The Google-China plot thickens

Mysterious YouTube outages. Traffic redirected inside the Great Firewall. Google corporate pages displaying in Chinese -- the fallout from Google's China decision is getting ugly fast

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“We were having to contact Chinese users to ask for their personal information and begrudgingly give it to Chinese authorities,” Jones told Congress. “We decided we didn’t want to become an agent of the Chinese government.”

“It would be very difficult to say we don’t track publicity at Go Daddy because we do,” Jones told on Thursday. “This is not the Go Daddy PR machine cranking up. You can point fingers at us around the Super Bowl, but not here.”

Personally, I don't think it's a principled stand as much as a practical one. Why endure the hassle and expense of doing something you didn't want to do in the first place? The fact that .cn registrations represent a fraction of a percent of GoDaddy's business probably made the decision a lot easier.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress -- ever alert for hot-button issues where it can make a lot of noise without actually having to do anything -- jumped in with both feet, praising Google and condemning Microsoft for continuing to do business as usual in the Central Kingdom.

Arrington is defending Microsoft for not taking a principled stand on China. (Makes you wonder how much MFST stock he's holding in his portfolio.) He also called Google's move a hypocritical publicity stunt (see "ever subtle," above).

Is Google's move a publicity stunt? Hardly. Is it hypocritical? Perhaps. But I think Cringester G. D. summed it up rather nicely in an email:

Whether Google is leaving China for altruistic reasons or not, it still shows it has more gumption than virtually any company and many governments. One is reminded of countries and companies being afraid to offend Nazi Germany until we went to war with them. At what point does greed justify anything of good in this world? I used to think of Google as too powerful a company and that its power of necessity made it a concern for intellectual freedom. But outside of internal Chinese activists, Google is the only organization in the world that is standing up to China....

Where is our humanity, our ethics? China is the largest creditor for our U.S. mountain of public debt. Pretty soon we will be faced with an Icelandic question of whether we will tax our own people to pay this monstrosity? We are taking part in a serious downfall if we all do not stand up to China.

Should we all stand up to China? And if so, who's going to pay our debts when they call in their markers? Post your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "The Google-China plot thickens," was originally published at Read more of Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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