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A Walk in The Virtual Woods


This week’s eWeek column is about China and Google and Yahoo and France and how the conversation about what people can talk about is only going to heat up.
Part of the problem here is the lack of real understanding within the U.S. government about the ‘net and how it works. I know, I know, they say they get it and then they trot out their Treos. But they’re faking it.

The understanding of how Internet communictions works in the place that runs this country is not intuitive or universal or consistent. And that’s a problem. Because it means there’s no real smart U.S. policy that can – and should – guide ‘net-based businesses working overseas. This is mostly a Bush Administration failure; those guys love free markets and they hate international agreements. Which everyone in Silicon Valley thinks is a fine thing. But that’s a company view, not a policy-maker’s view. I haven’t seen any evidence that President Bush understands the relationships between an international economic policy, foreign policy, and outsourcing. This human rights stuff is even further out there and in the minds of most politicians — from both parties — it has little to do with the Internet. But information, remember, it wants to be free.
When it comes to other cultures and other countries, this country ought to have some ideas of what it will and will not tolerate rather than patching things together on court cases and ad hoc deals. Human Rights Watch would like companies to co-operate and have some sort of human rights standards to uphold when they deal with governments in Tehran and Beijing. Fat chance; these are capitalists – on both sides – looking for an advantage. But HRW has a good point: if the U.S. had a decent electronic human rights policy companies would at least have some lines drawn. So watch this space. This stuff isn’t going away.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:51 AM | Permalink

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