China's Cyber Censorship Slams Silicon Valley

Repressive governments getting help from top computer companies, including our own

Every Hewlett-Packard and Apple computer sold in China will have censorship software preinstalled if the two companies want to keep doing business there, while Google's search results for Chinese users are being scaled back even further.

The world's biggest market for Internet users -- an estimated 300 million -- is also one of the more paranoid and restrictive.

Of course, the example set here at home hasn't exactly been peerless, our own goverment spying on networks and Internet providers trying to throttle or ban the likes of pornography and file sharing software.

Most recently, Finland's Nokia and Germany's Siemens have come under fire for selling the Iranian government equipment that can and likely is being used to search and track anti-state sentiment online.

Unfortunately, the market has generally been more seductive than any human rights principles, as all these companies and more have proven happy to aid and abet monitoring and censorship by governments.

"There's a technological arms race between those forces seeking openness and mass communication, and those wanting control," Computer & Communications Industry Association CEO Ed Black told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Down in Silicon Valley, when news breaks of any "technological arms race," someone makes the "cha-ching" sound -- the upside being that the most profitable place to be in any war is selling weapons to both sides.

Jackson West figures algorithms for placing location-aware, keyword-targeted online ads would totally work for hunting down dissidents.

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