Wow .... a WSJ Editorial I Agree With

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wow .... a WSJ Editorial I Agree With

Today's Wall Street Journal (registration req'd) features three editorials -- the first two were predictable drivel. The first editorial declares that the United Nations has "the potential to be taken seriously by the United States" only if John Bolton's nomination as UN ambassador is approved. The second editorial accuses the International Red Cross of waging "an unprecedented propoganda war" against the U.S. because it dared to complain about indefinite detentions at Gitmo.

Yep, the same old WSJ, I thought. So you can imagine my shock when I began to read the third editorial and discovered that it voiced an opinion I could actually agree with. The WSJ writes:
"Where do you want to go today?"

That was Microsoft's slogan in the mid-1990s, one that evoked the unlimited possibilities inherent in the age of the Internet and the software revolution. The answer to that question today would be, "hopefully not where they discuss 'freedom,' 'democracy' and 'human rights,'" at least not if you expect to use Microsoft's portal in China.

The software giant has just bowed to the Chinese government by banning these words. If you type them on Microsoft's new portal, a message appears telling you to try different ones.

... To be fair to Microsoft, it is not alone. Yahoo! and Google have also caved in to China. Google chose last year to omit sources the Chinese government does not like ... All of these Internet companies make the point that it is better to make a compromise, gain a foothold in China and then offer China's masses the smorgasbord of information that is out there.

... It is admittedly difficult for China's government to block Internet content from its estimated 87 million users ... But it is a lot easier if it has the cooperation of the industry. These corporations might also remember that Beijing needs their business. The Internet is where demand and supply meet these days, and where China's leaders need economic growth to continue if they are not to face large-scale upheavel.

Certainly the Microsofts and Googles might try to drive a harder bargain.

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