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Google Admits Compromising Principles in China 459

Posted by samzenpus
from the sorry-about-that dept.
muellerr1 writes "Google co-founder Sergey Brin admitted that it had adopted 'a set of rules that we weren't comfortable with' in their Chinese activities. Though it doesn't yet sound like they're admitting to actually doing evil, it does appear that they are thinking about pulling out of China rather than compromise their 'do no evil' motto."
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Google Admits Compromising Principles in China

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:43AM (#15487170)
    If Google is not evil and China is, then it's just logical that they'd pull out. We wouldn't want a rift in the space-time continuum now, would we?
    • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:00PM (#15487840) Homepage Journal
      If Google is not evil and China is, then it's just logical that they'd pull out. We wouldn't want a rift in the space-time continuum now, would we?

      I don't know about that.

      The thing is, uncomfortable engagement can be more effective than complete, self-satisfied and puritanical shunning. There's no end to what people will do to push back against those who shun them. In fact it becomes a useful explanation for every failure: the bad guys are out to get us. Think Castro.

      Most of the time advocates of "constructive engagement" are just hypocrites who want to pay lip service to right and wrong. Google is not like that, I think, but it puts them in a sticky position. Some will fight them on moral grounds. Others will waffle in between. It's a messy and uncomfortable situation, whereas boycott is very clean and simple. The good thing about it is that it has the effect of making the party in question deal with the messiness, to explain and justify itself over and over. They'll spin, adjust, tweak and struggle to find some kind of comprimse that will square the circle. It's never enough to make them decide to take their ball and go home, but it never ends either. It'll be a continual embarassment. When the elite travel overseas, there'll always be a moment of uncomfortable silence when they talk to somebody while that person tries to figure out a way to navigate around the proverbial elephant in the room. Eventually, they may just decide it's eaasier to change than to put up with it. Think South Africa.

      So, what I'm saying is it's a good thing that Google is involved with China, although it is not necessarily "good" in a moral sense. And at the same time it's also a good thing that China and Google are getting a PR hiding by people. If Google is forced out, let's hope it's after a long struggle. Then China and the paladins of human rights can start struggling over choice #2. Then #3, #4 etc.

      It's an unappealing situation for the people involved, because it's messy. But messy is sometimes good. Keep it very nearly unbearably messy, but not quite. That's the ticket. Turn it into a tub of pig shit with a pot of gold at the bottom. Sooner or later they'll decide to quick trying to fish the pot out with a stick and muck out the shit.
    • by alucinor (849600) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:50PM (#15488774) Journal
      The U.S. is pretty evil too. I hope they pull out of there.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        The U.S. is not perfect (voting citizen speaking here) but it is damned good.

        You can insult the President, swear at the VP and still go home to your family. Try that in another country.

        While the U.S. is slowly dying, it has been a wonderful place. Sadly the Republic turned into a Democracy and finally now into Lawyer and Mob rule. Sad days are ahead but looking back, we have changed the world. Slavery, woman's rights, equality, free speech.....thanks to a bunch of rebels in boats.
        • by zsau (266209) <{slashdot} {at} {thecartographers.net}> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @08:03PM (#15491244) Homepage Journal
          Slavery was abolished in the British Empire by 1838; it was not abolished in the US till 1865. Women had the right to vote in New Zealand from 1893; in the US it was not until 1920 (with legislation at a federal level overturning territory legislation as late as 1887. Desegregation is associated with the US because segregation was...

          Don't fool yourself: America had some early innovations, but has been very conservative ever since. It's what happens when you teach yourselves you're perfect already.
  • Good for Brin! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by smug_lisp_weenie (824771) <cbarski.4503440@bloglines.com> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:43AM (#15487171) Homepage
    The China censorship issue was a very difficult decision and, no matter how you look at it, they chose the less moral option... If they truly follow up and reverse their policy on China I will have to cease my usual cynicism and admit that Google may truly be a _moral_ company!

