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Monday, January 30, 2006

See no ****, hear no ****, speak no ****?

The web was abuzz last week with discussions about Google's decision to release a localized version of it's search service in China. The service itself is not the big news, but rather the fact that it will be censored to remove certain entries that the Chinese government deems inappropriate. This move seems to clash directly with Google's don't be evil mantra, as well as with their supposed mission of organizing the world's information and making it easily available to everyone.

Speaking in defense of this move on the Official Google Blog Andrew McLaughlin, Google's senior policy counsel said that this decision was made as they (Google) felt it was better to provide the Chinese population with a limited service, than with no service at all. While I understand their point of view, as well as the need for a business like Google to do what it needs to get into a market as important as China, I find it really worrying that even this angelic company is willing to sacrifice their supposed scruples for a piece of the pie in this country, especially considering the results of recent similar activity by other companies/products in the same space, Microsoft's MSN, and Yahoo. While China is undoubtedly well on it's way to being the single most important economic force on earth, allowing it to dictate the way business is conducted, to the detriment of free speech is extremely irresponsible. If China is allowed to establish such standards, what is stopping other governments for using them as an example and employing similar tactics? I am not typically one to throw around phrases like 'The Greedy Corporations', but in this case I think such labels are appropriate, and moves like this by such entities could quite conceivably spell doom for the information freedom that has developed over the last few decades thanks to the internet.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Miktar here.

Read: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/google-in-china.html

Read: http://www.gabbahead.com/?p=71

Read: http://www.gabbahead.com/?p=68

It helps to develope a slightly bigger worldview.

Flint said...

Check the post again, I linked to your first reference.

As I said, I can understand their position, however their (and other companies') activities are setting a rather disturbing precident. Right now it's just China, no big deal and no major effect on us. Fine. However what happens when other governments start looking at what China has achieved, by getting rid of this pesky 'freedom of information' thing, and decides to implement their own, similar controls? This is bigger than just one search engine in one country in the world..

runsun pan said...

I agree with you, Flint.

In a healthy society, people/organizations who have power have greater responsibility to what value this society is gonna build and hold. We all need to consider what value we want to teach the next generations to come. The decision of google to beg for mercy from an authoritarian power by sacrificing its values for the purpose of business has tought us that whenever some power grow strong, it's justifiable to submit to it in order to gain benefit from it, even when doing so will facilite the flourish of such an evil power. google has tought us that whatever strongly claimed social values -- justice, fairness, ethic ... whatever, are all lies 'cos the true value we should honor is business.

This is far beyond the scope of 'surviving struggle' and way into the 'greedy' category.

In the path of breaking down social values and assisting the establishment of an evil power, google did play a major role.

Shame on you, "greegle".

-=robbie=- said...

Keep in mind that this isn't just censored information, this is propagandized information. I'm sure you can easily find some articles that compare results between google.com and google.cn, so I won't go into the specifics. However, it boils down to the fact the Chinese government isn't just blocking certain websites, it is promoting their own sites that allow them to portray stories (like Tibet) they way they want their people to believe (aka "propaganda"). In many ways, it would be better to not give China access to any information, rather than wrong/biased/skewed information.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if nobody ever heard Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech? If Rosa Park's brave defiance was silenced? If all the other courageous voices of the civil rights movement had never been heard?

Imagine if all newspapers and media of that era had been censored by our government.

You know what today's America would then be like.

Why then should we accept justifications and excuses from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco and all the others who, to line their pockets with cash and prop up their quarterly statements, provide China's regime with the means to keep their own Martin Luther Kings and Rosa Parks silenced?

And if it's "ok" to use American technology to prop up a terrified dictatorship halfway around the world; how will we be able to object if or when the same technology gets used at home, against you and me...

...once there is nobody left who can stand up and shout: "I have a dream!"

Flint said...

Eg-bloody-zactly! The US (and US companies) are very quick to put down the tyranny in the middle east, and haul ass over there to depose dictators and (very graciously of course) take up contracts to 'rebuild' the country. However when it suits them, they can justify supporting tyranny of another kind in China, that is used to mask atrocities juast as bad as those carried out in Iraq.

Hmm.. Now that the US government has open access to just about everything on the net, I wonder if they'll decline next time I have to apply for a VISA? :P

 

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