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Nevermind, I Was Wrong, Google Is Evil

I’ve been waiting a while to do this post - several weeks actually since my original post. In that post, I applauded Google’s apparent interest in reigning censorship as “the first really truly non-evil thing I have seen Google do in years”. Since then, I thought it appropriate to give them some time to sift through the nuances of their blog post - you know, to give them the benefit of the doubt - of which I had many. I’m sure you remember just one month ago when Google was waxing on about how they were going to stop censoring:

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.

Well, according to The Register:

Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond never said his company would stop censoring hot-button issues such as the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

If that theory is true Google is essentially saying, “You were too stupid to read our post properly because clearly, our post means that we aren’t able to do so legally, so we’re still going to censor.” If that’s true why would Google wait to clarify such an extremely well publicized fauxpas in their own wording? Maybe they missed all those flowers at the Chinese office. No, I don’t believe that The Register’s theory is true - I think Google sincerely intended to pull out or get more support from the Chinese. However, I believe that Google is being stonewalled by the Chinese government - and for good reason. Google’s demands are impossible to comply with. But we all know that Google and China have been talking for weeks and we haven’t seen any movement other than China’s response to Hillary Clinton saying that they don’t censor (and if anyone still needs proof, email me and I’ll give you instructions on how to see it in action).

Google hasn’t stopped censoring anything, and they haven’t pulled out of China. They asked for a “few weeks” to have those talks, and it has been a few. So now we have to ask the question - does Google actually care about the Chinese people, or is it all about making money for the shareholders. We know that Google censors elsewhere in the world, it’s not just China, yet they’ve not even made mention of those citizens of the other nations. So we have to make the logical connection that Google is just acting in their own self interest and this whole China thing is a distraction from several other major issues, and has nothing to do with the best interest of people who are being censored. So now the real question is did Google do what it sent out to do?

And, so yes bravo, Google. Well done. You snowballed everyone as you stall for time trying to figure out what you want to do with your failing Chinese division. You spanked the Chinese government for hacking into your systems while you drew fire away from your crappy security around your warrant-less wiretapping system that you built into Gmail. So yes, I would have to assess Google’s incredibly calculated decision as a success, but not for the people of China or other censored peoples around the world. It’s back to business as usual at the Googleplex. And so yes, Google, you can keep slinging your ads well into the future. But I have to ask - at what cost?

12 Responses to “Nevermind, I Was Wrong, Google Is Evil”

  1. Cap'n Refsmmat Says:

    Last I read, it wasn’t confirmed that it was, in fact, the wiretapping system that was hacked:

    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/02/more_details_on.html

  2. DucDigital Says:

    Google is into money. No one can resist it power. Just think of 300 million internet user in just China only and 40% of it’s share with baidu. It’s a great number. So I think Google is intend to put it anger aside and continue money making in china.

  3. Tom T. Says:

    The link “they don’t censor” is broken. It points to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8474011.stm%22,
    which gives a 404.

    This post and the last, about phishing Google Wave, scream for the obvious response: Everyone, just quit using *all* Google products. Do your searches through Scroogle — no cookies, no Google ads, and SSL, for whatever that’s still worth. Close your Gmail account and find another. Block google-analytics.com JS with NoScript, or use the automatic script surrogate. Block google-syndication.com the same, except where you truly want to support the host site with the ad revenue.

    Etc. Just boycott them. When the’ve lost enough revenue, then, and only then, will they re-think their policies.

  4. piR Says:

    You have a link error on “they donít censor”

    Great post tough.

  5. RSnake Says:

    @Cap’n Refsmmat - I’d like to hear Google deny it before I discount it. It would be interesting if their system for wiretapping were unrelated though.

    @All Thanks guys - I fixed the link.

  6. TC Says:

    RSnake - in the spectrum of evils though - do you think it would be better for Google to keep serving the Chinese people in some way (agreeing to censor results to have a robust alternative to Baidu) or to pull out entirely?

    I’m very interested to see how this end game plays out. Especially in regards to the attacks having been state sponsored. Along with other anti-western anti-business activities (arrests of rio tinto employees, capital punishment of mentally retarded western drug smuggler despite protests), will business and capital retreat from a totalitarian regime or will this “state capitalism” and “controlled economy” keep up the balancing act between growth and control?

  7. RSnake Says:

    @TC - Google specifically said that they wouldn’t stand for censorship. I think their answer now is, “Oh, wait, yes we can, just kidding.” I think their commitment to the Chinese people is a red herring - it’s all about dishing out more ads.

  8. vxbinaca Says:

    If you post were about privacy I’d fully agree. However you’re not seeing the forest here. I like the Ted Turner quote in the comments in the Schneier link:

    “If you have a really good friend, and you owe them a large sum of money, you probably should not do anything to piss them off.”

    Even if you were foolish enough to use Microsoft products all up and down the chain (especially Bing which is a disaster), at the end of the day Google is a drop in the ocean compared to their purchase of our Treasury bonds.

    A lot of the criticism, and no offence intended you do make good points especially about them joking about not censoring, out there against Google is misdirected.

    Sure Google wants to sell ad’s to people in what amounts to nice gulags. But if you wanna escape giving money to the Chinese, you can’t. That ‘puter your typing on, the pizza box way far away that servers your site, our national debt, the rubber dog shit you leave on our friends bathroom floor at a party as a practical joke, all financed or are products of China.

    And no one wants to live without those things.

  9. RSnake Says:

    @vxbinaca - I didn’t mean to give the impression that I don’t like China, or it’s government. I mean I think every individual has a right to say and read whatever they want without censorship as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else in the process. China can go about their path as they chose, but their people should be free to make their own choices in life.

  10. kriviikk Says:

    Google’s is a money corporation, and im not surprised to see that these “meetings” have yet to happen. Or if they even do happen and I agree with RSnake I hate the fact that China has the feeling to cap on what there people have to view.

  11. binky Says:

    Google is not “Evil” any more than Einstein was Evil.

    I think they are a bunch of too clever technologists, who bring evil into the world because they consistently fail to anticipate the consequences of their inventions. Powerful technology needs to have a powerful moral compass: theirs is broken or non-existent.

    http://www.squidoo.com/google_good_or_evil

  12. austin Says:

    i sense a thinly veiled “einstein helped invent the a-bomb” myth in your statement binky….

    anyhow…i am back and forth on google. im a big fan of open source and they make a LOT of open source projects, from what i hear their offices are also great to work at. but they pay a lot for these projects which they then DONT sell…this has always been a problem with the Open Source Community, you can get a lot more done (especially things that aren’t fun to do) if you pay people, but how do you pay people for something you arent going to make money on.
    ubuntu handles this by the guy just being rich and can afford it…more power to him.
    red hat sells “enterprise editions” to make money. many communities accept donations. Google sells ads. which my hatred of ad companies and my love of open source communities has left me somewhat conflicted…by and large they balance out. because i can overlook google being an ad company and doing evil ad company things…because they do such nice things like giving to the open source community. its combining the good of the open source community with the motivational power of a closed source company(money). and its a business plan which has been by and large successful.

    google tried to make a bluff against the chinese govt to get them to stop censoring them, the govt called it, and they backed down. they had no intention of pulling out of china. however this may make them look weak and may make the chinese govt more bold in what they ask of google. that alone could be an issue.

    in the grand scale of world politics google just isnt prepared. they make software….they sell ads…they are not able to compete in the political arena…