Spying on Microsoft

By Joshua Micah Marshall


Salon Staff
July 6, 2000 11:33PM (UTC)

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Let me see if I have this straight: Because Microsoft has provided support, inspiration, or even instruction to an organization that supports their position in a national debate of immense importance, Oracle should be commended for uncovering this by all means, fair or foul? Microsoft's behavior is not only legal, but is in fact identical to the lobbying methods used by any number of interest groups and corporations including (I might add) Oracle. The author shows his considerable anti-Microsoft bias throughout the article in question -- should we thus presume that he is in the pay of Oracle, or merely expressing a strongly held belief?

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What concerns me though, is the notion that simply because we dislike a given organization (or individual, for that matter), this sort of sleazy violation of even the most basic privacies should be tolerated. I freely concede that Oracle has done nothing criminal (though I do wonder if a lawsuit might find fertile ground here), but unlike what seems to be the current mindset, "not illegal" does not mean ethical. If we are willing to tolerate, even applaud (as the author does) such transgressions, we are not only lowering the ethical bar to a frightening level, we are ensuring that this sort of behavior will become the first choice, not the last choice, of those with an axe to grind in the future.

-- Scott Rosenthal

Microsoft sleazy? Oracle good? Building a good product which too many people buy, bad. Destroying Microsoft because they are too successful, good. Microsoft engaging in a PR campaign, bad. Oracle hiring presidential thugs to investigate PR campaign, good. Ellison, hero. Gates, villain. I hope I got everything right.

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A piece of advice to Ellison: Billionaires are wonderfully easy targets, so keep your political masters happy. You're going to need them when the Department of Justice comes after you.

-- Edward Roberts

While it's too bad that Oracle had to resort to possibly skirting the law to get the goods on Microsoft, the article answers a question I've been wondering about for some time. Every time, in fact, I see another letter of outrage in the local newspaper that demands to know why the government picks on that do-good, efficient entrepreneur and American success story, Bill Gates. Even in neoliberal central Ohio, I was amazed by the apparently large number of enthusiasts of predatory capitalism. Now, perhaps, we have a clue as to the source. They're simply on the Microsoft payroll and whoring like every public relations flack shilling for any powerhouse entity of the global economy.

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However, I'm puzzled and disappointed about why a corporate competitor had to bring to light the fact that Microsoft paid people to protest. Why aren't our ever-vigilant, watchdog media uncovering such sleights of hand? Are they uninterested? Is it slippage or boredom? Or are the corporate media deliberately choosing to look past chicanery as just another business practice of a business brother? It's little wonder that the news institutions are so lacking in credibility.

Of course, I could have missed the story if it was reported elsewhere. But I've had no problem following the meaningless exploits of a baseball bigot by the name of John Rocker.

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-- Dave Golowenski


Salon Staff

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