Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gigabyte Gamble of Global Giants


A challenge has been mounted by the technology giants against the economic giants on the global digital battlefield, in the name of online free speech protection, privacy of communication, and against governmental intrusion. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have joined forces to enforce a Code of Conduct that would govern the Global Network. How this will be received by countries alluded to in the enactment of the code; or how it will resist powerful political pressure at the local level by partners of the business behemoths, has not been detailed. Enacting a code is one thing, enforcing it is another.

The signing of the Global Code of Conduct attempts to end internet censorship and other forms of government witch hunts and interference. It seeks to limit what data should be shared with authorities where the integrity of free speech may be threatened. Human rights groups have hailed this as a recognition of the need for a collective response and more aggressive stand versus unwarranted demands on user privacy and restrictions on free speech. Google had been accused of agreeing to filter searches for such topics as democracy or Tiananmen; Microsoft had been pilloried for blocking the blog of a media practitioner who posted on the management purge at the Beijing News Daily; while Yahoo's disclosure of personal information led to the 10 year jail sentence of reporter Shi Tao.

Their alliance under the Code provides a certain clout for the implementation of its provisions. It seems that, as Jerry Yang of Yahoo puts it, their actions match their values. The tech giants are gambling on the fact that internet users in China are the youth , students, and young professionals - the generation that will sustain the country's powerful growth. The massive number of users is being staked against China's political will to interfere and protect what they feel is their secret. China's non-acceptance will create discord and distance between the government and people, putting their future in jeopardy. But China's acceptance will not be a victory for the alliance either, they will simply enforce their willful interference clandestinely, by pressuring or threatening the local partner quietly into submission. Having declared their acceptance of the Code to the world, coercion would then be rampant. Any disclosure of these threats can be claimed as an "isolated case".

The millions of users in China may also be used by the authorities against the alliance. Can these three giants afford to lose such a massive market? Also, what if China puts up a similar operation as they have that will serve their country's needs - reaching out beyond the urban areas where these giants operate? After sometime, they could terminate the operations of 2 of these tech companies with the one remaining becoming vulnerable to pressure. The Code's absence of an implementation mechanism weakens its resolve to accomplish what it claims it will. Perhaps they have realized it is unenforceable, and merely went through the motions to assuage human rights groups. There are strong indications that this alliance is merely a gesture that will cast these tech companies in a good light, after the bad image generated by past actions. Nothing more.

The fact that China seems to be singled out is also disturbing. Other countries are equally guilty of interference such as Russia, Serbia, Nigeria, and most of all the United States. It was the USA that removed privacy of communication as part of its intelligence gathering efforts for the War on Terror. That whole package of lies to spy on its own people has more cases that warrants investigation than China. On the other hand this whole alliance on the Code of Conduct is also being used to preempt whatever regulatory oversight may be initiated by a likely Obama government, because of how they assisted the trampling of America's civil rights in support of the War on Terror.

It's just so uncharacteristic for these companies to initiate actions that will damage their relationships with their major markets. Secondly, it does not make sense for them to dive into ideological issues that would virtually be imposing a political philosophy on a sovereign country, regardless of how universally righteous that philosophy is. Their business in service, not politics. This Code is a dangerous gamble if they are truly serious.

In the political battlefield, the tech companies are mice by comparison. Three mice that roar, even in blended three part harmony, cannot be that powerful in the real world. Against an army of more than a hundred million, all they can do is squeak!

Haaarrrrwwwk...Twooooooph...Ting!


22 comments:

Kim said...

hmmmm Durano...
Big Brother on the net...
that's a worry!!!
seems to me that power goes with control....and vice versa ...

Jena Isle said...

Hi Durano,

That is an interesting news. So now the internet attempts to control. I am curious about the outcome. A powerfully written article, as usual, with no "typos", which I sometimes commit..he he he..Thanks for sharing.

I have already posted your article for the book. I apologize for the delay...I'm now having a problem about the EC credits...because a new rule is in place. I will send them every month or week na lang, as allowed. Thanks for the contribution.

More power to you.
http://gewgawwritings.blogspot.com/2008/10/memories-for-my-mother-for-book-on.html

The Immortal said...

This is an interesting development if it becomes a showdown. But knowing China, I would agree with the points you've raised regarding their likely response and action.But then again, it may just be a positional ploy as you say, to please the liberals coming in this January 2009 under Obama.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet these companies would themselves desist from following this code and may even silently give in when pressured by powerful officials. They want to stay in the market. It's all about money!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

They are all big brothers, the countries and the tech companies.

Everything we do on the internet can be unearthed and our profiles would appear. There are what they call "cookies" that browsers and all other tools and plug-ins and whatever programs we use that gather information on our preferences, sites visited, comments made, information provided, etc. There are also "bots" that roam the net to track and protect the TOS of all those they provide for free. Plus all information we encode are owned by these tech giants.

I read an article once that quoted one of these giant tech companies who said there will come a time when the computer will make choices for us and do the thinking for the user; based on our pattern of use. That's scary. We are surrendering our brain to a software!

Keep your brain intact, never surrender! LOL! :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Jenaisle,

Yes, an attempt to control and to impose or dominate. This is the dawn of the Big Brother syndrome.

Thanks for posting the article. I didn't expect you to post it but simply be made part of the book. Expect a visit from my mother then. LOL!

Forget about the EC credits. There you go again. I have so many as it is. Use it to advertise your book instead. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Immortal,

Haven't seen you around lately.

There are just some things that are easy to connect after being exposed to them or after a thorough study. The dots just keep coming. Thanks for dropping by. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Anonymous,

You're right, it's all about marketing and money.Shall we drink to capitalism?

But let's see how this plays out. There just might be some surprises ahead. :-) --Durano, done!

Kim said...

now ...let me see....
it would be handy for a robot to do my dropping Durano ;)

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Yes, if you can program it to follow your wishes. He he he. :-) --Durano, done!

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