Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Microsoft's Gates weighs in on China privacy debate

Bill Gates today weighed in on the raging debate over foreign Internet company practices when doing business in China. Gates suggested that he would welcome government intervention in how Microsoft and peers should behave when doing business in tricky countries such as China.

But he spke against any kind of ban on US companies operating in China or presumably any ban on specific business practices that would normally be considered legal by local or international law.

Gates speaks up right as other Internet operators go before congress on specific privacy issues. And this is a rare opportunity for Gates and Microsoft to take the high route on a major regulatory issue. For Microsoft have no servers in China and have not fallen as foul as either Yahoo or Google in bending over to Chinese authorities.

It will be interesting to see what the US government come up with if anything. My guess is they'll come out with a bunch of suggestions and frameworks for doing business in somewhat dodgy privacy/free speech/undemocratic states. Hey, if they really go overboard, they could do even more to inflame tensions than the Danish cartoons!

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