    Go Brin! Go Google!
    • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:47AM (#15487202) Homepage
      He made these comments many many months after people started talking about this, and it's probable he only did it now because the criticism was getting to a point where it was beginning to affect their other business. If they really felt it was so wrong for them to do it, they either would have pulled the plug much earlier or not gone in to China under those conditions in the first place.

      If they pull out of China, it will be for business reasons, not moral ones. Sure, they get to act like they're doing it so they won't be "evil," but they'll really be doing it because they're afraid the bad publicity the China issue has been generating and will continue to generate will drag down their numbers in other areas.
      • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DeusExMalex (776652) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:00AM (#15487317)
        And yet even if they pull out of China for purly business reasons they wouldn't be doing evil. (Unless you consider successfully running a business to be evil.) "Don't be evil" != "Be good"
      • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EMeta (860558) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:11AM (#15487407)
        Actually, no. Pulling out of a country who will have more internet users than America and Europe combined in the next 10-15 years is not good for any internet business. There is no amount of publicity enhancement that could cover this change, especially since there are no other large internet companies who are competing with Google for the least evil award.

        Taking a moral path is not about always being right. It is about always striving to be right & taking the care to reevaluate situations based on the current and future situations. I'm just glad there are still companies who know the M word.

        • Google may have to look at whether having more internet users that don't have the same disposable income to buy their advertisers' products is worth alienating a smaller user base known to have the spare cash to buy their advertisers' products. Their advertisers will be watching.
      • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gid13 (620803) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:12AM (#15487414)
        If he's doing it for business reasons, then you probably have a very high opinion of capitalism. However, if it's indeed business reasons, one would have to wonder why Microsoft, Yahoo, et al have not been pulling out too.
        • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Otter (3800)
          However, if it's indeed business reasons, one would have to wonder why Microsoft, Yahoo, et al have not been pulling out too.

          Google's image (and stock valuation) are based heavily around the company's halo. They're a lot more sensitive to criticism of their integrity than Yahoo is, let alone Microsoft.

          That said, I'll still give them credit for doing the right thing, should they actually do it. I do wonder if all the hyper-fanboys who were talking about how Google is saving China, so providing censored sear

          • What is interesting to me, is the thought that pulling out could potentially do more good in China than staying out could have.

            Consider this situation: Google abruptly ends service in China, replacing their main page with a brief message that says something like, "Google is halting search service in china because they are unable to comply with Chinese law." They could post this with no explanation, and then later they could post an explanation that gave their moral stance, with justification by example
      • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        If they pull out of China, it will be for business reasons, not moral ones.

        And it's up to all of us to make sure that good morals = good business.
      • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smallpaul (65919) <paulNO@SPAMprescod.net> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:29AM (#15487585)
        If they pull out of China, it will be for business reasons, not moral ones. Sure, they get to act like they're doing it so they won't be "evil," but they'll really be doing it because they're afraid the bad publicity the China issue has been generating and will continue to generate will drag down their numbers in other areas.

        There really is no externally observable difference between morality and publicity in this case. Their motto is "don't be evil." So they've set up their business so that being evil will generate a disproportionate amount of bad publicity. They've organized everything so that morality and publicity are inextricable: more so than in ordinary businesses. That in itself is admirable. But in the end, why does it matter what their internal motivations are? Why do you care? If we reward companies that do good and punish those that do bad, more will do good. If we punish those that do good with cynicism then there is no (business) reason for them to do good.

        • Well the story we got in China today was quite different....

          404 error. Server stopped responding. Blah blah generic (but obvious) "Great Firewall" block.

          Google.com and gmail were down sporadicaly all day. My company is currently talking to google about training, i would have loved to have been in that office today watching them flip. Beijing will make you respect their power, if google doesnt want to play nice alibaba, yahoo, MSN and many others will. Remember that companies are not run by public opinion, t
    • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phillywize (980138) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:56AM (#15487281)
      Whatever the equities of Google's deal-with-the-devil agreement with the Chinese government, it speaks well of Google that they're even copping to the problem with knuckling under to censorship. Things obviously aren't as bad as they could be; things would be much worse if Brin were maintaining that what they did in China was the greatest thing ever. A company willing to question its politically controversial decisions publicly is probably not irretrievably evil. Whether it's moral is another question.
      • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Darby (84953)
        Things obviously aren't as bad as they could be; things would be much worse if Brin were maintaining that what they did in China was the greatest thing ever. A company willing to question its politically controversial decisions publicly is probably not irretrievably evil. Whether it's moral is another question.

