Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google Admits Compromising Principles in China

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the sorry-about-that dept.

459

muellerr1 writes "Google co-founder Sergey Brin admitted that it had adopted 'a set of rules that we weren't comfortable with' in their Chinese activities. Though it doesn't yet sound like they're admitting to actually doing evil, it does appear that they are thinking about pulling out of China rather than compromise their 'do no evil' motto."

cancel ×

459 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Pulling out? (0, Troll)

Rendo (918276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487156)

I always thought China liked to be on top.

It all makes sense (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487170)

If Google is not evil and China is, then it's just logical that they'd pull out. We wouldn't want a rift in the space-time continuum now, would we?

Good for Brin! (4, Interesting)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487171)

The China censorship issue was a very difficult decision and, no matter how you look at it, they chose the less moral option... If they truly follow up and reverse their policy on China I will have to cease my usual cynicism and admit that Google may truly be a _moral_ company!

Go Brin! Go Google!

Re:Good for Brin! (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487202)

He made these comments many many months after people started talking about this, and it's probable he only did it now because the criticism was getting to a point where it was beginning to affect their other business. If they really felt it was so wrong for them to do it, they either would have pulled the plug much earlier or not gone in to China under those conditions in the first place.

If they pull out of China, it will be for business reasons, not moral ones. Sure, they get to act like they're doing it so they won't be "evil," but they'll really be doing it because they're afraid the bad publicity the China issue has been generating and will continue to generate will drag down their numbers in other areas.

Re:Good for Brin! (5, Insightful)

DeusExMalex (776652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487317)

And yet even if they pull out of China for purly business reasons they wouldn't be doing evil. (Unless you consider successfully running a business to be evil.) "Don't be evil" != "Be good"

Re:Good for Brin! (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487426)

You can do good things and look out for business interests at the same time. You just need to ensure you don't follow business interests that compromise your principles. In fact, this is what Google claim they do, and it seems they do take it seriously, if they pull out of China.

Re:Good for Brin! (5, Insightful)

EMeta (860558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487407)

Actually, no. Pulling out of a country who will have more internet users than America and Europe combined in the next 10-15 years is not good for any internet business. There is no amount of publicity enhancement that could cover this change, especially since there are no other large internet companies who are competing with Google for the least evil award.

Taking a moral path is not about always being right. It is about always striving to be right & taking the care to reevaluate situations based on the current and future situations. I'm just glad there are still companies who know the M word.

Re:Good for Brin! (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487430)

Google may have to look at whether having more internet users that don't have the same disposable income to buy their advertisers' products is worth alienating a smaller user base known to have the spare cash to buy their advertisers' products. Their advertisers will be watching.

Re:Good for Brin! (3, Insightful)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487414)

If he's doing it for business reasons, then you probably have a very high opinion of capitalism. However, if it's indeed business reasons, one would have to wonder why Microsoft, Yahoo, et al have not been pulling out too.

Re:Good for Brin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487429)

Skepticism is easier than truly understanding the issue or the person. Find out the real reason rather than first pointing a finger.

Re:Good for Brin! (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487253)

I second this. If a company can actually admit "hey, we were wrong here" and take action to correct the problem, I will definitely be a lot more inclined to think they might actually be human.

Re:Good for Brin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487254)

What's less moral? If they pull out, the Chinese citizens don't magically get the information, it's still censored. And pulling out would mean a) not taking money from Chinese customers for advertising to Chinese people and putting it into American hands, which makes China as a whole slightly richer, and b) leaving other companies in China, such as Yahoo, in a better position. Such companies might not act as ethically as Google, even once you take Chinese law into consideration.

I don't see how Google pulling out of China can possibly benefit anybody from a moral point of view. This seems more like "keep away from the stinky Chinese because we don't like them" than any kind of moral argument.

Re:Good for Brin! (5, Interesting)

phillywize (980138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487281)

Whatever the equities of Google's deal-with-the-devil agreement with the Chinese government, it speaks well of Google that they're even copping to the problem with knuckling under to censorship. Things obviously aren't as bad as they could be; things would be much worse if Brin were maintaining that what they did in China was the greatest thing ever. A company willing to question its politically controversial decisions publicly is probably not irretrievably evil. Whether it's moral is another question.

Re:Good for Brin! (2, Insightful)

Darby (84953) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487379)

Things obviously aren't as bad as they could be; things would be much worse if Brin were maintaining that what they did in China was the greatest thing ever. A company willing to question its politically controversial decisions publicly is probably not irretrievably evil. Whether it's moral is another question.

However, as long as there are companies who don't care (Microsoft, Yahoo etc.) it really doesn't matter all that much. In general morality is punished by the market. That's why Capitalism is an inherently amoral system. All it takes is one company to take a sleazy path and then that's the way they all go along with or go out of business. That's all assuming, of course, that there isn't some huge movement on the part of the American people leading to restrictive legislation.

