Ballmer on China Censorship

By  |  Friday, January 22, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Did Steve Ballmer really call free speech laws in the U.S. “extreme” and draw parallels between anti-child pornography laws and China’s suppression of information relating to human rights? Or is Forbes’ account of his speech before oil industry execs an unfair recap of what he said?

 
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  1. DTNick Says:

    I interpreted that to mean that the US is more extreme in its degree openness compared to a lot of places, but even then it has some limits. What puzzles me most is this part:

    “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.”

    The difference is that Google is in the business of serving up information. The oil industry isn’t. Seems like a) Ballmer missed this bit of context, and b) refused to recognize that sometimes, some people are willing to stand on principle, even if it hurts the business.

  2. william Says:

    Did you read the quote? The statement does not say that free speech in the U.S. is extreme. It says that free speech in the U.S. is “the most extreme”, as in “the U.S has the strongest protection of free speech”.

  3. Cynic Says:

    Maybe I’m over-thinking this, but it certainly looks like you could read that as saying that one law (banning Chinese from searching on the Dalai Lama, for instance) is the moral equivalent of any other law (say, limiting what kind of porn Americans can legally surf) because, hey, they’re both laws, so equally valid. Never mind the content or intent of the laws.

    It’s an obtuse way for Ballmer to make a point to say the least, but consider the source…