        However, as long as there are companies who don't care (Microsoft, Yahoo etc.) it really doesn't matter all that much. In general morality is punished by the market. That's why Capitalism is an inhere
    • The more useful observation is that the economic advantages for doing business with China are so significant that even a company that has often put morality above economics in the US, can't help but compromise its morality. We already know that almost every other large corporation compromises it's american employees and consumers to do business with them.
    • Re:Good for Brin! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by masklinn (823351)

      The less moral? They explicitely state that search results were filtered out at the very top of each page that should've hold censored results for god's sake. And for non-filtered results they bring the google quality of searches and size of index to China, which is in my book a very good thing indeed.

      What's left to the chinese once Google pulls out? Baidu, the chinese-gov-shoes-licker, Yahoo who helps imprison bloggers and MSN whose staff takes down blogs without even a warning mail? Woohoo, i'm sure that

  • Why now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:46AM (#15487188) Journal

    Speaking in Washington, Sergey Brin, Google's billionaire co-founder, said the company, which operates under the motto "do no evil", had adopted "a set of rules that we weren't comfortable with".

    In a hint that Google could adjust its stance in China in the future, he added: "Perhaps now [emphasis mine] the principled approach makes more sense."

    So what took you so long Sergey? Why now? Why couldn't you see this was a bad idea from the start? Talk about coming to the party late!

    Just how much back-pedalling Google does now should be interesting, as this is no doubt going to cause revenue problems in the long run and a bit of a publicity flap in the short run, though if Google decides to finally stand on its principles and other companies like Microsoft and Yahoo don't follow along, it should regain a lot of standing in many people's eyes. Well, except for the Chinese government's anyway...

    • In a hint that Google could adjust its stance in China in the future, he added: "Perhaps now [emphasis mine] the principled approach makes more sense."
      I'm disappointed that even the Great Google himself can't actually speak in bold.
    • So what took you so long Sergey? Why now? Why couldn't you see this was a bad idea from the start? Talk about coming to the party late!

      Maybe because it looked like a really good business opportunity back then, and doesn't look so hot right about now? I think perhaps they underestimated the American public's (and more importantly, Congress') interest in the activities of our technology companies in being the enablers of oppression overseas.

      You don't just wake up one morning and decide ``hey, remember when we

      • "If you actually had any morals, you would have realized that in the first place"

        Or perhaps they made a moral mistake in the first place and have now realized it....
      • I'm a little tired of this constant false distinction between what's good for business and what's moral or ethical. The way I see it, what's moral or ethical is just so *because* it is good for your survival in the longest, broadest consideration of things.

        I like to use a swimming analogy. We're all in an infinite sea, with no shores and no bottom. To stay afloat (alive), you've got to do something that keeps you from sinking. The obvious answer here is "swim!", but consider that you could also hang off of
      • Re:Why now? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#15488013) Homepage Journal

        If you actually had any morals, you would have realized that in the first place.

        You mean you've never done anything wrong, that you knew was wrong at the time, and then later realized that you just can't live with it and have to fix it?

        I'm not saying that's what's going on here, I have no idea whether or not Google is actually going to change it's approach to China, and I have no idea what the real motivations will be if they do, but I think it's important to remember that decisions are made by people, and even very moral people make mistakes. The way you can tell that they're very moral people is that they can't just leave it at that, they fix their mistakes if at all possible. It takes a great deal of moral courage to admit that you made a mistake and did a morally reprehensible thing, but admitting to it is a prerequisite to correcting it.

        In this particular situation, I can see how the mistake could be made, pretty easily. The moral question isn't as clear cut as many here seem to think. Which will really help the Chinese people more, a censored search service or no search service? I also think Google made the wrong decision, but I can see how easy it would be to justify the one they made, particularly given the high incentive to do business in China.