Re:Good for Brin! (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487361)

The more useful observation is that the economic advantages for doing business with China are so significant that even a company that has often put morality above economics in the US, can't help but compromise its morality. We already know that almost every other large corporation compromises it's american employees and consumers to do business with them.

A difficult decision? (1)

Otis2222222 (581406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487443)

The China censorship issue was a very difficult decision

I'm going to assume that you meant "the decision for Google to censor in the first place". Sorry, but I disagree here. Google had a golden opportunity that they, in my opinion, wasted. Here's a large, cutting edge company that has the respect of the internet community and is seen by many as a role model in the corporate world.

If Google's leaders had stated firmly, openly, and loudly that they would never condone censorship of any kind, especially as it pertained to delivering services in China, they not only would have earned the respect of many but would have been essentially in a position to shame any company that didn't follow their lead. It would have given them moral high ground to accuse other companies (e.g. Yahoo) of kowtowing to the will of a government that condones what we view as an oppresive policies; namely censorship and imprisonment of those that disagree with the government.

The fact that google compromised their principles and defied their own mission statement has burned a lot of goodwill that may never be recovered. Good for them that they are considering changing thier policies. I hope they do.

Re:Good for Brin! (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487499)

no matter how you look at it, they chose the less moral option
How?
As long as they are not like Yahoo and gives out sensitive data about dissenters, how can it be considered less moral option?
World is not black and white, and many a times, adapting to the different enviornments without surrendering the core values, might be always a _more_ moral option.

Not even going into China would have just decreased the information that the people there would be getting.
Not everybody is interested in political, and thereby sensitive, information.
There are other subjects like art/science etc in which google is mostly the first reference point.

Re:Good for Brin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487518)

I have to disagree. Is providing a crippled service worse than providing no service at all? This is all that occurred. They were faced with a situation where unless they crippled their service, no one was going to be allowed to access it. Does it somehow benefit the people of China to have overwhelming censorship vs. specific censorship?
I think it should be clear that a government enforced censorship policy is always going to be less effective than a total blackout of information, because it will always miss something.

I think that perhaps the big issue was the precedent set by Google crippling their service. Fortunately, it seems like they may have realized this, and are considering backing out.

Google did no evil (1, Interesting)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487172)

it is questionable whether Google could afford to turn its back on China's explosive economy

You know that if you were running Google, you wouldn't have turned your back to China. Google did no evil here.

I disagree (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487206)

You know that if you were running Google, you wouldn't have turned your back to China. Google did no evil here.

It sounds like you're saying that since greed is universal, it's acceptable to help an oppressive regime in the name of profit.

I know I'm going from zero to Godwin in only ten seconds, but the Nazis were just doing their jobs, too. Obviously there is a huge difference between filtering search results and gassing people and putting them in mass graves, but the logic doesn't improve any as the severity decreases.

Logic needs to account for severity (1)

BeardsmoreA (951706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487360)

Surely there's a point where it does - anything we do in our lives has a downside which you could consider 'evil' if you take it to the extreme (Easy examples, Drive to work? Destroying the environment! Eat a burger - Animal Murderer! Blow your nose - Bactericide!)

There has to be a point where the good you're doing outweighs the bad, and you're actions are no longer 'evil' - maybe like running a succesful, pro libertarian company and providing access to a lot information by making some concessions to a government you wouldn't by choice be on best terms with. I'm not saying that they got the balance right to avoid the 'evil' tag, just that there has to be a tipping point on any decison.

Re:Google did no evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487221)

If I was running Google, I would be charging the Chinese government huge sums of money in order to track down people breaking Chinese laws (before the Chinese government even knows they're doing so). In other words, I would make Google into the for profit Big Brother of China.

Re:Google did no evil (1)

Strider817 (952386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487223)

Though it doesn't yet sound like they're admitting to actually doing evil, it does appear that they are thinking about pulling out of China rather than compromise their 'do no evil' motto.

While I do not find Google's censorship commendable, I also don't think of it as evil.

Google is providing service to a country who's customs and laws are different then our own, and although they may have to remove some of the more apparent blunders of communist China, they still provide easy access to other information. I think that it is good that the people of China are at least getting something from Google, even if it is the "Communist Safe" search.

Re:Google did no evil (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487232)

That really does depend on how you look at it. Either way, they would have been seen to 'do evil'.

A) Comply with the Chinese government. You are supporting their 'evil' ways.

B) Refuse to comply and (evilly) deprive every Chinese citizen of what is arguably the world's best search engine, not to mention all their other projects that are doing quite well.

