Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google, putting Itself on The Line

We have been harsh on Google for giving in to China's censorious ways. Google is proving to have charactor and Google is stepping up to the plate in the name of freedom.
Google Inc. will stop censoring its search results in China and may pull out of the country completely after discovering that computer hackers had tricked human-rights activists into exposing their e-mail accounts to outsiders.

The change of heart announced Tuesday heralds a major shift for the Internet's search leader, which has repeatedly said it will obey Chinese laws requiring some politically and socially sensitive issues to be blocked from search results available in other countries. The acquiescence had outraged free-speech advocates and even some shareholders, who argued Google's cooperation with China violated the company's ''don't be evil'' motto.

The criticism had started to sway Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who openly expressed his misgivings about the company's presence in China.

But the tipping point didn't come until Google recently uncovered hacking attacks launched from within China. The apparent goals: breaking into the computers of at least 20 major U.S. companies and gathering personal information about dozens of human rights activists trying to shine a light on China's alleged abuses.

We congratulate Google for doing the right thing, and present a tip of the hat to Sodahead who lays out a clear explanation of what this all really means.

What’s more, the AP story cites a Google blog post stating that the company “is no longer willing to continue censoring our [search] results.” This would mark a dramatic about face from Google’s previous policy of complying with the Chinese government’s insistence that they omit certain objectionable search results.

Finally, it seems, a corporation has learned a much needed lesson from doing business in China: playing by the “law of the land” isn’t always a guarantee of safe passage. Google thought that by being above-board in accommodating China’s “Great Firewall” it would be spared clandestine observation and manipulation by China’s Brobdingnagian internet censorship regime.

What this shows us is that no amount of appeasement is enough to satisfy the paranoia of China’s Internet Mandarins. Google’s getting burned so pointedly, and its equally pointed response, will hopefully serve as a rejoinder to corporations around the world that do business over Chinese servers.
Hopefully China backs down and maybe the good people in China will be free to explore what other folks think and believe around the world.

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