        If Google ends their censorship in China, it may well be for purely business reasons, and the moral issues may just be a smokescreen, but to presume that *must* be the case is excessively cynical. Don't attribute to malice (or evil) what can be adequately explained by incompetence (or error).

    • if Google decides to finally stand on its principles and other companies like Microsoft and Yahoo don't follow along, it should regain a lot of standing in many people's eyes.

      Neither Microsoft or Yahoo have absurd company mottos legally binding them to moral behavior.

    • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:14PM (#15487970) Homepage Journal
      >Why couldn't you see this was a bad idea from the start?

      Given what little we've heard about the internal debates at Google, they were crystal clear that it was a bad idea but decided the alternatives were even worse:
      Problem. Chinese people lack access to non-governmental information
      Answer. Do something that results in their government shutting down Google altogether.

      Should you choose your actions based on their effects or on your principles? Ethicists could argue either side of that until you ran out of the room in boredom. Google chose, or tried to choose, the greatest good for the greatest number. We can all guess what rms would have done in their place.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:46AM (#15487190)
    Even the slashdot editors have compromised too.

    From their FAQ: [slashdot.org] I thought everyone on Slashdot hated the RIAA, the MPAA, and Microsoft. Why do you keep hyping CDs, movies, and Windows games?

    Big corporations are what they are. They sell us cool stuff with one hand and tighten the screws on our freedoms with the other. We hate them every morning and love them every afternoon, and vice versa. This is part of living in the modern world: you take your yin with your yang and try to figure out how to do what's right the best you can. If you think it has to be all one way or the other, that's cool, share your opinions, but don't expect everyone else to think the same.

    Nobody is perfect, not even Google.

  • by binarstu (720435) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:46AM (#15487193)

    I certainly hope that other companies, particularly Yahoo, which has been implicated in providing information [amnesty.org] to Chinese authorities leading to the arrest of political dissidents, will feel pressured by Google's recent announcement to be more candid about their own policies regarding operations in China. If our big Internet players were to stand up for what is right, it'd be a powerful statement for human rights.

  • Hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GmAz (916505)
    Following a countries laws is evil? To hell with paying taxes then!!!
    • by jcr (53032)
      Following a countries laws is evil?

      Depends on the law in question. There was a time when it was illegal to hide a runaway slave in the United States, for example.

      -jcr
    • Yeah, it might have something to do with the fact that the country is effectively a dictatorship. Think about that next time.
  • they lose my trust (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xlyz (695304)
    I understand that chinese market is tempting, but any company that I shall trust with so many information on me shall not be ready to compromise with any govern / administraion / authority. They'll gain China, but they'll loose me.
    • This is them pulling out of China, not going into it! I agree that they shouldn't have entered China in the first place, but at least they are admitting their mistake. I'm impressed by a company that can admit it is doing something morally wrong, but take steps to correct themselves despite the fact that they will lose billions of dollars by doing so.

      Now they just need to admit that DRM on Google Video is evil, too, and they're back in my good books!
  • Yeah, right. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kid Zero (4866) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:47AM (#15487201) Homepage Journal
    It's easy to admit you did something bad after the first few large paychecks for compromising your beliefs. I'm sure that pile of cash will soothe their guilt over the decision.

  • Shareholders? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chrismcdirty (677039) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:47AM (#15487204) Homepage
    How will the shareholders feel if they pull out of China? Would that be acting in the shareholders' best interests? I'm not sure if ignoring a possible 1.3 billion people would be the best for them in the long run.
    • Re:Shareholders? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:19AM (#15487473) Homepage Journal
      Would that be acting in the shareholders' best interests?

      Unbelievably, the choice between "Do Evil" and "Do no Evil" is irrelevant as Google is obliged by law to follow the shareholders interests above everything else.