It's a no-win situation. I personally feel the chose the 'more evil' way, though. Make it VERY clear that Google doesn't want to abandon China and lay out your terms clearly. Then pull out if the terms aren't met. People will still hate you, and call you a 'cyber terrorist' or whatever, but you'll have done the best you can to fight for their freedoms.

I suppose you could try ignoring them as a third option, but it would have ended up like B.

Re:Google did no evil (4, Insightful)

Churla (936633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487278)

No, there is this third option.

C) Don't bow to the Chinese government, they will not allow the site. They are the ones denying the Chinese people access to Google, not Google. Which means Google is doing no evil, but the Chinese government is.

You can't sugarcoat "Agree to censor" enough to make it not evil, sorry.

Re:Google did no evil (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487282)

I suppose you could try ignoring them as a third option, but it would have ended up like B.

It would be kind of like B, but with a bunch of people you hired in China being locked up :(.

Re:Google did no evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487287)

Either way... A)...B)...It's a no-win situation

You oversimplify. Google's big enough that it has more options than A or B.

  • They can lobby within China to get the evil laws changed.
  • They can lobby the US to pressure China to get the evil laws changed.
  • They can lobby the US to pass laws against their competitors (making it illegal for domestic ones and tarrifs on foreign ones) taking advantage of the evil laws.
It'll be interesting to see how they play this one out. I think their entire reputation/brand representing trust is at stake here; and how they handle this and similar situations will make or break their company.

For those concerned about the lost revenue from China and shareholder suits, I'd point out that losing the trust people have in their brand will cost them everything, while loss of China will only lose them a fraction of the market.

Re:Google did no evil (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487365)

B) Refuse to comply and (evilly) deprive every Chinese citizen of what is arguably the world's best search engine, not to mention all their other projects that are doing quite well.

Yes but if you're providing the Chinese citizen with a dumbed down (censored) version of Google then you're not really providing them of the world's best search engine in the first place are you? Google is a great search engine because of both the search algorithm as well as the vast amount of content that it has indexed. You need both to have a great search engine and the Chinese goverment will not allow you to provide both.

I don't have a problem with a company choosing to censor content at the request of the Chinese goverment. I do have a problem with a company that chooses to do so when their motto is "do no evil". It's completely hypocritical and Google should be called on it.

Re:Google did no evil (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487421)

Refuse to comply and (evilly) deprive every Chinese citizen of what is arguably the world's best search engine
It's only the world's best search engine when the results are basically uncensored. If you censor google to the extent that you can't look up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights anymore, it ceases to be the world's best search engine, and becomes just another tool of oppression.

Re:Google did no evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487296)

China' "explosive" economy is on course to do just that: blow up. The last several years they have been trying to have their cake and eat it too by allowing just a little bit of economic freedom, while still trying to hold the old Communist party line. The problem is that once the public tastes freedom, they want more. China's government used to be able to quash any dissent in the press or the countryside; now, we have Chinese journalists writing stories about corruption and dangerous practices and villages rioting when the state-run mining operation dumps toxins in the local watersupply. We just don't hear about it as much in the West because of western companies and people taking just the kind of stance that Google has.

One day, China will have to either really open up true and full economic freedom for everyone, both urban and rural, or else the Communist government will have to find a new home. Humanity yearns to be free. We've seen it happen many times in the past. Helping to prop up the failing dictator-state isn't going to bode well for selling to the public when they are finally free.

No, it was evil. (2, Interesting)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487305)

When Google entered China, they agreed to censor their search engine. Perhaps that could be an acceptable thing to do if they were asked to censor child pornography sites, but it really does depend on what they are being asked to censor.

The Chinese government was asking them to cover up a government massacre of hundreds, possibly thousands, of people. To do such a thing is extremely disrespectful to those that were killed in this massacre.

Google claim that they want to give people the information they're looking for, but in China, they're withholding the truth about what happened on June 4, 1989. Hundreds of innocent people murdered. You can't assist in the cover-up of something like that and claim that your integrity hasn't been compromised.

Why now? (4, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487188)

Speaking in Washington, Sergey Brin, Google's billionaire co-founder, said the company, which operates under the motto "do no evil", had adopted "a set of rules that we weren't comfortable with".

In a hint that Google could adjust its stance in China in the future, he added: "Perhaps now [emphasis mine] the principled approach makes more sense."

So what took you so long Sergey? Why now? Why couldn't you see this was a bad idea from the start? Talk about coming to the party late!

Just how much back-pedalling Google does now should be interesting, as this is no doubt going to cause revenue problems in the long run and a bit of a publicity flap in the short run, though if Google decides to finally stand on its principles and other companies like Microsoft and Yahoo don't follow along, it should regain a lot of standing in many people's eyes. Well, except for the Chinese government's anyway...

