Out of Bounds in the IT World
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Microsoft Corporation announced recently that it would stop providing MSN instant messaging services to Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan and the DPRK, in order to comply with the ban imposed by the US government. As a commercial company, the business activities of Microsoft Corporation are obviously manipulated by certain political forces, says an article in China Youth Daily. Excerpts:
Microsoft Corporation announced recently that it would stop providing MSN instant messaging services to Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan and the DPRK. [China Daily]
The reason is these countries figure in the US government's recently issued list of those banned from being provided licensed software services.
Microsoft also declared that it would not continue to maintain any business relationship with countries in the list until the ban is lifted.
We always say that Internet is borderless. However, what Microsoft has done shows beyond any doubt that there is discrimination when it comes to using MSN, which means that there are actually national boundaries in the IT world.
Microsoft is not only a company but also a tool in international power struggles. As such, it can hardly avoid being influenced by politics, and it will submit to dominant forces or ideology under certain circumstances. Just as government can commandeer commercial ships for the use of its army in times of war, the government can also commandeer Microsoft in the name of national policy.
Microsoft may adjust its business activities when it is asked to do its bit for the government in certain situations. In that case, the clients of Microsoft, even on its home ground, may end up paying a heavy price for their obsession with the company's products.
Yet, MSN is only a tool of communication. People can easily find substitutes for it. However, we cannot help but wonder whether the Windows operating system will also become a casualty in future.
In short, will Microsoft likely stop providing other products and/or services to clients in specific countries under certain kind of pressure?
(China Daily June 3, 2009)