      Sad, sad, sad state of affairs, where a company is required by law to do what many consider to be immoral.
      • Re:Shareholders? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by at_slashdot (674436) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:01PM (#15487846)
        The company principle is "do no evil" Shareholders by buying into Google stock subscribe to that principle, they can't hold Google responsible for following their declared principle.
      • Re:Shareholders? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Herkum01 (592704) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:10PM (#15487928)

        The law is also very flexible about allowing a company to determine what "shareholder interest" is. A large number of shareholders are interested in stock price and dividends but there are people who determine their investments beyond stock earning power. [scotsman.com]

      • Re:Shareholders? (Score:4, Informative)

        by anaesthetica (596507) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:13PM (#15487962) Homepage Journal
        Unbelievably, the choice between "Do Evil" and "Do no Evil" is irrelevant as Google is obliged by law to follow the shareholders interests above everything else.

        Perhaps, but remember that Brin and Page issued an "Owner's Manual" for their stock when it was issued, and that it was issued in two different classes. Class A stock has much lower voting representation than Class B stock (a ratio of 1:10 voting weight). Class B stockholders are the ones with real power to steer Google, and Google's Class B stock is tightly held. Brin and Page together hold 33% of the Class B stock, which is enough to ensure that they can direct the company.

        Co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page own 33% of Google's Class B stock [securitypronews.com] and have developed a voting structure that would let them keep the control of their creation. According to CNN Money, Brin owns 38.5 million Class B stocks while Page owns 38.6 million. The voting system that the two have put in place allows holders of B-level stock to have 10 votes for each share. Owners of Google's Class A stock, which is what Google will be offering to the public, will have only one vote per stock. CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, owns 14.8 million Class B shares. Venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital each hold 23.9 million Class B shares. After that, the next largest Class B stock holder "is investor K. Ram Shriram, Amazon.com's former vice president of business development, with 5.3 million shares, or 2.3 percent."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:48AM (#15487210)
    Googlasia went public today sporting a motto "Do As Little Evil As Possible". Stocks soared from the opening price.

    It will be interesting to see how this holds against their primary competitor, Microsoft which has embraced the Chinese market. They do not stand to lose their image or their corporate motto of "Screw Everyone."
  • New Motto (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Do no Evil... Do compromises.
  • by Tojo-Mojo (707846) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:49AM (#15487229)
    Google complies with the DMCA, which requires it censor certain search results (for example, "kazaalite" http://www.google.com/search?q=kazaalite [google.com] will display a notice at the bottom indicating search results were removed).

    Admittedly, it doesn't go as far as China's censorship, but this is a slippery slope. Why is censorship there "evil", but censorship here is not? Google is complying with the law. Yes, I think it's a bad law. But since when is obeying the law evil? Why is it up to Google to crusade against government policy? Are they some kind of political super-hero?
    • The difference is that the DMCA does not prevent you from expressing an opinion. If I write something critical of a person, an organization, or the government, the DMCA cannot legally be used to silence me. It can definitely be used to harass people (calling up my web host and claiming I have infringing material), but provided I have not actually violated copyright, nothing can be done.

      Contrast this with China, where you can get thrown in jail for having a non-compliant opinion.

    • by fbjon (692006) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:03AM (#15487336) Homepage Journal
      Because following the law isn't the same as doing the Right Thing (tm), especially as the laws get more oppressive or totalitarian. Unless of course oppression or totalitarianism happen to be the Right Thing, which I don't presume.
    • Google complies with the DMCA, which requires it censor certain search results (for example, "kazaalite" http://www.google.com/search?q=kazaalite [google.com] will display a notice at the bottom indicating search results were removed).

      Yeah but google links to the complaint which is probably just as bad because it explicitly states which websites are removed. :) Jeez the website google links is a cournicopia of websites people think are either doing copyright infringement or selling warez.

    • Google is complying with the law. Yes, I think it's a bad law. But since when is obeying the law evil?

      This might come as a surprise, but in a republic, *citizens get a say in determining what the laws are*.

      In China, they don't.
    • "But since when is obeying the law evil?"

      If an when obeying a law (which may or may not be evil) causes you to do evil, you have done evil. The law is not a "get out of evil free" card.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If Google stay in China, people call them evil hypocrits, pandering to a brutal government. If Google leaves, people call them stubborn information whores. Either way, the people of China are the ones that lose. Between the two, I think that the "some censored iformation is better than no information". While they can't learn about tank boy, perhaps they can learn other useful information (encryption, bomb making, etc.)