Re:Why now? (1)

BenBenBen (249969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487252)

In a hint that Google could adjust its stance in China in the future, he added: "Perhaps now [emphasis mine] the principled approach makes more sense."
I'm disappointed that even the Great Google himself can't actually speak in bold.

Re:Why now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487342)

So what took you so long Sergey? Why now? Why couldn't you see this was a bad idea from the start? Talk about coming to the party late!


Come back to earth before posting stuff like this. We aren't talking about one person who can just realise that something goes wrong and change it at a whim.

It is extremely hard to predict how a company (even one with principles) will evolve and it takes a great deal ammount of time for executives to gather feedback about their choice of direction. It just happens that google is wading through some mud at the moment, and the feedback has reached the executive level, you ask why now? Simply because this is the ammount of time it takes.

We can only hope that Google hasn't gathered too much momentum in a wrong direction that it cannot navigate a safer course.

Re:Why now? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487406)

So what took you so long Sergey? Why now? Why couldn't you see this was a bad idea from the start? Talk about coming to the party late!
Maybe because it looked like a really good business opportunity back then, and doesn't look so hot right about now? I think perhaps they underestimated the American public's (and more importantly, Congress') interest in the activities of our technology companies in being the enablers of oppression overseas.

You don't just wake up one morning and decide ``hey, remember when we decided to cooperate with an oppressive government overseas? That was really wrong, really fundamentally wrong. Wow, what was I thinking?'' If you actually had any morals, you would have realized that in the first place.

This smells of them realizing after the fact that they made a miscalculation, and now spinning it to look like their consciences came back from wintering in Bali and gave them a wake-up call. It's a nice PR move: they get to look like the moral darlings of the industry, and distance themselves from Yahoo/Microsoft/Cisco/etc., while probably retaining some stake in their former operations in China (run by a native company there, but under a different name).

This is just basic PR and spin-doctoring. They have people that do this for a living: Google apparently just has some very good ones.

People talk about Steve Jobs and Apple having a reality distortion field, but it's nothing compared to Google's. If this were any other company, people would be snorting their coffee all over their keyboards. But because it's Brin and Google, suddenly it becomes deadly serious. It shouldn't be: Google has as much moral authority as any other huge technology corporation, which is to say absolutely none. Whatever they're doing, it's because they think it'll be good for business over time. Maybe what's good for them right now corresponds to what you think of as `good' and `moral.' Congrats -- but don't think that if those two paths diverge, that they'll stay on the `good' one. People like moral corporations, but they like profitable ones better. `Good' and `profitable' are a marriage of convenience at best, and random coincidence at worst.

Re:Why now? (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487500)

if Google decides to finally stand on its principles and other companies like Microsoft and Yahoo don't follow along, it should regain a lot of standing in many people's eyes.

Neither Microsoft or Yahoo have absurd company mottos legally binding them to moral behavior.

It's called being human (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487190)

Even the slashdot editors have compromised too.

From their FAQ: [slashdot.org] I thought everyone on Slashdot hated the RIAA, the MPAA, and Microsoft. Why do you keep hyping CDs, movies, and Windows games?

Big corporations are what they are. They sell us cool stuff with one hand and tighten the screws on our freedoms with the other. We hate them every morning and love them every afternoon, and vice versa. This is part of living in the modern world: you take your yin with your yang and try to figure out how to do what's right the best you can. If you think it has to be all one way or the other, that's cool, share your opinions, but don't expect everyone else to think the same.

Nobody is perfect, not even Google.

Re:It's called being human (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487207)

Good, so lets just sit back and take it. That is what they want, after all.

will others follow suit? (5, Interesting)

binarstu (720435) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487193)

I certainly hope that other companies, particularly Yahoo, which has been implicated in providing information [amnesty.org] to Chinese authorities leading to the arrest of political dissidents, will feel pressured by Google's recent announcement to be more candid about their own policies regarding operations in China. If our big Internet players were to stand up for what is right, it'd be a powerful statement for human rights.

Hmmm (2, Insightful)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487195)

Following a countries laws is evil? To hell with paying taxes then!!!

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487227)

LOL, I bet you have no compunctions with going to other countries and screwing 12 year olds there because they're "legal".

Law and morality have nothing to do with each other.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487325)

"Law and morality have nothing to do with each other."
Damn right.

Re:Hmmm (1)

cafucu (918264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487387)

Helping a country opress its citizens is evil, even if the country says it's the law. Some countries allow husbands to mutilate and abuse their wives--but it's legal, so why don't you go give them a hand?

Re:Hmmm (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487388)

Doing what a totalitarian regime tells you, and allowing your desire for money to compromise your principles, is absolutely immoral.

Re:Hmmm (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487416)

Following a countries laws is evil?

Depends on the law in question. There was a time when it was illegal to hide a runaway slave in the United States, for example.

