Friday, March 05, 2010

Google "confident" but still censoring

Thank you to Shane McGlaun’s blog at Daily Tech for this immortal piece of reporting, dated March 5.

Google Confident in Decision to Stop Censoring Search Results in China

I love the contrast between the bold, freedom-friendly title and the behind-covering subtitle:

Google has no firm date set for censorship to end

I'm confident I'm going to lose 20 pounds--but I haven't set a firm date yet.

Google's expression of tender regard for the fate of its 800 or so employees--as opposed to the future of Google’s brand equity and profits in a market of 1.6 billion people—as the reason for continuing the censorship of search results also softened China Hand’s lips, usually frozen in a cynical O, into a fond smile.

Per McGlaun:

PC Magazine reports that Google has no firm timeframe for eliminating the censorship of its search results in China. Google's Nicole Wong, VP, and general counsel for the search firm said that Google's big concern is its employees in China.

Wong said, "We have many employees in the ground, some of whom are very dear colleagues of mine and so we recognize both the seriousness and both the sensitivity of the decision we're making and we want to figure out a way to get to that end … in a way that's appropriate and responsible. It's a very human issue for us."

Google doesn't come out and say it, but the feeling is that the search firm fears its Chinese employees might be held accountable if the search engine stopped the government mandated censorship of search results.

Google was the only tech firm invited to testify before a Senate subcommittee this week who agreed to testify. Wong testified in front of the subcommittee saying, "We are firm in our decision that we will not censor our search results in China and we are working toward that end."

Wang’s remarks dovetail nicely with this January 18 headline from the Guardian:

Google investigates China Staff over cyber attack

And a report from TechCrunch on Jan. 14 that told us:

…the IM conversation that we were forwarded reveals that Google China workers no longer have access to company systems.

The fact that Google employees are seemingly unable to log onto internal systems could be a result of the internal security tests and scans, but Google has apparently also asked China employees to ‘relax at home’ for an unspecified time.

Somewhere, Google CEO Eric Schmidt is writhing.

Don't be evil, guys! At least not while everybody’s looking.

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