    As much as we like to make fun of America, at least we don't have to worry about [severe]
  • by paulthomas (685756) * on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:50AM (#15487236) Journal
    Google has employees in China. I can imagine how the treatment of these employees might be used to the advantage of the Chinese government if Google is weighing whether to pull out. It would be truly dirty for the government to threaten the welfare of former google employees in discussions with the management, and it would lead to quite an international conundrum. At the same time, it is possible. China isn't exactly known for protecting human rights. Thoughts?
    • If the Chinese government were to threaten or cause harm upon employees of any corporation doing business there, be they current or former, it would seriously limit the desire for other countries to want to do business with them. I know my company does some business in China (we do business in other, less hospitable parts of the world, too), and I know that we'd have reservations sending our people into a line of fire.

      I also wonder if it leaves the company open to some form of international litigation -
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:50AM (#15487238) Homepage
    After making such statements, they have no choice but to pull out now.

    Many companies are starting to follow Google's lead in many ways and on many things. If they say they are considering pulling out and then fail to do it, the disappointment in Google will be enormous. If Google lived and prospered everywhere EXCEPT China, that could only serve to make Google look good and China look bad.

      I feel pretty much the same about IP and DRM issues in the world where if the world refuses and legislates against IP and DRM leaving only the US with such restrictive laws, it will really make the US look bad and evil.
    • Ridiculous (Score:2, Interesting)

      by simscitizen (696184)

      Did you RTFA? All he says is he can see why someone else would come to a different conclusion than they did. And it's not like Google pulling out is going to do a shit. You think making a search engine is something special? If Google pulls out, they'll just use some other censored search engine like Baidu. If eBay pulls out, they'll just use another online auction site. No matter what any corporation does, it won't have a damn effect on the grand scale in China. There is enough technical expertise there alr

  • Google (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Blue6 (975702) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:50AM (#15487242)
    Is a publicly traded company will see how big their balls are when the stock holders get involved.
  • by unity100 (970058) * on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:51AM (#15487244) Homepage Journal
    This will be a first in this scale.

    It might be so that we might need to ask vatican to bestow sainthood on google at this rate.

    I have to admit im impressed.
    • Woah there chief....

      Praise them when/if they do the right thing. Not when/if they consider doing the right thing.

      Else I will consider a devout life.
      I will consider doing more charity work.
      I will consider devoting all my financial resources to helping the poor and underprivlidged.

      And then I will ask to be cannonized myself.. WHEE.. I'm a saint!

      Actually I think over at http://www.ulc.org/ [ulc.org] you can buy/donate your way to sainthood, but that's another story.
    • Yeah, i'm shocked about this whole pulling out business. I mean we all know China isn't on the pill, but I would've thought that a company as responsible as Google would at least wear a condom.
  • Amazing. (Score:5, Funny)

    by alex_guy_CA (748887) <alexNO@SPAMschoenfeldt.com> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:57AM (#15487298) Homepage
    I've never in my life seen a corporate head admit wrongdoing so quickly without being forced to by a court. This is simply amazing.
  • Interesting... (Score:2, Insightful)

    I think it's interesting that Google's execs had made this decision, but I think it may harm them in the long run because essentially China's market is going to grow without them. Opportunities lost and means to affect progress on a country that nearly imploded on itself in the 1950s and 1960s that probably would benefit the most. The more I look at our own country, the USA, the more I see that Google ought to leave it by comparison. I admit, The PRC as a governmental entity is a digusting little thing, but
  • by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:02AM (#15487331)
    As far as I can tell Google continued its "Do no evil" policy in China. They didn't take anything away from Chinese users- they merely offered a new Chinese service that openly filters results. How many Chinese search engines mention that they filter results? When your alternatives are to let the Chinese filter Google for you (making your search engine slow and unusable, and hiding that results are filtered) or filter it yourself (so people actually use your search engine, and tell people you are censoring data), what would you do? Google isn't hurting the Chinese- (Unlike Yahoo!, which gives the Chinese government personal data) it just can't help them much.
  • by jjohn (2991) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:03AM (#15487334) Homepage Journal

    I don't understand why there's anger at Google for obeying Chinese laws. Do I agree with those laws? Hell no. But business is business. Google doesn't make money from fostering democracy in foreign lands. They make money from selling ads. China is potentially a very large market, and so Google is doing what it has to as a profit-oriented venture.