-jcr

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487485)

Do you make the same excuse for all those mega-corps that supported Hitler's regime? They were, after all, just following the laws of the land (like IBM making those counting machines for the slave camps).

HURRY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487197)

Quick Google, pull out before China has your baby!!!

they lose my trust (2, Insightful)

xlyz (695304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487198)

I understand that chinese market is tempting, but any company that I shall trust with so many information on me shall not be ready to compromise with any govern / administraion / authority. They'll gain China, but they'll loose me.

Read the article. (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487377)

This is them pulling out of China, not going into it! I agree that they shouldn't have entered China in the first place, but at least they are admitting their mistake. I'm impressed by a company that can admit it is doing something morally wrong, but take steps to correct themselves despite the fact that they will lose billions of dollars by doing so.

Now they just need to admit that DRM on Google Video is evil, too, and they're back in my good books!

Re:Read the article. (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487474)

They've been in China for a while. And TFA notes that the non-censored version of Google gets way more traffic than Google.cn anyway, so there's really no loss for them if they suddenly "take the moral stand" and stop doing a censored version.

Yeah, right. (3, Insightful)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487201)

It's easy to admit you did something bad after the first few large paychecks for compromising your beliefs. I'm sure that pile of cash will soothe their guilt over the decision.

Shareholders? (4, Insightful)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487204)

How will the shareholders feel if they pull out of China? Would that be acting in the shareholders' best interests? I'm not sure if ignoring a possible 1.3 billion people would be the best for them in the long run.

Re:Shareholders? (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487473)

Would that be acting in the shareholders' best interests?

Unbelievably, the choice between "Do Evil" and "Do no Evil" is irrelevant as Google is obliged by law to follow the shareholders interests above everything else.

Sad, sad, sad state of affairs, where a company is required by law to do what many consider to be immoral.

In related news... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487210)

Googlasia went public today sporting a motto "Do As Little Evil As Possible". Stocks soared from the opening price.

It will be interesting to see how this holds against their primary competitor, Microsoft which has embraced the Chinese market. They do not stand to lose their image or their corporate motto of "Screw Everyone."

Re:In related news... (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487285)

Their corporate logo has the first 'O' replaced by the yin-yang symbol, representing the karmic balance between doing equal amounts of good and evil.

New Motto (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487213)

Do no Evil... Do compromises.

Cool (-1, Flamebait)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487217)

Can those of us who pointed this out at the time get or (-1 Troll) and (-1 Flamebait) moderations reversed please :)

What about US censorship? (5, Insightful)

Tojo-Mojo (707846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487229)

Google complies with the DMCA, which requires it censor certain search results (for example, "kazaalite" http://www.google.com/search?q=kazaalite [google.com] will display a notice at the bottom indicating search results were removed).

Admittedly, it doesn't go as far as China's censorship, but this is a slippery slope. Why is censorship there "evil", but censorship here is not? Google is complying with the law. Yes, I think it's a bad law. But since when is obeying the law evil? Why is it up to Google to crusade against government policy? Are they some kind of political super-hero?

Re:What about US censorship? (2)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487301)

The difference is that the DMCA does not prevent you from expressing an opinion. If I write something critical of a person, an organization, or the government, the DMCA cannot legally be used to silence me. It can definitely be used to harass people (calling up my web host and claiming I have infringing material), but provided I have not actually violated copyright, nothing can be done.

Contrast this with China, where you can get thrown in jail for having a non-compliant opinion.

Re:What about US censorship? (3, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487336)

Because following the law isn't the same as doing the Right Thing (tm), especially as the laws get more oppressive or totalitarian. Unless of course oppression or totalitarianism happen to be the Right Thing, which I don't presume.

Google does indirectly link to the removed website (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487354)

Google complies with the DMCA, which requires it censor certain search results (for example, "kazaalite" http://www.google.com/search?q=kazaalite [google.com] will display a notice at the bottom indicating search results were removed).

Yeah but google links to the complaint which is probably just as bad because it explicitly states which websites are removed. :) Jeez the website google links is a cournicopia of websites people think are either doing copyright infringement or selling warez.

Re:What about US censorship? (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487391)

Obeying evil laws (i.e being complicit with evil) is itself evil.

If someone in authority over you orders you to commit a murder, do you do it because you're following orders? What if that authority has the power to codify the order into something called "law"?

When is obeying the law evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487395)

When it's an evil law.

No, seriously. Obeying an evil law is an evil act. If Congress, in a drunken stupor, decided that it was now a law that you must kill your parents, obeying that law would be evil. You should fight it in court, and failing that, just refuse to comply. Requiring something by law does not make it right. It just means that there are real consequences to doing the right thing if the right thing doesn't agree with the law.

Re:What about US censorship? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487396)

In this particular example it was not effective, judging by superficial look at the results.

www.kazaalite.nl is still there.

