Friday, January 27, 2006

Google in China

Little Green Footballs takes an interesting look at Google's "modified" search engine in China. Time to dust off 1984 and re-read it, I guess.

In their successful drive to enter the Chinese market, Google at best showed they are a corporation like any other, driven to increase the bottom line for shareholders; at worst, the company violated its own stated credo, "Don't Be Evil".

It made me think about the relative versus absolute value of information, and freedom.

Chinese computer users with access to Google no doubt have an effective search engine to instantly access an exponentially large amount of information. But as the search demonstrated on LGF indicates, they don't have total access to the truth. If the Chinese government deems that something is worth keeping from the masses, they will not find the truth of the matter on Google. So, the next time there is a rural uprising, or worse, a toxic spill of chemicals threatening a city or town, and the government wants it kept quiet, no doubt Google will comply. A lie by omission is still a lie.

I wonder how the brilliant software engineers, who revolutionized the free exchange of information and ideas when they designed the Google search engine, feel about Google in China. Instead of advancing the freedom of information, their tool has become an an authoritarian regime's apparatchik.

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