    If you feel the need to blame anyone, blame the dictators. Google is just doing business.

    And before this discussion degenerates into WWII analogies, remember that Google is just a damn search engine and what's being repressed are just frigging web pages. No human is being abused or tortured by Google's actions.

    The reaction I've seen on this site on others to Google's decision is way out of line to what was done.

    I have no doubt that China will need to liberalize their government. If they want to be an effective technological power, they will need smart people and that means increasingly free access to information.

    • If you feel the need to blame anyone, blame the dictators. Google is just doing business.

      And before this discussion degenerates into WWII analogies, remember that Google is just a damn search engine and what's being repressed are just frigging web pages. No human is being abused or tortured by Google's actions.


      Just doing business. Only following orders. Caught up with the mob. It's only the Communists. Too young to know better. To old to think straight. How many other excuses are there?

      Bottom Line. Google are in bed with those dictators. Sure, maybe not every night of the week, but most nights. They're making money by colluding with a totalitarian state. No amount of excuses, handwringing, poignant apologies or clever excuses is going to change this fact.

      If Google could not make money in China, they would never have sacraficed their oh so precious principles. But when faced with the mountains of riches on offer to them by simply caving into demands contrary to their stated values, they caved. Oh how they caved. They sold the good ship "Don't be evil" up the river and set sail for the high seas of profit, to return holds bursting with yuan and Party contacts. They caved, caved hard.

      You want to keep making excuses for them, fine. While you're at it, make some excuses for arms dealers that sell to "choppn' off heads n' shit" third world dictators. Make some more for companies that forced bonded labourers and their children to toil for the sake of business. And don't forget to make some for yourself.
    • If you feel the need to blame anyone, blame the dictators. Google is just doing business.

      How do you think dictators get to be dictators in the first place? Business is not just business.

  • As Google becomes more and more popular, and thus http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/15/043 6246 [slashdot.org] more and http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/05/15 26221 [slashdot.org] more of a target, they are being forced to walk on eggshells, making moves like this that edge them farther out of the way of potential law suits.

    The more breathing room we give them as a company, and the less people target them, focusing law suits related to searching, with the only reason they sue google being they are the most recogn

  • by Stevecat (198954) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:05AM (#15487352) Homepage
    of why I still refuse to trust Google with my information. "Do no evil" - except when it hurts the shareholder's bottom line. Google is still a public corporation and no matter what the employees profess to strive for the company exists to create profits. I am pretty surprised that Google does not have a 10 year policy of erring on the side of morality to prove to skeptics like me that their motto is more than just marketing hype. To me it appears that having a stock price over $300.00 / share is the real priority.

    -SmR
  • other evils (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChristTrekker (91442) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:06AM (#15487362)

    Google drops conservative sites from Google News. [wnd.com] Interesting that 98% of all political donations by Google employees went to support Democrats. Also, Al Gore is a senior adviser to Google.

    Now, I'm not playing a partisan finger-pointing game. But these kinds of "censorship" tactics give the appearance of "evil" worse than that which they are trying to avoid, IMO. Especially when there seems to be political motives. If some news site posts factual news, real honest truth, then I don't see how you can object to it on any basis just because you don't happen to like it. That holds whether the truth hurts the political Right or the political Left.

  • Talk v. Action (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Churla (936633) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:07AM (#15487376)
    This is nice PR and a nice spin attempt. The question is what follow through it will see. Maybe i'm just too dyed in the wool of my cynicism but right now the only "wrestling with the problem" they are doing is rolling around on a pile of money they are making through compromising thier ethical stance.

    It will boil down to which is more important, profits or ethics. They're a publically held company which makes me think ethics won't win.
  • by flumps (240328)
    Money has more value than principles.

