Thursday, March 16, 2006

Google-whacking

Am I the only person who thinks the world's favourite search engine has done nothing wrong? Certainly, nothing to warrant the vitriol that has been targetted at them over the past couple of months.

It's all about their decision to create www.google.cn, a China-based version of their ubiquitous search site. Where lefties are getting their knickers in a twist is the fact that Google agreed to Chinese Governmental demands for censorship of key words such as "democracy".

"Don't Be Evil!" is the company's motto, and many people think that this acceptance of censorship is the company being as evil as a company can possibly be. Of course, there are a lot of people who will immediately pounce on tidbits of news that might suggest a great corporation of the world has done something wrong and have conniptions of glee (Gary, this means you...).

Unlike the Chinese language Google.com that was available previously, Google.cn is run off servers based in China, which provides users with faster access to information. Now, the Chinese government censored Google.com, using their snappily named “Great Firewall Of China” (the wags), so surely this move is beneficial to Chinese netizens?

The fact that there are approximately 100 million of them, with ever increasing numbers each year, and the potential ad revenue boosts this will create merely shows that Google are finally accepting the fact that they’re a company who are in the business of pleasing shareholders (more on this, later).
Also, and far more straight-forward, Google has to obey the law. Just like any other company wishing to set up in any country, the local laws have to be obeyed, regardless of what they might be, and regardless of how wildly they might differ from your own country's laws. This, I believe, is why Google agreed to censor. They've been better behaved than Microsoft and Yahoo, too - the latter of which provided information to the Chinese authorities that resulted in a Chinese netizen being incarcerated.

Every left-wing, chattering article projects the idea that all Chinese people want to do, day in and day out, on the internet, is search for censored material. As if they have no other possible needs for a search engine. This is absurd! If a Chinese netizen really wanted to access this forbidden knowledge, they’d be able to find a way around the firewall – as they have been for years. Google.com is still accessible in China. Google.cn merely provides faster access to day-to-day information, very similar to the usual stuff we in the West search for every day (services, retail, entertainment of varying natures, and so forth).

Google have been giving off mixed signals, though. One minute, they’re allowing a foreign government to censor information, but the next minute they’re refusing to help their own government (more on that here). It’s not difficult to see how some people will think that Google are fudging their own motto to suit their monetary wants.

So, I think I’m one of the few people who actually supports Google on this issue.

As for the drubbing Google has received from Wall Street… well, what’s going on there? They’re posting 80%+ profits, and still their share price drops! 80%! That’s so far above the average that it’s insane to consider this a sign of the company underperforming.

Anyway, enough of this.

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