How Russia Uses Microsoft to Crack Down on Dissenters

Confiscates computers on pretext of looking for pirated software
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2010 1:19 PM CDT
Microsoft founder Bill Gates watches Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova playing compatriot Dinara Safina during their women's singles final of the French Open in Paris, Saturday, June 6, 2009.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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(Newser) – Russia is suddenly very concerned with the rampant pirating of Microsoft software—but apparently only in dissidents' computers, which the Kremlin is confiscating at a breathtaking clip. Typical is an environmental group that protested Vladmir Putin's decision to re-open a factory that had polluted a lake. One afternoon, police appeared and seized all their computers—which contained legal Microsoft software and a lifetime's worth of environmental data.

Moscow's getting an unlikely hand from Microsoft, reports the New York Times in a lengthy look, which has filed suits against raid victims. Microsoft says it only acted because Russian law requires it, but it's landed solidly in the delicate dance of tech giants with less-than-democratic states: Afraid to hurt business yet under pressure to push for human rights, Microsoft says it's now reviewing its policies in Russia.
(Read more Microsoft stories.)

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