Thursday, January 14, 2010

Will Google Move Out of the People’s Republic of China?

Famous for its company slogan “We don’t do evil”, will the Internet portal / search engine giant Google move out of the People’s Republic of China because doing business there just got too “Orwellian”?

By: Ringo Bones

Maybe the coordinated cyber-attacks by homegrown mercenary hackers hired by top Beijing communist party functionaries to disrupt its day to day online operations might have been easily shrugged off. But the overtly Orwellian snooping of top human rights activists’ G-mail accounts did prove the last straw that got the Internet portal / search engine giant Google to consider ending their corporate operations in the People’s Republic of China. Given that Mainland China is now the world’s largest and fastest growing Internet market, would Google eventually ending their corporate operations there due to the Beijing government's individual privacy rights violations that can make your typical ACLU lawyer squirm?

Criticized for betraying the idealism first put forth by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the materialistic and power mad excesses of Beijing’s communist party functionaries has fueled a growing culture of political dissention since the brutal suppression of the Tiananmen Square protest rally back in June 4, 1989. With the Internet becoming a runaway global phenomenon for over a decade now, human rights activists in the People’s Republic of China were one of the first ones to reach out to the world and tell everyone. Especially the truth about the socialist idyll that the Beijing communist party functionaries portray their country to be is nothing more than a big fat propaganda. Given Google’s worldwide reach – especially in the socially conscious and principled societies of America and Western Europe – its no mystery that the Beijing government got Orwellian on the Internet portal’s online infrastructure. But will Google continue to keep their decade or so old reputation as an exemplar of ethical business governance by simply looking the other way as its online infrastructure in the People’s Republic of China is used to suppress the civil liberties of the general population?

Cyber attacks or not, everyone’s growing consciousness over corporate social responsibility was probably the main driving force behind Google’s decision to ditch the potentially profitable online business of Mainland China. With increasing censorship by the Beijing government over the search engine company’s operation and state sponsored snooping of the G-mail accounts of prominent human rights activists. It is probably prudent for Google to consider ending their corporate operations in the People’s Republic of China even if homegrown Internet portal rival Baidu think that its hypocritical for Google to do so. After all, the idealism of the Haight-Ashbury Flower Power Revolution of the late 1960s is still fresh in the minds of Google’s founders and bondholders. Google should set an example in the corporate world that principles are more important than profits.


VaneSSa said...

As the current exemplar of business ethics, Google is now very weary allowing the company to be drawn into another Jerry Yang / Yahoo! like debacle that resulted in the 10-year imprisonment of the Chinese journalist Shi Tao a few years ago. Was Jerry Yang's family taken hostage like some typical episode of 24 that allowed him to divulge private data of their e-mail clients? I think not. Sometimes I wonder if current Beijing communist party functionaries had ever watched Sergei M. Eisenstein's Potemkin or Ten Days That Shook the World. Marx and Engels never set out their public servants to be Orwellian when it comes to repression of civil liberties. Life must be hell now for owners of Free Tibet and Uyghur Legal Defense Fund websites waiting for those nasty Directed Denial of Service cyber-attacks - i.e. botnets. Google should do everything it can not to become some sort of herald of the Beijing Government's imperial ambitions.

Sherry Rashad said...

I think the great motion picture director Sergei Eisenstein could see a "cognitive dissonance" being Google - a capitalist corporate entity - turning out to be the more ethical and moral party in comparison to the People's Republic of China's communist party functionaries. Given that the US government can't lift a finger to criticize the People's Republic of China's "dubious" human rights record because Chinese bondholders form a significant portion of its 12 trillion dollar deficit. So don't be alarmed if President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton had been recently "quiet over the Tibet and Uyghur issue.

Je M'Apelle Ja'Nelle said...

Ai Weiwei's e-mail account is probably the most eavesdropped e-mail account in Mainland China these days. Google did bent over backwards when the company went along with the Beijing government's behest to "filter" their search engine operating on the mainland. But Google can only bend backwards so far when it comes to directed denial of service attacks and e-mail / G-mail eavesdropping by the Beijing government's secret police apparatus on leading human rights activists. Even the US Government seems to have forgotten the awkwardness of Chinese bondholders forming the bulk of their 12 trillion dollar debt when they finally filed a formal protest to the Beijing government's communist party functionaries. Looks like the Beastie Boys won't be touring the People's Republic of China this year for the benefit of the Jetsun Milarepa Fund.

Sans Ferdinand said...

I've always viewed since the latter half of the 1990s that Google and other Internet Search Engine companies are the corporate world's equivalent of an unmanned drone / UAV where every government in the world is unlikely to even care whether these firms succeed or not. (Un)Fortunately, Google and their ilk managed to gain political clout due to their runaway commercial success during the past few years. Even the new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are now taking the side of Google over the recent cyber-attacks by Beijing government hired mercenary hackers. Looks like Philip Glass and Patti Smith won't be doing their Tibet House musical extravaganza in Beijing anytime soon.

May Anne said...

I never thought I'll live to see the day when a corporate entity - like Google - will become a tool by the United States to launch a proxy war of attrition against an agressor - namely the People's Republic of China. Back in the days immediately after the 9 / 11 attacks, everyone had always thought that Al Qaeda or the Taliban will be the one doing cyber-attacks against the US Government's Internet infrastructure. Surprisingly, it came unexpectedly from the Chinese mainland. The question now is, will Google - a corporate entity - ever become an integral part of the US Department of Defence? Like some value-for-money version or counterpart of the US Air Force.

Yvette said...

I've just heard over the BBC that many privacy rights advocates in the United States has been calling for a clarification over Google's alleged "collaboration" with the United States National Security Agency. If this is true, then the Internet could well become the 21st Century's new battlefront - both economically and politically. Maybe His Holiness The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet should be given a tour in Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California just to show the People's Republic of China who's boss.