Re:What about US censorship? (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487440)

But since when is obeying the law evil?

Since the first evil law was passed? That would be thousands of years ago.

Re:What about US censorship? (1)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487457)

Google is complying with the law. Yes, I think it's a bad law. But since when is obeying the law evil?

This might come as a surprise, but in a republic, *citizens get a say in determining what the laws are*.

In China, they don't.

Google's no-win situation around here. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487233)

If Google stay in China, people call them evil hypocrits, pandering to a brutal government. If Google leaves, people call them stubborn information whores. Either way, the people of China are the ones that lose. Between the two, I think that the "some censored iformation is better than no information". While they can't learn about tank boy, perhaps they can learn other useful information (encryption, bomb making, etc.)

As much as we like to make fun of America, at least we don't have to worry about [severe] state sanctioned censorship [yet].

Re:Google's no-win situation around here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487470)

As much as we like to make fun of America, at least we don't have to worry about [severe] state sanctioned censorship [yet].

Is that why 2600 are legally forbidden from linking to certain URLs? Is that why Google (USA) are legally forbidden from including certain things in their search results? Is that why Slashdot was forced to remove comments from their database? Is that why doctors are legally obliged to lie to their patients about increased cancer risk from abortions?

The USA is 44th in the world for freedom of the press according to Reporters Without Borders. They censor, it's just the censorship is motivated by religion and money instead of the desire to control.

Google employees in china (4, Insightful)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487236)

Google has employees in China. I can imagine how the treatment of these employees might be used to the advantage of the Chinese government if Google is weighing whether to pull out. It would be truly dirty for the government to threaten the welfare of former google employees in discussions with the management, and it would lead to quite an international conundrum. At the same time, it is possible. China isn't exactly known for protecting human rights. Thoughts?

Re:Google employees in china (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487315)

If the Chinese government were to threaten or cause harm upon employees of any corporation doing business there, be they current or former, it would seriously limit the desire for other countries to want to do business with them. I know my company does some business in China (we do business in other, less hospitable parts of the world, too), and I know that we'd have reservations sending our people into a line of fire.

I also wonder if it leaves the company open to some form of international litigation - having people assualted and injured or even killed because they work for a particular company. It would certainly get you shitcanned on THIS side of the globe.

I also wonder if such an act would be enough to get the United States military force involved in 'defending our interests'. I doubt we really want to take on.. luxembourg right now... let alone Chiner.

All eyes are on Google (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487238)

After making such statements, they have no choice but to pull out now.

Many companies are starting to follow Google's lead in many ways and on many things. If they say they are considering pulling out and then fail to do it, the disappointment in Google will be enormous. If Google lived and prospered everywhere EXCEPT China, that could only serve to make Google look good and China look bad.

  I feel pretty much the same about IP and DRM issues in the world where if the world refuses and legislates against IP and DRM leaving only the US with such restrictive laws, it will really make the US look bad and evil.

Ridiculous (2, Interesting)

simscitizen (696184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487392)

Did you RTFA? All he says is he can see why someone else would come to a different conclusion than they did. And it's not like Google pulling out is going to do a shit. You think making a search engine is something special? If Google pulls out, they'll just use some other censored search engine like Baidu. If eBay pulls out, they'll just use another online auction site. No matter what any corporation does, it won't have a damn effect on the grand scale in China. There is enough technical expertise there already to do anything an American company would--perhaps inferior, but none of these things (search engines, auction sites, portals, etc...) are rocket science. Pulling American corporations out of China (to be replaced by native corporations) would only lessen our fucking leverage in China. Think about it.

The middle class (the people in China that can actually USE the internet) there is growing and prosperous. By and large, they're damn happy with the ways things have gone since 1989. (If you don't believe so, I invite you to visit any modern Chinese city and look at its amazing rate of development.) If there's going to be any revolt, it'll probably be from the countryside...from the people who don't have internet access anyway.

Google (3, Insightful)

Blue6 (975702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487242)

Is a publicly traded company will see how big their balls are when the stock holders get involved.

Pulling out ??!? WOW ! (2, Funny)

unity100 (970058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487244)

This will be a first in this scale.

It might be so that we might need to ask vatican to bestow sainthood on google at this rate.

I have to admit im impressed.

Re:Pulling out ??!? WOW ! (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487322)

Woah there chief....

Praise them when/if they do the right thing. Not when/if they consider doing the right thing.

Else I will consider a devout life.
I will consider doing more charity work.
I will consider devoting all my financial resources to helping the poor and underprivlidged.

And then I will ask to be cannonized myself.. WHEE.. I'm a saint!

Actually I think over at http://www.ulc.org/ [ulc.org] you can buy/donate your way to sainthood, but that's another story.

