Re "Technology's soul," Opinion, Nov. 25
The Times editorializes about Internet companies' work on a code of conduct to include "a demand that governments follow formal legal procedures to obtain information about Internet users." The Times also says that the "efforts could relieve the competitive pressures that often lead companies to become complicit in political crackdowns."
Maybe they could apply the code here, where our government is busy destroying "formal legal procedures" -- such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- and where those same Internet and telecom companies illegally collude in that destruction, motivated in part by the "competitive pressures" of going after large government contracts.
The Times apparently thinks that Yahoo should have refused to obey Chinese law for moral reasons. I presume that The Times thinks foreign companies operating in the U.S. can be expected to obey our laws. Suppose a company receives a subpoena to disclose some personal information pursuant to a murder inquiry. Suppose the company comes from a country where capital punishment is not practiced and widely held to be immoral.
Would The Times and the American public think the company should be granted a dispensation for its moral stance in refusing to divulge?
Tyranny can't be isolated to just one person giving orders. It is an entire society that consists of the bullies and the bullied, and hardly anything in between. What Yahoo and the other tech companies are learning is that a worthwhile investment is much more than just a mathematical return on a dollar. It is more about the person who gets that dollar, what they do with it, and whether that is of value to the people who are part of your business.