Microsoft gives tyrants one less weapon to wield against their critics.
For the last few years, tech companies have become a convenient punching bag for their actions in places such as China and Russia –actions that have, in one way or another, furthered censorship and helped to silence dissent. But in TOL’s coverage area, some of the biggest companies have been working hard lately to burnish their images.
In September, Google held a large conference in Budapest on “the promise and peril of online free expression,” inviting civic activists, techies, and IT executives for a few days of panel discussions at Central European University. Now it’s Microsoft’s turn.
A report from The New York Times last month detailed how Russian authorities had continued a wide-ranging campaign to quash critical civic groups and media using anti-piracy laws, with Microsoft callously along for the ride. Evidence has been mounting for at least three years that law enforcement officials in Russia single out such groups, often when the groups are planning events or public campaigns.
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License to Criticize