Ongoing Hypocrisy?

I just had a IM chat with Didier again.  Didier is now just a few days from moving back to Bordeaux, France but he was angry about Tim Bray's recent post:

Tim wrote recently in Helping Them Lie:

Google is getting some well-deserved flak for emasculating the Chinese version of Google News by suppressing headlines that point at things the government of China doesn’t want its citizens to read.

By suppressing the headlines that point at forbidden material, Google is actively aiding and abetting the Chinese government’s marketing program.

Back in June, Joi Ito wrote, in response to Dan Gillmor's post about Iran's net censorship, about a conversation he had with a Sun employee he met:

I once sat next to a guy from Sun Federal, a Sun Microsystems subsidiary, who was on his way back from selling a filtering system to a government.

Going further back on

Amnesty named several U.S.-based companies as alleged suppliers of technology used in the Chinese government's crackdown on Internet speech. These included Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Nortel Networks and filtering software supplier Websense.

Oops.  I know Tim is an upstanding guy and I don't think he was aware of the role his own company played with China's Great CyberWall, but I can understand how his post might appear to some people like a display of hypocrisy.

For companies like Sun, profits are profits but business practice that undermines the moral ground of its employees, particularly an outspoken one like Tim, can hurt them badly.


As for me, I have not participated in anyway with the building of their firewalls or news filtering infrastructure.  However, I am perfectly willing to sell them anything they want as long as it's legal and there are profits to be made.

While I fully sympathize with those suffering from the Chinese government's newage campaign of tyranny, it's ultimately a battle for the Chinese citizens.  If they are putting up with it, I am not going to waste time shaking my fingers indignantly.  I think it will happen eventually but not any time soon.

On the other hand, fingershaking is a great exercise for those with full stomach.