Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Google Ignores its principles

Google rightly in the past through its search engines and videos and images etc has been praised as an ocean of freedom of speech and expression, promoting the Internet as a freedom zone. For example it was through google search engines and images you could see the Muhammad Cartoons. It was through google video you could see clips of Jerry Springer the Opera. It appeared google stood firmly against censorship.

All this was true until recently. Google in its dealings with China seemed to have forgotten their principles, and left them at the door to its negotiations with the Chinese government. There were worries when google first went into China considering China's high record of censorship which seems to be taken straight out of George Orwell's 1984 manual, which China's authoritarian government seems very fond of. It was reported today that Google rather than letting Chinese Citizens see the freedom of the web with no censors, so for example they could look up stuff relating to Tibet and the 1989 Tiannamen square massacre through going through Google's Hong Kong search engine. It was a loophole where google let Chinese citizens see the world in the way they could see it, not controlled by their government.

Today though google closed the shutters on this window of truth for Chinese Citizens. This is because Google did a deal with the Chinese Government where they can now stop Chinese citizens from reaching this loophole and even further they have made sure that google's China search engine is now censored by the Chinese government, that's to say the Chinese government now basically controls it. Google then inadvertently through doing this is strengthening an authoritarian regime, by giving them a pass to control the Internet, one that before was not open to them.

Google as a private company first point of call is to their customers, they have ignored the millions of Chinese customers who would like to see the real world through a free Internet and not a world as the Chinese Government wants them to see it. Not only that they are now offering a half baked service to their chinese customers. It is up to other search engines to take advantage here and stand up for the principles of freedom of speech and expression through the internet and use the loopholes of the internet to get past Chinese Government censors. Maybe then Google might learn the lesson that listening to customers and standing up for your principles is more important than having a cosy relationship with a dictatorial government.

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