Gates Speaks Out Against Net Censorship, Piracy

    February 1, 2006

Bill Gates says that governments trying to censor information on the Internet are wasting their time.

“You may be able to take a very visible website and say that something shouldn’t be there, but if there’s a desire by the population to know something it’s going to get out very broadly” via e-mail, Gates said.

The AP also quotes Gates as saying “The ability to really withhold information no longer exists”, and he’s absolutely right. Gates, responding to incidents about censorship in China, basically explained that while Microsoft had to comply with the laws of local governments, those governments are fighting a losing battle, as netizens have found ways around things like the Great Firewall of China.

Gates also discussed piracy in Asia, saying that it would take about ten years to beat back piracy in China and India, and that prosperity was the key.

Piracy was previously standard in Taiwan and South Korea but both had come round as they grew richer and produced their own crop of local software firms, he said.

Microsoft has been achieving more than 30 per cent sales growth in China in recent years and has increased its investment in the country substantially, as it has done also in India.

Industry analysts have long dubbed China the world’s de facto capital of piracy. Illicit copying is a plague for software vendors and other manufacturers of hi-tech products, such as pharmaceuticals.

In the long term, both China and India would respect intellectual property as they shifted from simply being low-cost manufacturing centres to developing their own technologically advanced products, Mr Gates said.

“We’d like to see more rapid progress on that,” he said.

Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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