Google’s Responsibility



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Consumatopia says:

    This is the flipside of “I, Pencil”. As long as it makes money, as long as no one can taste the blood in the sugar, then externalities like civil rights or the environment just aren’t going to matter. If it’s impossible to keep track of how our toasters and pencils are made, then it’s impossible to take responsibility for them.Report

  2. Avatar ChrisWWW says:

    It’s definitely a little duplicitous on the part of Schmidt, although I don’t think keeping Google out of China really changes the situation. The Great Firewall would still exist, and search engine results would still be filtered. I doubt Google is actually giving technological trade secrets to the Chinese government.Report

  3. Avatar mike farmer says:

    China was the big test of “Do no evil”, and Google capitulated. Rationalizations are for mediocre companies, not great ones.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to mike farmer says:

      I completely and totally sympathize with that attitude.

      I think I disagree with it, though.

      The incrementalist approach will, I think, get to where we want to be faster than an absolutist one. Google is putting the nose of the camel in the tent and China (and liberty, for that matter) is better off for that tool being there than if it were not there.

      The vector is heading in the right direction.

      Is it ideal? No. Absolutely not… but I don’t know that the ideal that I would prefer to see is even possible. Given that, I think that getting everyone in China on the internet is a long-term benefit to the idea of liberty and the firewall is damage that will eventually be routed around.

      Half a vector in the right direction is better than none.

      Yes, the google guys are being evil and the Chinese government is, once again, being evil… but there is a genie being let out of the bottle there. A, however censored, will let the genie out of the bottle much faster than a world without it.Report

  4. Avatar James says:

    Dood, they get a censored google or no google at all. Which one would you prefer?Report

  5. Avatar Will says:

    James and Jaybird –

    Even if you think Google is correct on the merits of capitulating to the Chinese government, the sheer hypocrisy of it all continues to rankle.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will says:

      Oh, absolutely!!!

      But I am not looking at the action but the vector the action is taking. If, for example, the United States did what Google in China is doing, I’d see it as… well, let’s be kind and say an exceptionally boycottable act and one that, if it resulted in, say, hacking would probably get me to say “what did they expect?” rather than a discussion of the rule of law.

      This exact same act, however, is a step in the right direction for China.

      The vector is the important thing, here. The content of the act is secondary.

      (Is that hypocrisy too, I wonder?)Report

  6. Avatar James says:

    It’s either capitulate or Google gets added to the Great Firewall cinders. I think it’s safe to say that with regards Iran Google are doing their bit – that Farsi roll-out was quite clearly as political a move as Andrew Sullivan changing his banners to green.Report