As several media mentioned throughout the last days, Google wants to run a non-filtered version of its google.cn search engine. Caused is this change of behavior by recent attacks directed at Google accounts of human rights activists. These attacks originated in China, Google said without accusing the Chinese government. What a mess!
Referring to my master diss, China and Google have always had a very complicated relationship. Before this incident, Google run a Chinese version of its search engine with servers located within the borders of China and therefore adapting Chinese filtering policies. However, Google did not offer blogging and Gmail services on its Chinese version because it feared demands about human rights activists’ accounts – probably that is why some Chinese officials decided to just attack Google.cn if they do not want to offer these services and therefore collect important data about bad people.
Anyway, if something has be censored and as such blurred out of the Google.cn search results there has been a link to the cache of the US version google.com which displayed most of the otherwise censored results. A fraud against Chinese integrity! I do not think so. The problem was, and that was why Google created google.cn, that China sometimes advised its Great Firewall of China to block or slow down access to google.com. Thus, the people inside China decide to use the Chinese search engine baidu instead – what Google did not like at all. Subsequently, Google.com will be an URL appearing more often on herdict than before.
Have a look at the herdict website. This project is really worth supporting it. They have just announced two new language options.
China is an important and growing market (what a sentence… too much mentioned in the last years) and as such Google has not so many choices. Opting out is not a very good one concerning the market share but it is at least one which supports and strengthens Google’s past ethical codex ‘Don’t be Evil!’ The fact that Google would not have much to lose anymore could lead to approaches such as trying to avoid being blocked by the GFW of China.
What about more secure accounts? Well, I know that there is a long lasting discussion about encryption and decryption as well as about hacking and security – and most of the times hacking and decryption wins. Having said that, for the market share of Google it would probably be far better to stay in China but secure the accounts better in order to oppose cyber attacks against their databases.
Personally, I would favor the first option. If Google does leave the Chinese market due to this incident I might have been too skeptical about Google all the years. Google as advocate of free speech and flow of information sounds really nice – and I do not mean the information Google collects about you (all the fancy stuff you can do and save online) and your browsing behavior. Ew, there it is again.. skepticism. Good luck Google!