A while ago, I wrote about Google’s decision to start censoring information in order to be able to do business in China. In that post, I said how hypocritical it was of them to do so, while having a “do no evil” slogan. Google PR jumped through all kinds of hoops to explain their decision and make it look positive with little result.
It appears now that they are waking up to the reality in China. At least they have the guts to admit now that their decision to censor information was not such a good idea. As Brin noted:
“Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense.”
It made more sense from the start. It seems that they are taking such a position now only because the Chinese government is coming with even more, and quite likely far reaching, demands which could explain why they suddenly started blocking more of Google’s services. In my previous post which I mentioned at the beginning, I wrote the following:
And it will only go downhill from here. Once they start doing business there and start to rely on it, the Chinese government will have more power over them and will get them to agree to even more things.
This seems to be what’s happening. The good news is that Google might not give into the demands this time, and will likely have to move out of China.
This is the only good option they have, in my opinion. Censorship is a fundamentally bad thing. It keeps people in the dark, uninformed, uneducated, ignorant etc. and it gives others a great deal of power over them. It lets governments and organizations get away with crimes, even against their own people. It keeps the truth from reaching people. It helps to make the world a bad place to live in. There is nothing positive about censorship, and I wouldn’t want to be involved, even indirectly, in helping to censor information.
Pretending to have “good intentions”, as Google did, and say “at least we were trying to help the people there and provide them with the information they are allowed to view” doesn’t help those people on the long term. It helps the government to keep censoring information, and to prevent valuable information to reach the people. The only solution that will have more of an impact on the long term, is refusing to do business there. If people in China really need the products and services you offer, they will up the pressure on their government to allow them to use those products and services. That’s what we need in China. People need to know their rights and need to stand up for what they believe in and what they want, or else, the government will keep abusing their powers.
Ofcourse the solution I described above is not very attractive to corporations like Google in the financial sense. So it will be interesting to see what they’ll do. Even Microsoft and Yahoo need to get the hell out of China as fast as possible, or they will have to face having to comply with even more questionable demands from the Chinese government. I wonder what is taking Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer so long? What’s going on guys? Is the money and the business there more important than doing something right? Are the shareholders more important? Is growth more important? Are you going to help the Chinese government to take away the free speech rights of their people?