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May 21, 2006


Yusuf Goolamabbas

Rebecca, I guess censorship is the cost of doing business with China. Take for example, Martin Varsavky from Fon (I think you are on their advisory board).

A few days after his recent China trip, he removed images of TankMan from this blog entry


China Law Blog

Very good point. Why didn't Skype go into China alone? I do not think there would have been anything stopping them from doing so, though I have to admit I am not positive about this. Do you know? Generally, with all but a few exceptions (telecon? isp?) nearly all businesses can go into China as a Wholly Foreign Owned Entity (WFOE) these days. Could Skype?


Rebecca -- thanks for all your comments and questions. I have not posted a followup on the comments because I don't have any new info to add to what's already been said. Skype has taken a decision to have TOM Online actively manage its business in China, thus you should be addressing these questions to TOM.


Honestly, I'm willing to bet that Skype's decision proves to be the correct business decision, much damage though it may do to the cause of freedom in China.

Business have a long history of successfully co-existing with authoritarian regimes, and I'd be surprised if any attempt to do otherwise would bring any tangible gain to Skype, Google or the other companies who have bowed the the exigencies of doing business in China.

Rebecca MacKinnon

Thanks very much Jaanus. However, given that the censorship is happening under Skype's brand name, don't you think that Skype should be taking responsibility for how censorship of your tool is being carried out? Otherwise if you don't want to take responsibility for TOM's practices, shouldn't the tool just be called TOM in order that users are clear about which company truly has control over their conversations??

Rebecca MacKinnon

Yusuf, you make an astute observation. What Martin chooses to do on his personal blog is his own business and I have no comment. FON is neither a content nor a chat business - it's about sharing wifi signals - so the issues are different. I also don't think FON will be doing much in China on the commercial front for quite some time. That said, I have made it clear that I cannot remain on the advisory board of any company that censors user content or conversations in an untransparent, unnaccountable manner, or which exposes personal user data to Chinese authorities. So we'll see how things go. :)


Jaanus does have a good point.

To ignore China would be a mistake and China doesn't things their way. Besides there are many easy ways around this problem. I did a post on it here: http://www.laowise.com/blog/view/10

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