Google’s often-cited philosophy is to not do evil while carrying out its mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” With such lofty ethics, it came as a surprise when the search engine that so many of us trusted to neutrally parcel the Internet launched Google.cn on Chinese soil in 2006.
As part of the arrangement to break ground in the Communist nation, Google had to agree to a substantially censored version of its search results to appease Chinese law. In the Official Google Blog, the company defended its decision:
“Our launch of Google.cn, though filtered, is a necessary first step toward achieving a productive presence in a rapidly changing country that will be one of the world’s most important and dynamic for decades to come. To some people, a hard compromise may not feel as satisfying as a withdrawal on principle, but we believe it’s the best way to work toward the results we all desire” (January 27, 2006).
This is an extremely well-written argument for profit (“a productive presence”). Since I am a devout capitalist, I understand the reasoning completely; even without the weight of a publicly run company on my shoulders. That said, I have to wonder if Google’s actions may be seen as support for China’s policies, by changing its search results to support an Orwellian regime fraught with accusations of human rights violations.