How Microsoft stays ahead of Google in the Evil race

Helping Vladimir Putin crack down on dissidents – even dissidents who pay for all the software they use – is worse than making a deal with Verizon to gut “net neutrality.”

Look, I don’t even pretend to grok the technical issues underlying the “net neutrality” debate. After a friendly geek explained to me how the Verizon-Google deal works, I wanted to make sure I’d gotten the gist of it. “You mean, Google has just changed its slogan to ‘Only be evil when there’s real money on the table?’ ”

“You’ve got it,” said my friend.

The new version is not such a thrilling slogan – a little bit like “We don’t torture people, we just provide deniability and impunity for torturers.” But Google, like Obama, has been fortunate in finding a competitor unspeakably worse.

Microsoft’s slogan seems to be, “Be unspeakably evil for no particular reason.” Helping Vladimir Putin and his gang of kleptocrats and secret policemen crack down on civil society, for example. Even when the civil-society outfits have – unlike almost anyone else in Russia – bought licenses for all the Microsoft products they use, the cops still come in and cart away all their computers (and data, of course, and private information). And Microsoft supports the process in the name of fighting “software piracy.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

8 thoughts on “How Microsoft stays ahead of Google in the Evil race”

  1. "But Google, like Obama, has been fortunate in finding a competitor unspeakably worse.'

    The problem with that, (Leaving aside the "unspeakably" part.) is that, when you're part of a downward spiral, the fact that you're not as bad as your competitor is of little consolation. Your competitor probably isn't as bad as you'll be, a few years down the road.

    The real challenge is to turn things around, not shift the decline over a couple of years.

  2. "Your competitor probably isn’t as bad as you’ll be, a few years down the road."

    Yes just look at our two parties. As we continue our slide down the hill and off the right edge of the earth, the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans seems to be about 15-20 years. Hard to know exactly, but the Dems passing the Heritage foundation health care proposal of the early 90's seems to put it in about that time frame. At any given point, the Republicans are worse, but the Dems today are certainly worse than the Republicans have been in my lifetime. So for me the choice seems to boil down to, do I vote Dem and hope to take advantage of that 2 decade delta to delay the fall until after I'm dead, or do I vote Republican to hasten it as much as possible so as to give my kids time to build a sane society before they're too old, at the cost of me having to endure my old age in chaos.

    The real challenge is to turn things around, not shift the decline over a couple of years.

  3. The environmental group should have been using Linux (or BSD, etc.) instead.

    Any activist group should use Free Software, both to protect their freedom and security, and to save a bit of their limited money.

  4. Two side points:

    (1) Villains almost never think of themselves as villains, or as evil; and seldom as even doing evil in the greater service of a greater good. Exhibits: Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot… So perhaps Google's slogan really means "Don't do anything so outrageous that it will make me think of myself as evil."

    (2) As detestable as what is going on in Russia is, it does mark some progress for that sad land: It wouldn't even have been reported under the Soviet regime, and it wouldn't have been possible in the first place under the Tsars (because the various secret police organizations would have ensured that private citizens couldn't have access to such dangerously subversive devices in the first place). Some, but not enough.

  5. Speaking as a recent convert to the Macintosh, I can say with considerable assurance, "Once you go Mac you won't go back."

  6. I see that Microsoft, for all it's vaunted evil, took less than 24 hours to respond to the Russian 'piracy' raids. That's a heck of a lot faster than Google's backing down on assisting Chinese censorship of search results.

  7. Brett, to be precise: to respond to the publicity about the raids. Microsoft has been helping Putin enforce his tyranny for many months. But it's good to see that the Borg isn't entirely incapable of learning from its mistakes, or at least from getting caught at them.

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