Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BBC News - Google postpones China mobiles after censorship row



Read the article here: BBC News.

Google is quickly extending its purportedly beneficent tentacles into every facet of our lives - at least our electronic and telephonic lives. I personally use Google Docs, Chrome, Gmail, Calendar, Earth, Translate, and I would love their new Nexus phone. Despite my slight resentment on this daily encroachment by one company, I love their services so much, I shall continue to use them. There are many benefits to using their service. They are free and they do promote open development.

So when I heard that Google is standing up to China because of hacks to the accounts of reporters and human rights activists through their Gmail service, I couldn't help but feel relieved that they are taking such a tough stance. Their rejection of China's censorship is an affirmation of my loyalty.

Granted their altruism might be motivated by desire for a greater market share, but I would rather think it was not. I would rather think that they came to their senses and realized that what they were doing was wrong and they wanted to remediate the situation.

Many people scoff that they only have 30% of the browser market share in China, and thus their actions won't hurt China. Those people don't understand that for a foreign company to have 30% of the market share in China is actually a great feat. They have made inroads in a country where many outside business fail. It will hurt their bottom line to pull out of China -- another reason why I hope their current battle cry is for the people of China, and not to line their pockets.

My friend Michael of Sweden pointed out that:

"Google is definitely an interesting company with an almost unprecedented ingenuity and growth in modern computer software tech. Only Microsoft itself has taken such command of the markets.

As people pat the company's back for taking a stance against the dictatorship, they could use a reminder that Google had no problem with censoring and helping to block internet traffic, information and browser searches until its own product, Gmail, happened to become a target of espionage.

Those 30% of the browser market were only possible because Google gladly crawled for the despots and sold its software there - on Chinese censored terms. But I guess since all foreign companies in any industry have to do the same to gain any ground on that potentially massive market, that makes it alright.

I'm not boycotting Google (great products!), Yahoo or any number of companies for earning a buck while brown-nosing tyranny, but I won't applaud them for taking such minor action after years of condoning and appeasing censorship."


Michael brings up excellent points, but again, I hope Google's stand against China doesn't flag, but bears some fruit for human rights in China.

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