Bay Networks in bed with commie censors?

Perry E. Metzger perry at
Thu Jan 16 15:25:23 UTC 1997

Paul Ferguson writes:
> At 05:33 PM 1/15/97 -0800, Vadim Antonov wrote:
> >The technology we're playing with lost it virginity years ago, and
> >it is our duty to remember than it can be an immensely powerful tool
> >in politics and military.  We're not in a sandbox anymore.
> Not everything is a freeking conspiracy either.

Vadim is making a reasonable point. Supplying technology to some
countries is not a neutral act. Businesspeople must take this into
account when doing business with such people.

That said, let me mention a difficult conversation I had about a year
and a half ago with a friend who works for Unnamed Large Company.

It was of this form:

"The PRC wants us to supply them with technology to censor their
internet connections. Do I refuse on the basis that it is wrong to aid
them in attempting to achieve their goal, or do I go along with it on
the premise that they basically can't succeed in the end anyway and
this will give them a false sense of security that will encourage them
to link up the country?"

I couldn't really answer well. These sorts of moral dillemas often
have no good answer.

I suspect, though, that Vadim's assumption that the folks at Bay
proudly announcing their marketing coup probably had no such moral
dillemas in mind when they made their decision. Make no mistake about
it, by the way -- the government of the PRC isn't a friendly bunch of

Since it isn't clear that this will cause harm or good I'm not as
clear on my reaction as Vadim was.


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