Amnesty International makes some callouts:
Amnesty International accused Yahoo, Microsoft and Google on Thursday of violating human rights principles by cooperating with China's efforts to censor the Web and called on them to lobby for the release of jailed cyber-dissidents.Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft are drawing to an inside straight here. There is no way they are going to convince China to drop their long-standing censorship; this is a Communist dictatorship, after all, even though they have made tremendous strides economically by instituting market-based reforms. So they are left with a choice: go to China under China's terms or don't go to China at all.
The London-based human rights group also called on the Internet companies to publicly oppose Chinese government requests that violate human rights standards.
"The Internet should promote free speech, not restrict it. We have to guard against the creation of two Internets _ one for expression and one for repression," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty's U.S. branch, in a statement.
It's easy for Amnesty to take the purist road; they're not missing out on the potential of losing billions in revenue and losing market share - in the world's largest market - to an upstart that is willing to play China's game. But it's also easy to say that the corporation has no responsibility other than to make money for its shareholders, and if that means keeping the Chinese enslaved, then so be it. The lesser of two evils is still an evil.
But the question Amnesty does not ask is, "What is the best way to get China to voluntarily make the reforms that Amnesty wants?" The boycott strategy simply doesn't work on dictatorships (ask Fidel Castro), but the blue jean strategy just might. Ask Sergei Boukhonine, who as a native of Ukraine saw what Soviet propaganda failed to hide:
...blue jeans were the best counterargument against the Soviet propaganda, much more effective than the Voice of America. Consider the following. When the Soviet TV showed the West and especially the United States, it didn’t so much lie as did not tell the whole truth. The Soviet TV showed poor people in urban ghettos, student protesters, trade union strikes, etc. (rather than suburban soccer moms and country clubs). All these people were angry at the capitalist system, or life, or whatever. The Soviet people were supposed to watch and become more confident about the superiority of the socialist system. However, there was a small but crucial problem… you guessed it – blue jeans! All poor urban folks and union marchers wore the coveted blue jeans!!! Even the homeless people in the West wore them. So, the wheels of Soviet minds turned, these people couldn’t be all that poor and miserable if they all wore the pants which we couldn’t afford!Technology is counterrevolutionary, because it transmits information that the government does not want people to know and images it does not want people to see. Even if GoogleChina doesn't carry blogs or censors the words "human rights," it matters very little. One can amass an incredible amount of subversive information even when ideas are banned. Or rather I should say when those words are banned, for ideas can come in many forms and spread far faster than the Chinese can gather lists of subversive sites to censor. For it is not the sites that are subversive, it is the entire internet, which is one reason the US government is so perplexed by it as well. The internet doesn't stop at the border.
We should give the Chinese as much as we can (just like we should trade freely with Cuba, but that's another issue). We can't keep the government from mistreating its serfs, but subversive technology can help develop those serfs to the point that their government must change or die. It has worked before and may be the only hope, other than a economic collapse/civil war, to see China ditch the last remnants of totalitarianism.