Maybe just a little evil in exchange for all the good we do....

Summary:Google has compromised with the Chinese government, cutting off some sites and information from Chinese users, to gain broader access to that market. So much for its high standards of liberty....

After receiving the plaudits of civil libertarians and search enthusiasts over its refusal to turn over user search results to the U.S. Department of Justice last week, Google has agreed to censor its results in China in a bid to win greater market share in that totalitarian country.

And to avoid the embarrassment of having to turn over user data to the Chinese government, We are sliding down a slippery slope to a place where civil liberties are protected only when it's profitableGoogle will not offer GMail and Blogger to Chinese users. I wonder if, had Google faced the same prospect for government entanglement, it would have chosen to offer those services in the United States.

As I wrote the other day, if Google and its competitors are going to stand up for freedom, it has to be everywhere on the planet or we all—Internet users and American citizens—are already sliding down a slippery slope to a place where civil liberties are protected only when it's profitable. 

According to the BBC:

Leading internet search company Google has agreed to censor some of its services in China in order to satisfy Beijing's restrictions on free speech.

Google hopes the new web address for China will boost its access to one of the world's largest internet markets.

The company says the decision to censor content was hard, but says it has more influence if it is present in China.

Just a note, but at this writing, Google's DOJ confrontation is at the top of Google News with 158 links. There's no mention of the China compromise, even though Google News yields 190 hits on the story.

Do no evil or, at least, don't talk about it so much. The problem, though, isn't that Google is evil, it's that it is just a company and not the champion of freedom folks want to imagine it is.

UPDATE: One of my favorite blogs, Baseball Musings, has removed Google ads from its site because of the China censorship.

Topics: Google

About

Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran journalist, media executive and entrepreneur. He was editor of the ground-breaking Digital Media newsletter in the 1990s and a frequent contributor to ZDNet over the years. He led development of the first Web audio/video news network at ON24, sat on the board of Electric Classifieds Inc. and Match.com, and wor... Full Bio

Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.