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I Choose Freedom over Censorship

Again, as I’ve said before on this blog, if I had some extra cash…the money I could make in cloud-based stocks.

For example, I could have made a bundle today on Baidu, Google’s platform rival in China. Shares shot up 3% for Baidu, and Google’s fell by that proportion, as it became more certain that Google will shut down its search operations in China because it’s no longer willing to play along with China’s censorship rules.

The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal both recently reported that Google was likely to shut Google.cn down because Chinese authorities would not change their Internet censorship rules. There was no compromising, either, according to the reports.

After I got over my fantasy about making it rich on Baidu, I started thinking about the bigger picture, and I’ve decided to say it in print here. You ready: If Google and the Chinese government can’t sit down and compromise or talk through this issue of censorship, then Google is right to shut down there. Restrictions on freedom of speech (in this case digital), goes against the grain of every person who is an independent-thinking, self-determined person, whether you’re American, European, African, Chinese…whatever.

Don’t get me wrong; China has every right to run its country the way it wants. But Google has every right, too, to protect and promote its product for what it is – know then world over for its powerful, and extensive search capability. If the two entities can’t figure this out, then they should part company.

And I’m not the only person who feels this way.

In a story I read on InformationWeek, at a March 2nd hearing on Internet freedom in Washington, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin praised Google for its decision to stop censoring searches in China. And he also questioned aloud why so few IT companies were willing to address human rights challenges.

“With a few notable exceptions, the information technology industry seems unwilling to regulate itself and unwilling even to engage in a dialogue with Congress about the serious human rights challenges the industry faces,” said Durbin on his Congressional website. “As a result, I plan to introduce legislation that would require Internet companies to take reasonable steps to protect human rights or face civil or criminal liability. I recognize that the IT industry faces difficult challenges when dealing with repressive governments, but Congress has a responsibility to ensure that American companies are not complicit in violating the fundamental human rights of Internet users around the globe.”

There are only three companies that belong to the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a voluntary code of conduct that seeks to guide companies operating in countries that limit Internet freedoms. They are Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

In January, Durbin sent letters to 30 technology companies (including firms like Apple, Amazon and Dell) asking them to participate in the GNI.

The article said that only AT&T, McAfee and Skype said they’d discuss joining GNI. Websense said that it would do so if the fee was waived.

As a founder of a monitoring company that operates from the cloud, I just want to go on record as saying that I do not count among my customers repressive governments that seek information on activities of web users. It’s against my ethics as a freedom-loving person.

Hovhannes Avoyan

About Hovhannes Avoyan

Paid Monitor CEO – Hovhannes is an international entrepreneur with a recognized and respected reputation in the high tech industry. His technical expertise, combined with his drive to build the best business/product, has positioned him as a visionary international extension of Silicon Valley.

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