    As a company, they will always chase money. I doubt they will "pull out", the tie in is too strong for them to compete now.
  • Is it "Do no Evil" or "Don't be evil" ?
    I've heard both attributed to the Google motto, but they are very different imperatives.

    There are moral models in which a good person might have to do an evil for some greater good. (Work with China for the purpose of engagement)
    It would also be possible to produce horrible effect without ever commiting any identifiable evil act. (We are just following the local laws.)

  • Show them you care (Score:3, Informative)

    by dino303 (876573) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:22AM (#15487515)
    Google is one of the very few companies which have a chance to remain "morally good" while still being successful. They just need to know that the people appreciate their "don't be evil" credo. For those who care checkout http://web.amnesty.org/pages/internet-110506-actio n-eng [amnesty.org]. regards lukas
  • by ZSpade (812879) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:25AM (#15487540) Homepage
    Seriously, what options did google have? It could either appeal to the Chinese government, or not offer it's service to the chinese people in any shape or form. I think everyone needs to take a step back and look at the real evil in this picture: China. China is responsible for this whole mess, whether google is there or not there will exist censorship, and almost no human rights, especially the right of free speech.

    I'm not saying Google can truly do no evil, I simply do not think they have done any evil here, not to merit the criticsm they have received for their actions at least.
  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:47AM (#15487734)
    Before 1994, South Africa held the title of "most hated nation". Nations who persisted in trading with South Africa said that not to do so would disadvantage the poorest, mainly black, South Africans. Other nations ranted against South Africa whilst perpetrating their own heinous abuses of human rights.

    Anyway, Google run their server farms on cheap motherboards ..... where do they think the components for those boards are made?

    The unpleasant truth is that it's damned nigh impossible to avoid doing business with China one way or another. And if you do manage to avoid China, then you will end up paying over the odds for everything you buy, and be unable to compete in the marketplace.

    Write to your Elected Representatives and ask them why we are allowed to import goods which have been manufactured under conditions which would not be acceptable in the destination country? It's all very well for countries such as Britain and the USA to have environmental, consumer protection and workers' rights laws; but when imported goods sidestep those laws, locally-produced goods become uncompetitive and the benefits that should have brought by those laws are lost. Something's got to be wrong when it's cheaper to fly a plane halfway round the world and back than to treat your workers like human beings.
  • The best approach (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@aCOBOLmiran.us minus language> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:48AM (#15487744) Homepage Journal
    The best approach is for Google not to self censor. Google should offer a Chinese language portal, and make the results as broad as the English language portal.

    Should China's firewall decide to censor certain portions of the portal, or certain search terms, thats not a big deal; that's China's responsibility.

    This means:
    A) Google doesn't _really_ have to pull out; they just have to run their operations off-shore (from China).
    B) Google doesn't have to actively work to circumvent Chinese law. That would be illegal. Rather, Google provides Chinese language search results to the whole world, and China is reponsible for filtering content at the ISP level.
    C) Savvy internet users in China may be able to circumvent the law, similar to the way they current use proxies to get at unfiltered English language results.

    This paints Google as a bastion of freedom, while still maintaining best-possible service in the Chinese language, and dumping all the responsibility of censoring to China's state-run ISPs.
  • Perspectives (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Datasage (214357) <Datasage AT theworldisgrey DOT com> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:24PM (#15488067) Homepage Journal
    Did google do the right thing is changing is buisness practices to do business in china?

    The problem is what is the right action on googles part in this situation. If you look at the issue of ethical company practices, it is correct for a company to follow the laws of the country that its doing business in.

    But in this case the law has to do with censorship and freedom of speech. Each culture has its own perspectives on freedom of speech. Even in the US, speech is not completly free (libel, slander, media gatekeepers, political correctness, hate speech).

    China has its own ideas of what free speech means. Sure many people in the US and Europe dont agree with it. But at the same time, there hasnt been a revolution in China to change that. Its not Google's or any corporations job to change that. They are responsible to thier shareholders and responsible for following the law where ever they do buisness. Free speech in China will come, when the people of China want it.

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