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Amnesty International Goes After Microsoft

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 987 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... MICROSOFT IN HUMAN RIGHTS ROW By Nick Mathiason The
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2004
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      MICROSOFT IN HUMAN RIGHTS ROW
      By Nick Mathiason
      The Observer
      Sunday, February 1, 2004

      http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,1136045,00.html

      Technology sold by Microsoft to the Chinese government has been used by
      Beijing to censor the internet, and resulted in the jailing of its political
      opponents.

      An Amnesty International report has cited Microsoft among a clutch of
      leading computer firms heavily criticised for helping to fuel 'a dramatic
      rise in the number of people detained or sentenced for internet-related
      offences'.

      The human rights group has slated Bill Gates's company for an 'inadequate
      response' to escalating abuses in China. 'We don't believe this is
      appropriate or responsible,' said Mark Allison, an Amnesty International
      researcher who wrote the report. '[Microsoft] should be more concerned about
      human rights abuses and should be using its influence to lift restrictions
      on freedom of expression and get people out of prison. It is worrying that
      they don't seem to have raised these issues.'

      Amnesty believes Microsoft is in violation of a new United Nations Human
      Rights code for multinationals which says businesses should 'seek to ensure
      that the goods and services they provide will not be used to abuse human
      rights'.

      China is the world's most aggressive censor of the internet. Websites are
      banned for using words such as 'Taiwan', 'Tibet', 'democracy', 'dissident'
      and 'human rights'. Amnesty has recorded dozens of cases of political
      opponents jailed for circulating material offensive to the Chinese
      government.

      Microsoft told The Observer: 'We are focused on delivering the best
      technology to people throughout the world. However, how that technology is
      used is with the individual and ultimately not in the company's control.'

      Since China was admitted to the World Trade Organisation two years ago a
      succession of big US technology firms have been supplying the government.
      Internet use in China is close to 80 million, though this is less than 10
      per cent of the adult population.

      Nortel Networks said in September 2003 it plans to invest $200 million in
      the next three years to strengthen its research and development capabilities
      in China.

      Cisco Systems, which has also been named in the Amnesty report, has in the
      past denied that it tailors products for the Chinese market and has said:
      'If the government of China wants to monitor the internet, that's their
      business. We are politically neutral.' But Allison said: 'In terms of the
      internet the Chinese government is arresting people who are doing nothing
      more than expressing themselves.'

      It was confirmed last week that Gates is to receive an honorary knighthood.
      The firm is embroiled in tough negotiations over supply of software to the
      NHS.

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