Profit vs Human Rights


Although China and other countries have come under fire for limiting what their citizens can see or post on the web, China also is a particularly sought-after market, for the potential its vast population offers.

Microsoft and Google have been accused of helping the government there censor news sites and blogs. And in a recent case, Reporters Without Borders criticized Yahoo for allegedly helping the Chinese government trace the private e-mail account of a Chinese journalist who was later imprisoned for providing state secrets to foreigners. Yahoo has defended its move, saying it is obliged to comply with Chinese regulations.

I think this raises an interesting issue – why don't human rights, especially free speech rights, come ahead of profits? Are not Microsoft, Yahoo, and even the venerable “Do no evil” Google complicit in China's human rights violations, by complying with the Chinese government's censorship rules? Is the ability to tap the largest emerging market in the world worth abandoning the moral values that so many in this country have fought and died for?

Wait, don't answer that.


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