Re:Pulling out ??!? WOW ! (2, Funny)

RyanXP (979906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487329)

Yeah, i'm shocked about this whole pulling out business. I mean we all know China isn't on the pill, but I would've thought that a company as responsible as Google would at least wear a condom.

WTF? (1)

Allah Lah Ow (956238) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487263)

The article doesn't say anything about google pulling out of China! They seem just concerned on justifying their actions in the past... DAMMIT! I knew I shouldn't RTFA...

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487383)

From TFA:
In a hint that Google could adjust its stance in China in the future, he added: "Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense."
...
However, it is questionable whether Google could afford to turn its back on China's explosive economy.
Obviously, the author of TFA believes Google might pull out of China--that the 'principled approach' involves doing things the Chinese government won't allow, hence scaling back operations in China.

Amazing. (4, Funny)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487298)

I've never in my life seen a corporate head admit wrongdoing so quickly without being forced to by a court. This is simply amazing.

In communist China (-1, Offtopic)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487309)

Evil be you.

Okay - I admit that wasn't very funny. (But feel free to mod me insightful! :))

net neutrality in tfa (0, Offtopic)

babanada (977344) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487310)

Mr Brin was in Washington to ask US senators to approve a plan that would safeguard "net neutrality" - the current online system which means all internet content is handled equally.

In meetings with Republican John McCain, a member of the Senate committee that oversees telecoms issues, he argued against a system that would allow telephone and cable companies to collect premium fees from companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! for faster delivery of their services

"The only way to have a fast lane that is useful - that people will pay a premium for - is if there are slow lanes," he said.

Is it just me, or is the last sentence an argument against net neutrality?

Re:net neutrality in tfa (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487512)

It's just you. He's arguing against net neutrality. The statement you quoted is a statement of fact, not of opinion. His opinion is that having "a fast lane that is useful" is not a good thing, because it will require that there are also "slow lanes".

Interesting... (2, Insightful)

Attis_The_Bunneh (960066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487313)

I think it's interesting that Google's execs had made this decision, but I think it may harm them in the long run because essentially China's market is going to grow without them. Opportunities lost and means to affect progress on a country that nearly imploded on itself in the 1950s and 1960s that probably would benefit the most. The more I look at our own country, the USA, the more I see that Google ought to leave it by comparison. I admit, The PRC as a governmental entity is a digusting little thing, but the US isn't really too different by comparison. The US has the PATRIOT act, The FCC, and federal statutes against porno, encryption, etc... So, is this really just a Coke/Pepsi challange of ethics? I think so for a one reason; both countries, in fact all the countries Google operates in, has devils for governments. Whether it's civil liberty violations or compromised property rights [one could argue property rights are civil rights of a kind...], most countries do evil, and Google still does work in them. I'm not asking for Google's exec to implode into some Socratic Apologie, but I do think Google's execs ought to review the premises they set their motto upon.

Do No Evil...How do they define it? To what purpose does one not wish to do evil? Is it to appease God or the public sensibility of evil? Do they, the Google execs, really know what evil is? I think it can be simply answered, but I know for one that I cannot answer it, but I hope they reconsider their motto's premises as they reconsidered their dealings in China...

-- Bridget

Google didn't do evil... They just didn't do good (5, Insightful)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487331)

As far as I can tell Google continued its "Do no evil" policy in China. They didn't take anything away from Chinese users- they merely offered a new Chinese service that openly filters results. How many Chinese search engines mention that they filter results? When your alternatives are to let the Chinese filter Google for you (making your search engine slow and unusable, and hiding that results are filtered) or filter it yourself (so people actually use your search engine, and tell people you are censoring data), what would you do? Google isn't hurting the Chinese- (Unlike Yahoo!, which gives the Chinese government personal data) it just can't help them much.

Why is it Google's job to reform China? (5, Insightful)

jjohn (2991) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487334)

I don't understand why there's anger at Google for obeying Chinese laws. Do I agree with those laws? Hell no. But business is business. Google doesn't make money from fostering democracy in foreign lands. They make money from selling ads. China is potentially a very large market, and so Google is doing what it has to as a profit-oriented venture.

If you feel the need to blame anyone, blame the dictators. Google is just doing business.

And before this discussion degenerates into WWII analogies, remember that Google is just a damn search engine and what's being repressed are just frigging web pages. No human is being abused or tortured by Google's actions.

The reaction I've seen on this site on others to Google's decision is way out of line to what was done.

I have no doubt that China will need to liberalize their government. If they want to be an effective technological power, they will need smart people and that means increasingly free access to information.

Re:Why is it Google's job to reform China? (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487423)

"Just doing business" sounds a lot like "just following orders". Being complicit with evil is evil. Nobody was forcing Google to do business with China. They chose to adopt a policy they claimed to abhor in order to make a buck. Good to see the principles can be bought so cheaply. Sometimes standing up for what you believe in requires sacrifice.

