After the recent hack attempts on Google to garner the private emails of Chinese human rights activists, Google has made a daring attempt to restore their self proclaimed moral responsibility and fight against the censorship of the Chinese government on their web service. Google has accomplished a workaround to the censorship by forwarding tens of millions of Chinese users and their searches from google.com.cn to their Hong Kong server google.com.hk. Hong Kong, which has held an admiral amount of autonomy from China since being released from UK rule in 1997, does not have to adhere to many of the strict censorship policies of the Chinese government.
The attempt by Google to allow Chinese users to be able to search without the approval of their government, looking up such volatile terms as democracy, human rights, and The Dalai Lama, China was immediately able to block out all unwanted websites. The parry was done quickly, and the Chinese were not allowed their censorship-free searches for very long.
This poses a lot of questions about the future of Google and US technology in China. Although Google makes very little from China, only about 24 million of their 24 billion annual profit, China is still an emerging market and there is a lot of profit to be gained in the future. There has been speculation that this helps other US interests, as Google currently employs some exemplary programmers and engineers in China who may be looking for employment from manufacturers like Microsoft. There is also the concern about the success of Google’s Android phone which is due to be released in China later this year.
Ultimately, what’s truly important is that Google has upheld their motto ‘Don’t Be Evil’ in a way that is commendable in every way. Although Google never directly blamed the Chinese government for the hack attempts, they took a stand that said censorship was anathema to Google’s foundation and in a bold move redacted years of placating the Chinese government.
I commend Google for their actions, even in the face of very serious repercussions which have yet to be seen. Now that Google has a mobile device, an operating system, and other valuable technologies on the way it’s imperative they keep a stand on their moral responsibility to keep information free and open, and respect each individual’s rights. This is especially important in an age where Google has acquired hundreds of millions of people’s private information including IP addresses, searches, system settings, and even location. So I hope, for everyone’s sake, that ‘Don’t Be Evil’ is true, and that this is a large step in the right direction. I guess we’ll see.