Why? Because Microsoft and Google are among the chief U.S. tech companies enabling the Communist government of China to suppress dissent on the Internet and block free discussion of political issues among Chinese web surfers and emailers.

The bowing of these American companies to demands of the Chinese dictators make a mockery of the flowery rhetoric about how the Internet strengthens freedom of speech routinely heard from Silicon Valley firms here in the U.S.

Dave Kopel, author of "Antitrust After Microsoft," describes in a Rockey Mountain News column how Microsoft and Google are complying with the Chinese government's "Responsibility Code," which is little more than a compact between the companies and their official clients to provide the latter with technology tools to catch dissidents and suppress unapproved opinion.

Notes Kopel:

"After the Chinese government blocked Google in 2002, Google modified its Chinese search engine. Google maintains on its own servers a cache of various Web content, so a Chinese surfer previously might have been able to find forbidden content by using the Google cache, rather than reading the content directly from a banned Web site.

"In June 2005, Microsoft admitted that it had imposed filters on its Chinese weblogs to block "forbidden words" such as "freedom," "democracy" and "demonstration."

Yahoo and Cisco are also working with the Chinese government on ways authorities can use the Internet to track down political dissidents, according to Kopel. The same technology can easily be used to also suppress other unapproved movements such as evangelical Christians, whose ranks have exploded in the past decade.

USA Today reported earlier this year that its analysis of congressional campaign contribution data showed 98 percent of the contributions by Google employees went to Democrats. At Microsoft, the percentage given to Democrats was lower at 60 percent, but still represented a sizeable majority.

But why should either major U.S. political party accept donations from employees of companies working to enable official Chinese suppression of political dissidents? Considering how many dissidents have been killed or imprisoned by the Chinese government since the 1989 Tiannamen Square massacre, it is no exaggeration to refer to such donations as "blood money."

And didn't Lenin say something about the capitalists who would sell him the rope he would use to hang them?

Here's a great project for a CARR-savvy blogger to undertake: Go through the FEC records and compile the percentages and totals of contributions to the major parties' 2004 congressional campaign committees by employees of Silicon Valley companies doing business in China.

UPDATE:

Yahoo reports on new official controls announced by the Chinese government Sunday. The controls are aimed at insuring Internet-based news reporting "be directed toward serving the people and socialism and insist on correct guidance of public opinion for maintaining national and public interests."

It's good that Yahoo is reporting this fact, but did you notice what is conspicuously missing from the story? Can you imagine the uproar that would ensue if The New York Times reported the Bush administration was implementing new controls on coverage of the White House but neglected to include the fact the Times was providing editorial archiving for the controls?