Google are suddenly the darlings of the middle left. The public announcement that they may consider a change in view of its operations in China is being heralded the world over by selective groupings.
I'm in a relative sense, a proponent of Google. I remember the days where I and some other techs I worked with first started using the search tech. And we used it for the reason of simply it was the fastest, and most accurate search engine, and it really did blow the rest into the weeds.
Google since then has grown into this current large scale company. Its a proponent of the destruction of privacy, a concept I will never accept, or believe in. That however, means careful selection of the usage of Google. I use its services in cases where my personal information and privacy remain as such.
In terms of China, there are two arguments. The first is that if you choose to operate in a state, the simple fact is that you have to operate within the law. Operating and being somewhere for companies equates to making money. And most companies are not picky about the mismatch on ethical or moral ground when in the process of making money. To be fair, I don't think it should land on any company to be put in a position where it has to fight governments, and laws, and states. Companies are like citizens, and there are limits. However, like citizens, they should play their part. On the other hand, I'm no fan of companies getting so deeply enmeshed that they in effect take over or are forced to take over or become government.
History has shown in multiple cases, that this is not a great model.
Google has suffered a serious setback however. It, like ISPs and other forces, in the collection of data, deems itself to be the arbiter of that data. The owner, controller, manager, money maker of that data. It got a rude awakening when it found itself as being the lightening rod conductor, and the chinese secret and state services decided that they felt differently. Chinese dissidents, and 3rd party people who are active in areas of human rights and so on, have been under assault in the Google structure. Google has played down this, claiming that only tertiery break ins have happened.
Google - like many many companies has been involved in choices it made with government states. One of these deals in terms of Google (but certainly not limited to Google) - was a choice that it would censor things on behalf of a state that has serious, and very serious ongoing Human rights and other abuses. In so doing, it is NOT the hero of the hour today in stating its considered change. You don't, and should not get brownie points for reverting a disgusting decision that should never have been made in the first place.
But the issue here goes beyond Google. It does smack right between the eyes the current level of ethics and morality politically and commercially the world over. The Google system, and its inate lack of 'privacy' encouraged a system in China, where by the offering was so good, a flys on shit senrio was created. Dissidents and others the world over apply for free accounts, and the free accounts can then be raided by the state. Its not just in China, but you could start making a very long list.
The Google moment is a false one. Google was prepared to censor a billion people's access to the world, but its antagonised because by comparison, its had a rather smaller number of accounts under assault by the same state it made a dirty deal with. I guess its argument comes down to the fact that censoring a billion is better than one man being dragged out of his house and thrown in one of the many mobile exterminator Vans the Chinese operate.
Governments, and Companies continue to clammer for 'data' and systems. But if you collect data, or enforce systems to contain data about people, the lesson is again made clear. The idea that the good guys get the data, and the bad guys do not, is a cookoo laaaalaaaa land insanity. If the bad guys do not, they do not have it in the here and now, but they soon will, or they will soon try. And where they fail, they will enact other operations.
Today, the Great firewall of China and Iran are being enacted across the globe. Australia is one of many making such moves that 5 years ago, would have been viewed with extreme predjudice. Today its being deemed normal, and its being deemed thus in a boil the frog climate of change, where ongoing changes are accepted without challenge.
I do applaud Google for making a stand, but its not really enough. Other companies jumped right in and stated that if Google did not want to do business there, they gladly would. Heroic of them. Many others (Nokia, Cisco and many more) play prominant parts in programs in states like Iran and in China, and have a very direct role in what happens.
Today its a man who held a Google account in China, and tommorow he may be in a death van. In Tehran a man may be picked out by Nokia equipment and he may be for the noose tommorow. Another man may be selectively found via Cisco equipment. None of this is new, but it is all real.
These operations, just like IBM in Germany and its operations that it took coin for during the 3rd Reich, have outcomes that cannot be discounted. There is a serious balance between following the law, and doing the right thing. If the laws in some states are so bad, and the states themselves are so bad, then the fact you may make money there has to be offset in terms of wether you are committing a crime, and not all crimes are in Law.
Google collected information, and the chinese state now chooses to do as it always has done. Google went in there with an aspiration that China would modify over time and improve. Instead, as Google has found to its own cost now, States like China operate at a different level. The modus operandi has a complete moral plain that does not match.
If Google pulls out of China, which I personally doubt, then fine. But I'd only really applaud them if they announced that in future they would not censor their search engine for anyone. However, the idea that they may not be censoring western states is probably untrue. The 'free' world, just like China is going through this process.
But if Google and others like Google don't make a moral stand now, then who and where will it ever happen. If nothing else, I suppose its at least an interesting can of worms to watch and make your own observations on. I personally expect Google to make a new deal with the devil. And the devil will simply moderate somewhat its activity, or make a new approach. And the game will go on.