By Lauren Gelman on January 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm
What is so amazing about the news that Google will stop censoring search results in China and may pull out altogether, is that the impetus for this has nothing to do with search. Gmail accounts were hacked. IP may have been stolen. The China/Google arrangement on search results appears unaffected by the recent events.
What happened today is that Google declared China is no longer fit to be their partner. Five years ago the argument Google made was that it was appropriate for companies to respect the local laws in jurisdictions they operated in, and while China’s were distasteful, the benefits of engagement and increased information flow made the censorship requirement worth it. At the time I thought this was a really hard question and I still think it is: Where is the line between engagement and appeasement? Could complying with a requirement of censorship ever be appropriate?
Today, Google gave us one vision of how to draw the line. By (allegedly) hacking human rights activists’ email and stealing private assets, in cyberspace the Chinese government has shown themselves to be more closely akin to a criminal enterprise than a legitimate government partner. And so a compromise between speech restrictions and increased information flow that was reasonable with a legitimate partner is no longer legitimate, even though nothing about the terms of the original compromise on search has changed.
Google says “trust us” a lot and it usually drives me crazy. For today they’ve won my trust. This decision is a game changer. It will be interesting to see what happens next.
marv January 27, 2010 at 3:01 amPermalink
i like china and the people and the culture but the politics are very bad and i hope that one day china will stand up and fight for more freedom. so far marv
Gregor January 25, 2010 at 1:39 amPermalink
Good move from Google. The Internet is for everyone and what brinks a censor? do they thing when Google censor the People doens't come to the Information they want? politics....Gregor
Marquez van Hinten January 21, 2010 at 12:57 amPermalink
It will be very interesting to see, how the new federation Microsoft/Google will be involved in this matter anytime soon. Interesting process right now.
Alain January 18, 2010 at 4:33 pmPermalink
A very interesting development indeed. But I'm somewhat skeptical that Google's intentions have anything to do with opposition to oppression or support of freedom. As previous commenter pointed out, where was this opposition when they made the deal in the first place?
If that's not the reason though, I'm curious what is..
lzDale January 16, 2010 at 7:59 amPermalink
Although google is the victim this time, it can drawback anyway. The biggest one is the people from China. We are looking forward to a few better situation. Currently, the English word government need to be separated like gov-ern-ment so that it can appeared on the BBS posts, no need to mention the Chinese, no matter what's the attitude, pros or cons
skeptic January 14, 2010 at 1:18 amPermalink
I'm with "give me a break"...
If you switched Google's and Baidu's market share numbers, does any one think they'd still pull out of China?
come on January 13, 2010 at 4:44 pmPermalink
Give me a break! "commitment to human rights from Google"? are u serious? if so, why google did what it did in the first place?
It is business, business, and business. Nothing but a carefully calculated cost/benefit analysis.
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