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January 24, 2006

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Comments

Walker

Insofar as Google's business strategy is concerned, you're absolutely right. IBM has been little criticized for its role in helping the Nazi's track the jewish population of Germany, and that company has become one of the more prominent symbols of 'good corporations' (especially concerning their support of the open source software community).

It's an easy decision, then, for Google to make - that is, censoring its contents so as to get an early foothold in the burgeoning chinese internet market. That said, the question remains: at what point do Larry and Sergey draw the line? There are going to be many more decisions that will face this company and its founders - many of which the 'right' decision isn't necessarily the 'not evil' position. So, while this decision on China, in the short run, is unequivocally right, and, as you say, pragmatic, you haven't adequately addressed the problem that overshadows all decisions like this: what is more important to Google - making money, or not being evil? Very soon they will realize that the two concepts don't go hand in hand.

JD

Oh shit, this is terrible news!! I own http://www.evalongoria.cn and if billions of horny little Chinamen can't do searches on Eva or the upcoming syndication of Desperate Housewifes in China, then I'm screwed. My business model is completely ruined.

cpj

i agree with some of the ideas expressed in your posts. certainly, i didn't expect Google to act purely on moral principle, but nonetheless, there is a certain disappointment that comes w/ that realization. having lived in China for awhile and also having been exposed first hand to things that would never make it past the Chinese censors, you have to remember that while thinking about the long-term that we don't forget the "little people". By that i mean the people, some of whom I have met and some of whose stories I just try to follow online as best I can, who have had their lives seriously disrupted by that government b/c they for whatever reason went against the grain and tried to say something or communicate something that wasn't allowed.
I guess i should be laughing at this joke about the "horny little Chinamen", and normally, even though I'm Chinese, my sense of humor would allow me to do so. But somehow when i think about those people, that punchline just falls a bit flat, if you know what i mean.

Patrick

Google bows to the China government but is against the US government's attempt to prevent child porn? Help me out here?

Walker

Patrick - the key here is that the US government has death camps for people suspected of terrorism, it's not yet on the Chinese level of having death camps for people who exercise free speech - though we're getting there.

anon

Yeah right. Do no evil unless it pays well! Google, in effect, says: to hell with human rights and democracy as long as they make lots of money.

cpj

Consider this article from the washington Post about yet another Chinese publication that has been forced to be closed down because of government authority. Just a couple of weeks ago, the government fired most of the editors of another enterprising beijing based paper. I think if i were Google ceos i might have done the same thing they did, but i'm not. So instead i'm choosing to evaluate these actions within the larger context of media freedom in China. Check out China Digital times if you want to keep yourself updated about the state of unfreedom in China

Paul De Zan

I've been very impressed with this blog effort of yours. But you are just dead wrong about this. Dead wrong. What your are saying, in essence, is that the "mature" decision is to Do Evil.

"If this were 60 years ago, would Google be agreeing to censor out news of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in order to have access to Nazi Germany’s Europe?"
-Bruce Kesler

Oh yes. Oh yes they would.

Yassir

Its not a matter of how " offensive" the Chinese government's restrictions are, its about violating basic human rights. The right to free speech(good enough for Americans but obviously not for the rest of the world) is just one of the many human rights routinely violated by the Chinese government.

Let’s not be too dazzled by China’s economic prowess, or by its enormous trade surplus with the USA, to do what’s right. If we claim that we’re exporting democracy and shining the light of freedom in repressed countries, we can’t pick and choose where we do it, depending on whether there’s something in it for us. There can’t be two standards for democracy and freedom, one for us and another for the rest of the world. Not even for Google.

Yassir

Its not a matter of how " offensive" the Chinese government's restrictions are, its about violating basic human rights. The right to free speech(good enough for Americans but obviously not for the rest of the world) is just one of the many human rights routinely violated by the Chinese government.

Let’s not be too dazzled by China’s economic prowess, or by its enormous trade surplus with the USA, to do what’s right. If we claim that we’re exporting democracy and shining the light of freedom in repressed countries, we can’t pick and choose where we do it, depending on whether there’s something in it for us. There can’t be two standards for democracy and freedom, one for us and another for the rest of the world. Not even for Google.

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