By Harry McCracken | Monday, January 25, 2010 at 11:50 am
Now Bill Gates has joined Steve Ballmer in seemingly contending that Chinese censorship of the Internet isn’t that big a deal:
You’ve got to decide: Do you want to obey the laws of the countries you’re in, or not? If not, you may not end up doing business there…
The Chinese efforts to censor the Internet have been very limited. It’s easy to go around it, and so I think keeping the Internet thriving there is very important.
You can certainly make the case that by staying in China, U.S. Internet businesses are more likely to bring about greater freedom of expression than if they refuse to abide by censorship laws and abandon the country. And Gates is right that the Great Firewall of China is easy to circumvent. But I’ve used the Internet in China–as, surely, has Bill Gates–and I wouldn’t call the censorship “very limited…”