90 Miles From Tyranny : In wake of Shutterstock’s Chinese censorship, American companies need to relearn American values

Sunday, December 8, 2019

In wake of Shutterstock’s Chinese censorship, American companies need to relearn American values






It’s among the most iconic images of the last few decades — a picture of an unknown man standing before a line of tanks during the protests in 1989 in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. In just one shot, the photographer, Jeff Widener, managed to convey a society struggling between the freedoms of individual citizens and the heavy hand of the Chinese militarized state.

It’s also an image that few within China’s “great firewall” have access to, let alone see. For those who have read 1984, it can almost seem as if “Tank Man” was dropped into a memory hole, erased from the collective memory of more than a billion people.

By now, it’s well-known that China’s search engines like Baidu censor such political photography. Regardless of the individual morality of their decisions, it’s at least understandable that Chinese companies with mostly Chinese revenues would carefully hew to the law as set forth by the Chinese Communist Party. It’s a closed system after all.

What we are learning though is that it isn’t just Chinese companies that are aiding and abetting this censorship. It’s Western companies too. And Western workers aren’t pleased that they are working to enforce the anti-freedom policies in the Middle Kingdom.

Take Shutterstock, which has come under great fire for complying with China’s great firewall. As Sam Biddle described in The Intercept last month, the company has been riven internally between workers looking to protect democratic values, and a business desperate to expand further in one of the world’s most dynamic countries. From Biddle:
Shutterstock’s censorship feature appears to have been immediately controversial within the company, prompting more than 180 Shutterstock workers to sign a petition against the search blacklist and accuse the company of trading its values for access to the lucrative Chinese market.
Those petitions have allegedly gone nowhere internally, and that has led employees like Stefan Hayden, who describes nearly ten years of experience at the company as a frontend developer on his LinkedIn profile, to resign: The challenge of these political risks is hardly unknown to Shutterstock. The company’s most recent annual financial filing with the SEC lists market access and censorship as a key risk for...

Read More HERE

1 comment:

  1. The real shame is that there are no ethical people like Stefan Hayden in either the FBI or the DoJ!!!

    ReplyDelete