When most people think of Google, they think of an intellectual utopia where innovation, creativity and a diversity of ideas are celebrated. I think that's true, as long as it's okay with the government whose market they hope to make money from. In the difficult fight of profits versus ethics, it seems that Google is choosing the side of profits. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is working tirelessly to make sure all pornography is blocked via its Chinese website, so to comply with government demands. Will Google's willingness to censor websites will stop there?
From the WSJ:
Google was admonished late Thursday for the third time this year by a government-backed Internet regulator for "disseminating large amounts of pornographic and vulgar information."
"We are undertaking a thorough review of our service and taking all necessary steps to fix any problems with our results," the company said in a statement. "This has been a substantial engineering effort, and we believe we have addressed the large majority of the problem results."
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that pornography is China's key to freedom and prosperity. I mean, I hope not. But this situation raises the question of what other content Google is willing to censor.
My guess would be that there is plenty of philosophical literature on the internet that the Chinese government may deem dangerous or harmful to its stability. As the article explains, it already attempts to block "sensitive political content" through what many refer to as their "Great Firewall."
If the Chinese government asked them to do so, would Google be willing to block its search engine results for the online writings of, say, Austrian school economist Friedrich Hayek? I can't help but wonder if Google is willing to assist in such censorship in order to gain a foothold in a Chinese market with enormous potential. Working to debilitate freedom of information certainly seems to go against the very principles that resulted in Google's success in the first place.