I think we’re all onboard with the idea that a company operating in a certain place should obey the law in that place? We are? Good.
Except that’s not actually the demand of the woke in this day and age. Apparently people should only obey the laws approved of by said woke.
Take, for example, Alex Cobham and the Tax Justice peeps. India has decided – for whatever reason, doesn’t matter – that investment poured into the country via Mauritius doesn’t pay tax in the same manner as that made more directly. This might be a good thing, might be a bad, that’s another matter. But this is what the Indian government has decided and has passed laws to make it so.
Yet when someone invests through Mauritius and thereby entirely and wholly obeys Indian tax law this is tax abuse and should not stand. Obeying laws that Alex Cobham and Tax Justice don’t like isn’t woke, d’ye see?
Amnesty International is doing the same here:
Facebook and YouTube are complicit in “censorship and repression on an industrial scale” in Vietnam, according to a report by Amnesty International that accuses the platforms of openly signalling that they are willing to bow to the wishes of authoritarian regimes.
Facebook’s executives have repeatedly promoted the platform as a bastion of “free expression”, but in Vietnam, where there is little tolerance for dissent, the company complied with hundreds of requests to censor content earlier this year. This includes peaceful criticism of the state by activists, which is protected under international human rights law.
We expect Facebook to obey English law here in England. Describing blokes in dresses as blokes in dresses is verging on a hate crime these days and we expect them to expunge hate crimes from their pages. Sure, we can agree or disagree with whether the blokes in dresses thing should be a hate crime or not but we do all agree that the laws of England apply to those who operate in England, yes?
OK. So too Vietnam. The laws of Vietnam apply to those operating in Vietnam. We can disagree with what those laws are, sure we can. I’m no more in favour of state censorship than anyone else. But to castigate Facebook for obeying local law is a rum do, eh?
Actually, it’s more than rum, it’s colonialism. Those stupid – browner, poorer, slant eyed – foreigners are too vicious and stupid to know what laws they should be applying. Therefore we edumacated scions of the western upper middle class should tell them what to do. To the extent of insisting that companies should not obey local law.
To argue that Vietnam shouldn’t have those laws is entirely fine and I’m with you. To argue that Facebook should break them is – well, would you like Facebook’s UK attitude to blokes in frocks to be defined by Vietnamese law? If not why not?