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Microsoft Restricting Free Speech

Microsoft EULAs Preventing Publication Of Performance Benchmarks

Before or after installation virtually every Microsoft® application requires acceptance of an [End-User License Agreement] (EULA). They often include a statement requiring the user to not publish performance benchmarks of the software without approval:

You may not disclose the results of any benchmark test of either the Server Software or Client Software to any third party without Microsoft's prior written approval.

Microsoft Censorship

The U.S. Constitution's guarantee of free speech has long been used by journalists to support their right to report any information with minimal restrictions. The internet has opened a new avenue for anyone to publish information at very little cost. This invites authoring both true and false statements about corporations and their products. The right to publish, false or otherwise, is an obvious requirement of a free society. Microsoft, however, has decided web sites are not permitted to publish any information they desire regarding their company. For example, Microsoft has legally threatened internet hosting providers to take down web sites who publish information they disagree with, such as the technology news site. Ironically is far less biassed against Microsoft than many other more popular sites.

Microsoft has also assisted China in censoring its citizens, bringing criticisms from the U.S. Congress. They deleted a Chinese journalist's blog to comply with local laws. The end result, however, is their compliance to assist a regime in repressing their citizen's speech.

Microsoft has also asked to remove publicly posted comments under the law of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). While it may be improper for posters, anonymous or otherwise, to post writings which are covered by copyright without the copyright owner's consent, consoring public comments on the internet would be far more damaging to society.

In Brazil Microsoft filed a defamation lawsuit against Sergio Amadeu, the President of the Brazilian National Institute for Information Technology, in an attempt to curb freedom of speech. Mr. Amadeu likened the Microsoft corporation to a drug dealer, giving their product away for little or no money until the customer becomes addicted, and then demanding payment for continued use of the product. Bill Gates himself, however, described his actions in the same way in 1998. Also, during their U.S. antitrust trial, the judge declared Microsoft was like a drug dealer. Even with their own CEO and a U.S. federal judge using a similar description they attempt to limit the free speech of a foreign organization's leader. Many are disturbed at this attempt to silence a critic.

Copyright © 2004-2007 Matthew Schwartz