We should get it by now.. (2, Interesting)

DoctorDyna (828525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487344)

As Google becomes more and more popular, and thus http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/15/043 6246 [slashdot.org] more and http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/05/15 26221 [slashdot.org] more of a target, they are being forced to walk on eggshells, making moves like this that edge them farther out of the way of potential law suits.

The more breathing room we give them as a company, and the less people target them, focusing law suits related to searching, with the only reason they sue google being they are the most recognizable, then the less likely they are to become "evil". We sue them into the ground, then it becomes news when they turtle?

This is a perfect example... (4, Insightful)

Stevecat (198954) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487352)

of why I still refuse to trust Google with my information. "Do no evil" - except when it hurts the shareholder's bottom line. Google is still a public corporation and no matter what the employees profess to strive for the company exists to create profits. I am pretty surprised that Google does not have a 10 year policy of erring on the side of morality to prove to skeptics like me that their motto is more than just marketing hype. To me it appears that having a stock price over $300.00 / share is the real priority.

-SmR

other evils (3, Insightful)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487362)

Google drops conservative sites from Google News. [wnd.com] Interesting that 98% of all political donations by Google employees went to support Democrats. Also, Al Gore is a senior adviser to Google.

Now, I'm not playing a partisan finger-pointing game. But these kinds of "censorship" tactics give the appearance of "evil" worse than that which they are trying to avoid, IMO. Especially when there seems to be political motives. If some news site posts factual news, real honest truth, then I don't see how you can object to it on any basis just because you don't happen to like it. That holds whether the truth hurts the political Right or the political Left.

Do no evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487363)

Apparently the Google sense of good includes pedophiles, drug dealers and nazis. In Brazil Orkut is used for such criminal activities and yet Google REFUSES to provide information about the users.

So pedophiles are safe to use google stuff and be sure that Google won't denounce them to the authorities.

Re:Do no evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487384)

Pedophiles are people too and have a right to exist.

Talk v. Action (2, Insightful)

Churla (936633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487376)

This is nice PR and a nice spin attempt. The question is what follow through it will see. Maybe i'm just too dyed in the wool of my cynicism but right now the only "wrestling with the problem" they are doing is rolling around on a pile of money they are making through compromising thier ethical stance.

It will boil down to which is more important, profits or ethics. They're a publically held company which makes me think ethics won't win.

g$$gle (1)

flumps (240328) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487400)

Money has more value than principles.

As a company, they will always chase money. I doubt they will "pull out", the tie in is too strong for them to compete now.

isn't it fascinating how it's ALWAYS China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487404)

that's talked about when it comes to censorship and the Internet but never USA or France or Germany? Try searching for info or for Nazi paraphinelia using France's Google. There is instances of censorship all over the world. USA is the heaviest censoring country in the world; this is appearant when one tries to hold a serious conversation with an American about what is really going on in Iraq. Come on, leave China alone already! China is SO evil, oooh they are so bad and they control the flow of information in China via Google! OOOh, I'm Shocked I tell you shocked! And SO outraged I will stop buying Chinese-made goods starting ah...next week!

Re:isn't it fascinating how it's ALWAYS China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487482)

"USA is the heaviest censoring country in the world;" That's a really stupid opinion, considering the likes of N. Korea, Cuba, China, Iran, and on and on.

What is the motto, really? (2, Interesting)

indrax (939495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487410)

Is it "Do no Evil" or "Don't be evil" ?
I've heard both attributed to the Google motto, but they are very different imperatives.

There are moral models in which a good person might have to do an evil for some greater good. (Work with China for the purpose of engagement)
It would also be possible to produce horrible effect without ever commiting any identifiable evil act. (We are just following the local laws.)

I don't understand clearly enough what is going on (1)

Mike Savior (802573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487472)

Maybe I'm not keeping close enough tabs on this situation. Can someone please enlighten me as to what the big deal is, with following -another- country's laws to do business there? I thought that was -good- business ethics? (I'm not a business person at all though, so.. I guess mmmv with thinking that way).

If people would only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487508)

If people would only care about the problems in their own countries first.

Then Slashdot could be a place with news for nerds and stuff that matters.

Show them you care (3, Informative)

dino303 (876573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487515)

Google is one of the very few companies which have a chance to remain "morally good" while still being successful. They just need to know that the people appreciate their "don't be evil" credo. For those who care checkout http://web.amnesty.org/pages/internet-110506-actio n-eng [amnesty.org] . regards lukas

AdSenseless (0, Offtopic)

s800 (940543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487517)

Now if they'd just stop kicking off perfectly legit adsense customers, they'd be back in good graces.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>