Google Admits Mistake With China, But..

Filed under:Politics, Tech, Web Log (Blog), D. Sirmize — posted by D. Sirmize on June 8, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

I’ve always said that in order to be successful at something, you don’t need to know your stuff.  You just need to know how to Google it.  In 1999 I took a part-time job in a company’s surplus warehouse.  Bored with logging serial numbers and testing PC’s for Y2K compliance, I decided to branch out.  I offered to cover for the company’s tech support staff during meetings and lunches.  I barely knew enough to boot to a floppy and run a small Norton utility that checked for Y2K compliance.  But I like challenges, so I often found myself manning the help desk for an organization of about 3,000 users.  I didn’t have a clue.  But I had the Internet and a little engine called Google.

I credit Google with helping me work my way to a full-time tech support/network administrator job at that company. 

But Google’s recent antics have left a bitter taste in my mouth.  In defense of its principles of freedom and privacy, Google refused to provide anonymous search information to the Justice Department (a simple survey that inferior search engines like yahoo readily complied with).  But after snubbing the U.S. government on matters of principle, Google bent over and grabbed its ankles for the Chinese government.  They agreed to censor their Chinese service to eliminate any online information that communist government deemed inappropriate for its people.

The agreement outraged many American users, some vowing never to use Google again.  Michelle Malkin hosted a Chinese Google Protest Logo Album (which includes the one that leads this post).  Some of them are pretty hilarious.

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page justified the censorship agreement, saying that some informational freedom in China was better than no informational freedom in China (translation: some money from China is better than no money from China).

But AP reports yesterday that Brin acknowledges that his company “compromised its principles” by caving to the Red Chinese:

WASHINGTON - Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands. He said Google is wrestling to make the deal work before deciding whether to reverse course.

Google’s China-approved Web service omits politically sensitive information that might be retrieved during Internet searches, such as details about the 1989 suppression of political unrest in Tiananmen Square. Its agreement with China has provoked considerable criticism from human rights groups.

“Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense,” Brin said.

Good!  The boycotters can start using Google again now, right?  Not so fast.  The article concludes:

Brin said Google is trying to improve its censored search service,, before deciding whether to reverse course.

Ok, so we admit we compromised our principles, but let’s see if we can make it work before pulling the plug.  That’s like confessing that you’re having an affair, but only going back to your wife if things don’t work out with your mistress.  Apparently Brin thinks a partial apology about China is better than no apology about China.  Google believes in principle, but only as a last resort.

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