Friday, January 27, 2006

Whose responsibility is freedom?

Google Gagged, but There's Hope
Google said its decision to launch a sanitized version of its famed search engine using China's ".cn" suffix was aimed at reaching China's massive internet audience. It defended the move as a trade-off.

The new site, launched on Wednesday, omits independent websites from searches about human rights, Tibet and other topics sensitive to Beijing. Instead users are directed only to websites espousing the government's views on such issues.

One prominent human rights advocate, U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, said it was "astounding" that Google, whose company motto is 'Don't Be Evil,' would cooperate with such censorship "just to make a buck."

"Many Chinese have suffered imprisonment and torture in the service of truth — and now Google is collaborating with their persecutors," said Smith, who has called for legal sanctions against U.S. technology companies that aid Chinese web censorship.

Amnesty International said such cooperation clearly curtailed freedom of expression and information, calling Google's policy "short-sighted."

It is true that Google and other corporations could choose to take the high road and refuse to help the Chinese government censor its people. But that would be completely above and beyond the call of duty for an enterprise that was created to develop technology and make a profit.

Cure the disease, not the symptoms.

3 comments:

Oge said...

In spite of pithy slogans that look great in a press release like, "Don't be evil.", never forget that a corporation is a legal entity that has no moral compass whatsoever, is constrained only by what it can wiggle through the legal code and is motivated only by the drive for profit. Kind of like lawyers.

Patterson said...

That's absolutely on-point. Exactly right. Companies only care about moral issues when it affects their bottom line. Just curious - are mission statements considered legally-binding? I'm just wondering because here's Google's:

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Sort of ambiguous...especially when you compare it to someone like Merck: http://www.merck.com/about/mission.html

Anonymous said...

Kind of like lawyers.


Are you trying to bait me?