I’ve long disapproved of American companies’ willingness to go along with oppressive regimes’ human rights abuses. Some companies have given information on dissidents to governments and helped in the apprehension of political prisoners. This has attracted significant attention over the years, both in the media and in Congressional inquiries.
For years, Google has censored search results on their Chinese domain, Google.cn, in an effort to keep their site from being blocked by the “Great Firewall of China,” which blocks access to countless sites on an unpublished Government blacklist.
Today, Google made public their findings of targeted malicious break-ins to Google accounts of various activists for Chinese human rights, both within China, and in the U.S. and Europe. The attacks weren’t exclusive to Google, but widespread across other major companies.
Amazingly, after finding this, Google has made the decision to fight back and stop participating in China’s self-censorship mandates:
These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
I applaud this policy decision by Google. It’s a shame that American companies benefit so often from doing their business in ways that support corrupt governments, and our own country should do more to prevent it from happening to others.
China is growing and has the potential to improve the quality of life for people worldwide, but it has some very disturbing issues that it needs to address as it matures