Rusland bruger Microsoft til at lukke kritiske medier

Typisk strategi for et diktatur, der prøver på at opretholde en illusion om, at tingene går lovligt til: De russiske myndigheder laver razziaer efter piratkopieret software hos aviser og tidsskrifter, der kritiserer regeringen – og ikke hos de officielle medier.

Dette er en strategi, som meget vel kan blive brugt til at kvæle alternative medier og græsrodsbevægelser også i Danmark. Løsning: Drop Microsoftprodukter. Brug fri software.

Cory Doctorow fortæller på Boing Boing:

Russian police use the pretense of enforcing Microsoft’s copyrights as an excuse to raid the offices of human rights, environmental and dissident NGOs, and Microsoft has not intervened to stop it, even when the groups are using legitimate, licensed copies of Microsoft software. Police often claim to have discovered pirated software on seized computers even before examining them, and claim that the investigations come at Microsoft’s requests. Microsoft lawyers have cooperated with raids on opposition newspapers, whose editors say that the raids would not have taken place without Microsoft’s complicity. During raids, police have been spotted removing Microsoft “Certificate of Authenticity” stickers on confiscated PCs. Microsoft’s lawyers testified in support of police claims that pirated software was found on PCs, even though the court later found that the PCs were never examined.

Interviews and a review of law enforcement documents show that in recent cases, Microsoft lawyers made statements describing the company as a victim and arguing that criminal charges should be pursued.The lawyers rebuffed pleas by accused journalists and advocacy groups, including Baikal Wave, to refrain from working with the authorities. Baikal Wave, in fact, said it had purchased and installed legal Microsoft software specifically to deny the authorities an excuse to raid them. The group later asked Microsoft for help in fending off the police. “Microsoft did not want to help us, which would have been the right thing to do,” said Marina Rikhvanova, a Baikal Environmental Wave co-chairwoman and one of Russia’s best-known environmentalists. “They said these issues had to be handled by the security services.”

Microsoft executives in Moscow and at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., asserted that they did not initiate the inquiries and that they took part in them only because they were required to do so under Russian law.

Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent

Update, 14. september: Så meget jeg end mener, der kan være grund til at kritisere Microsoft for deres misbrug af eget monopol og generelt underlige forretningsmoral, har de tilsyneladende faktisk slået bremsen i her, efter historien var oppe i New York Times.

Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols skriver:

After the New York Times reported that Microsoft lawyers have helped Russian authorities to raid advocacy groups and newspapers in the name of copyright enforcement in recent years, Microsoft slammed on the brakes on its copyright enforcement policies. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote in his blog, “We want to be clear that we [Microsoft] unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain.”

What’s even more impressive was that Smith then wrote, “To prevent non-government organizations from falling victim to nefarious actions taken in the guise of anti-piracy enforcement, Microsoft will create a new unilateral software license for NGOs that will ensure they have free, legal copies of our products.”

With this move, Microsoft stops any government from using Microsoft software licensing as an excuse to seize computers and shut down organizations. Of course, governments can also find another excuse, but Microsoft won’t be a party to their efforts to suppress dissent.

Det kan dog stadig bruges mod kritiske medier, hvis de ikke er NGOer, måske. Men noget er noget. Lad os holde øje med, hvordan historien udvikler sig.