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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

It is not the moral ambiguity but the reality

Absolutely, Perry, I couldn’t agree more though moral (un)ambiguity of collaborating (via commerce or otherwise) with a repressive regime was not in question at all. My point was either you condemn Yahoo! for doing business with China in the first place or boycott them all, not just Yahoo! as other global companies are guilty of the association with or assistance to the Chinese government.

The argument that Yahoo!’s measures are “analogous to Coca Cola agreeing to embed a recording device in each bottle so that the state can hear what each person is talking about whilst they sip their drink” does not fairly capture the moral charge of the comparison. Yahoo!’s business is communication, mediation and information and these are not intrinsic to Coca Cola’s business. That is, Yahoo! by the very nature of its business has to comply with the Chinese government requirements or not do any business at all. If Coca Cola company installed listening devices into its bottles, it would amount to a step beyond the one Yahoo has taken in agreeing to allow monitoring of its services de jure, so to speak, (which the Chinese officials can carry out de facto anyway).

As with Coca Cola, it is communism’s hapless victim for the most part who are able to surf the internet even in its truncated form. And they know very well (or should) what their government is capable of and will not (or should not) be using it in a way that will expose them or get them into trouble. For example, in the Cold War days dissidents knew that phones were not reliable and tried to use them ‘safely’, i.e. in a way difficult for authorities to decypher.

Again, I agree that it was wrong for Yahoo! to take that step and do prefer Microsoft’s hard headed approach (there is a first for everything!). So, boycott Yahoo! alongside those companies who in dealing with China help its officials to repress their victims instead of treating Yahoo! as the only big business without a back-bone.

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