Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ethics in IT Companies

Microsoft rejected EFF's accusation that it had intendedly closed the encrypted connection channel in his HOTMAIL email service in countries with political contentions between the people and the government. The areas where HTTPS, an encrypted communication protocol, were shut shown by Microsoft's Hotmail include Bahrain, Iran, Sudan among a few others.

Microsoft's move was viewed by many as a calculated step made to appease autocratic regimes so that they could use eavesdropping software to monitor politically sensitive messages. When users of Hotmail use HTTPS, they would receive a notice which says, 'your Windows ID can't use HTTPS because .. account type'. EFF pointed out a trick that the user could easily turn on the feature by selecting a county not effected in the account setting, for example, Japan or Canada.

IT companies often face the dilemma between making profit and user protection. Yahoo knowingly volunteered user information to Beijing's communist regime resulted in lengthy jail time for its users. Google set up servers in China for Chinese market so that they could be technically monitored. Cisco helped the secret police to develop China's Internet traffic monitoring system. Their track record is so bad that everyone question their real intention even when it seems someone is trying to do the right thing. Last year, when Google announced they would stopped filtering search result in China, they were not welcomed, but accused of advancing business in disguise of political messages. They accusers were not disappointed when it turned out that Google never stopped filtering 'sensitive words' in China, although they claimed they had acted.

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