Google has become, more than anything else, a way of life for Americans. In a world where “Google-ing” has become synonymous with our nation’s right to know, the company is restricting freedom of information abroad.
The computer search engine made waves twice in the last two weeks, once for defending the privacy rights of its users in the United States, and for agreeing to censor itself, and its users in China.
Google introduced a China-based version of its search engine, Google.cn, under the government condition that it censor certain search terms, including “democracy” and the “Dalai Lama.”
The search engine promised that it will inform Chinese users when their searches are being censored, something no other service provides.
This is not the first time the Chinese government has limited search engines in the country. Last year, Microsoft received harsh criticism for launching an MSN portal that censored blogs that used words such as “freedom” in the name.
A week after its initial decision, Google also announced its intention to fight a U.S. government subpoena in federal court requesting its search records. Google said it will “vigorously” defend the rights of its American users against the government.
Google, the epitome of capitalism, should not have allowed the Chinese government to regulate what information its users are able to access.
By doing this, it is legitimizing an oppressive communist regime, and putting profit ahead of the company philosophy, “Don’t be evil.”
Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, defended both his company and Google by saying that his personal opinions about democracy and communism should not affect the business that he is in.
Although as a nation we are a free-market society, our major corporations still have a responsibility to maintain their integrity, and preserve democracy, regardless of the cost to its shares.
According to Forbes magazine, Google’s decision to open a market in China will likely increase share prices. The Google search engine will have to compete with China’s No. 1 search engine, Baidu.com.
While it is admirable that Google has decided to defend the privacy rights of its users in the United States, by complying with the Chinese government’s strict demands on searches, it is compromising the global market values that have made it the world’s largest search engine.
The company could not have risen to prominence without the open market that American corporations take for granted. Now, to supplant the bottom line, the company has deferred to the world’s largest totalitarian nation.