MSNBC has an article today where Google defends its cooperation with Chinese censorship. Choice quotes from CEO Eric Schmidt include:
- “We believe that the decision that we made to follow the law in China was absolutely the right one,” Schmidt said at a news conference.
- Schmidt said Google’s managers were stung by criticism that they accepted Chinese censorship, but said they haven’t lobbied Beijing to change its rules.
- “I think it’s arrogant for us to walk into a country where we are just beginning to operate and tell that country how to operate,” he said.
I think it is arrogant for a company to market itself as some belevolent purveyor of knowledge (“Don’t be evil”), and then not take a stand when confronted by a regmine that wants to limit the information available to its citizens. Sure, Google balked at the US DOJ’s attempt to get search records (a stand more about trade secrets than anything else), but they certainly don’t mind stepping on liberties when the alternative means they can’t deliver “sponsored ads” to billions of Chinese.
To claim that Google censors political thought because they don’t want to be arrogant is the height of hypocrisy, and a logical fallacy as well.
Nobody said Google should walk into China and dictate how they should operate. Nobody said Google had to walk into China at all.
The beautiful thing about the “Don’t Be Evil” ethic is that it’s simple and obvious. When someone starts making an elaborate rationalization in favor of questionable behavior, applying the evil test could stop it in its tracks.
My 11-year-old daughter understands intuitively that censorship is wrong. It takes Eric Schmidt and a Ph.D in computer science to defend the indefensible.
Well said, mb. Keep up the good work on your blog.