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Wait, Google - I Thought You Were Evil!

Thanks to Jeremiah for sending these over. News is fast hitting about Chinese hacks against Adobe and Google. Very interesting stuff. But beyond the hacks themselves - in Google’s case targeting Chinese political dissidents - is this interesting news:

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

Wow! And I do mean wow! Google is no longer willing to take the political hit associated with their flippant stance towards China’s censorship and is actually stepping up to do the right thing! Absolutely amazing. This is the first really truly non-evil thing I have seen Google do in years. I read a really funny article the other day by Fake Steve Jobs where he called Google sociopaths - and until today I agreed with that statement. Now I think at least they know what the difference between right and wrong is, even if they’ve definitely chosen the wrong route a greater percentage of the time than not.

Of course there is all kinds of potential for spin in Google’s blog post. For instance never once did they explain how their cloud wasn’t secure and you shouldn’t upload sensitive information to something that’s not secure if you care about that kind of thing. But alas, I’d never expect that either. Convenience will win that war over security either way. But it’s exciting news, and I’m interested to hear what the fallout of this one is.

11 Responses to “Wait, Google - I Thought You Were Evil!”

  1. EpEpEp Says:

    Or maybe the Chinese government was about to step up filtering requirements which Baidu could easily comply with, within the political context within which they do business, but google could not bear those requirements…or maybe Google was about to be forced out anyway, maybe some of this is part of the promised retaliation for our continued insistence on selling weapons to Taiwan, etc…I’d like to believe that some concept of idealism was behind this move by google but maybe it was a PR move ahead of an already looming .cn market ejection, which may or may not have been precipitated by political moves by their competitors inside China. Just speculation of course…”dual use politics” are fun and slippery things.

  2. RSnake Says:

    @EpEpEp - I completely agree with that assessment. There are a great deal of sub possibilities here. They could also be trying to soften their landing for the investment community. It’s easier to say you are withdrawing for the good of humanity than you failed - and I bet the public rewards them in PR if they do pull back. If they win in China, it means massive sweeping changes within the populous and possibly even the downfall of communism in China - I’m thinking that’s got pretty much no chance of happening.

    Anyone know where Nexus One is being built and assembled?

  3. Someonelse Says:

    …and about the nexus one, with the google china issue on world news, nobody will talk about the apparent failure of this new phone… well played Big G.

  4. Wornstrom Says:

    They are going to “try to operate an uncensored search engine within the law”. I’d have suspected that meant “we won’t be censoring ourselves anymore… the government will simply be censoring the information we send back instead to achieve the same results.”
    However, this doesn’t appear to be the case. High five, Google!

  5. Cress Says:

    I’d be hesitant to think Google did this solely out of good will. Regardless of their intentions though, I’m glad they are making this move.

    One thing though I don’t understand entirely… How is pulling out of China going to change mitigate the attacks? While there isn’t much info on the information that was pilfered from Google themselves… the bulk of focus seems to be on human rights activists’ accounts being targetted. They can stop all dealings with China all they want, that isn’t stopping those attacks as far as I can tell.

    Putting the spot light on China and saying to the world ‘this is a problem’ is still nice though. It’s not like this is breaking news here, but for people to see and hear it from Google could be raising the bar for other companies who deal with them. Guess time will tell.

  6. JJ Says:

    Google is finally lost its temper to our government, and its a good news that I finally see someone say no to them. But if google is disappear in China, my IT career will be hard to go on. I don’t think there’s any replacement beside goole in mainland China, Baidu can just search entertainment news. Furthermore, I’m fear that the government will block up google after its leave to “protect” the company like Baidu for “good” reasons……

  7. Someonelse Says:

    Ok, if you work in IT you shouldn’t be even going through the filters IMO. The censorship is for the masses, buy yourself a 5$/month vps somewhere in the world and ssh tunnel or set up a vpn through that (including DNS requests obviously).

  8. Montejam Says:

    Wow…you said something nice about Google. I thought I’d never see the day.

  9. OneFromChina Says:

    I hate those look for excuses for their failing on business but always resort to politics. Google is playing very well with the American Gov. The American Gov is utilising the companies all over the world to serve for the solo politics. FUCK YOU EVIL GOOGLE

  10. Come on Says:

    You actually think they did this because it’s right? Come on, youre way smarter than that. This was their only weapon against chinese government and they used it after chinese hacked their systems. If chinese hadn’t got caught, they would be still censoring results like they did many years before this.

  11. RSnake Says:

    @Come on - Oh, I’m very much aware of the double speak. :) I just like to give them the benefit of the doubt. A “few weeks” is up tomorrow, incidentally - which is how long they said they would be reviewing their situation. So I’m all prepared for tomorrow - with bated breath even! :)

    In the mean-time, there is an excellent article over at http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2010/01/24/google-for-good%E2%80%A6or-just-for-money/ which, to your point, says that if Google cared about censorship they’d stop censoring everywhere, and not just China. Alas - it isn’t really about censorship at all, is it, Google? So sneaky!