Must-Read: How Internet Companies Profit From Censorship in China (Cuba)

Friday, July 10, 2015
This is the same policy of collaboration that the Obama Administration, along with Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Tom Udall (D-NM), want the U.S. to adopt with the Castro regime's repressive telecom monopoly, ETECSA.

(Click here to learn more about ETECSA.)

If such censorship and control is what happens in China, which is huge and porous -- just imagine in Cuba, which is small and manageable.

If the Obama Administration is truly interested in the Cuban people receiving free and unfiltered Internet access, it should focus on policies of circumvention -- not collaboration.

Modern technology allows it.

From Quartz:

A new wave of US internet companies is succeeding in China—by giving the government what it wants

Facebook found itself shut out from China in 2009. Twitter got blocked the same year. In 2010, Google pulled its search services from China after a government hack. Beijing, it seems, was sending a message to high-profile American internet companies: play by our rules and censor content, or don’t play at all.

After Google’s exit, those three firms have yet to come back. But in recent years, other American internet companies have found a degree of success in China—or at least a bit more stability than their predecessors.

The solution involves sacrifice—hand over data and control, and the Chinese government will hand you the keys to the market.

“If you want to develop an internet business in Chinese now, you have to be willing to work with the Chinese government, even if that means censoring content or sharing access to your data,” Ben Cavender, principal at the China Market Research Group, told Quartz.
Idealism or growth?

Should Evernote, Uber, and LinkedIn be shamed outside China for agreeing to give Beijing access to their users’ data, and censoring the content that users can see and share?

By now, some may say that question sounds downright passé. Google and Facebook, the posterboys for internet companies shut out of China, are now knocking on its door. Facebook has reportedly opened an office in Beijing and aspires to develop a consumer-facing product. Mark Zuckerberg’s China infatuation seems carefully staged. Google, meanwhile, is rumored to be working on an app store for China, as a way to reach consumers without relying on its search engine.

“Google decided to take a stand, and they effectively locked themselves out of the market,” Cavender said. Businesses must ask, “How important is China to our growth and what is our long-term perspective on what to do there?” he adds.

Charlie Smith, the pseudonymous spokesperson for censorship watchdog group GreatFire, believes it’s possible for firms to make money in China without entangling themselves in these ethical dilemmas. He points to Twitter as a good example of a firm that earns money in China by selling ad space to Chinese businesses, but avoids the ethical pitfalls of running a censored social network there.

“They realize that these [issues] exist in China and that they can’t go and self-censor the platform—or they could, but they decided that’s not what they’re about,” says Smith. “But they’re in China, presenting at conferences, trying to get Chinese advertisers to advertise on Twitter. That’s great.”

Yet Smith believes that LinkedIn and Evernote are setting a dangerous precedent for other internet firms eying the Middle Kingdom. “More US companies are going to decide that treating the Chinese like second class information citizens is fine,” he says.