Bad minds think alike
Summary: Corrupt governments that give Microsoft their citizens’ money are being defended by Microsoft, whose employees possibly carry firearms and call dissent “piracy”
AST YEAR we wrote about Microsoft's relationship with Kyrgyzstan. For those who have not heard the news, “Kyrgyzstan’s head reveals overthrown president left only $80m in the budget” and Richard Stallman writes: “Kyrgyzstan’s President Bakiyev sold off nearly all the state’s assets at low prices to his family’s cronies. Kyrgyzstan should seize the former state assets that are physically in the country, such as the telephone company, and tell the new “owners” they can try to collect from Bakiyev.”
Microsoft loves those. It has them everywhere and even brags about it.
In my earlier post on the recent Kyrgyzstan revolution, I commented on the lack of cyber attacks and what that implies for this event. Now, thanks to the help of a contact in Central Asia, I see that the Bakiev administration had effectively shut down all opposition media in the months and weeks prior to the April 7th revolution, which isn’t all that surprising.
What is surprising, however, is that Microsoft appears to have helped Bakiev do it. Essentially, Microsoft’s Kyrgyzstan agent assisted the Kyrgyz authorities in cracking down on dissenting media five days before last week’s uprising.
This is where Microsoft comes in. According to the local 24.kg news agency, agents of the State Financial Police and a representative of Microsoft arrived armed with an order from the Kyrgyzstan Prosecutor General’s office to seal all the station’s equipment. This included confiscating private laptops that were on the premises at the time. The justification for this action was the charge from Microsoft’s agent that Stan Media LLC may be using pirated Microsoft software. This charge had yet to be proven, however the station was shut down pending such time when a final determination could be made. A Stan TV official was quoted as saying:
“We understand that actions of the financial police, possibly, break rules of proceedings, but we made no resistance to the police. We asked human rights organizations for help”, editorial director of the STAN-TV Kirill Stepanyuk added.”
CPJ, a non-profit organization based in New York, has pointed out that this is an oft-used tactic by regional authorities to quash dissent. I’ve made a request for an official comment from Microsoft about their role in this incident, but so far no response has been forthcoming.
Classic Microsoft. The essay is from Forbes and it’s titled “How Microsoft Took The Wrong Side On The Kyrgyzstan Revolution”; last year we argued that activists don't use Windows because only Free software enables freedom of operation and expression. In Russia, for example, journalists whom the government wants silenced or arrested are being accused and then caught for counterfeited proprietary software that they use. It’s a widely-publicisd factoid and a crucial lesson regarding the importance of software freedom.
“The US supports compliant dictators in many countries, and might be glad to support one more.”
–Richard StallmanAccording to another new report, the cronies are being pushed off their throne and Richard Stallman writes: “The people came onto the streets to fight the government of Kyrgyzstan, after the government had opposition leaders arrested. Over 50 protesters were killed, but they seem to have won the battle. I am concerned that Obama will try to put the president back in power so as to keep using the airport. The US supports compliant dictators in many countries, and might be glad to support one more.” We are not endorsing or taking any sides here, but the fact that Microsoft carries arms (the wording is ambiguous) to merely attack the messengers using a EULA is absolutely pathetic; it must be intimidating for the victims, who are being criminalised by a foreign company called Microsoft (we wrote about Microsoft’s criminalisation of youth around the world just earlier today). █
Obey the Microsoft EULA, or else!