Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Traitor of the week

Apparently Google (unnofficial motto "Don't be evil") has joined Microsoft (unofficial motto "More evil than Satan himself"), Yahoo! and Rupert Murdoch by going into the censorship business on behalf of the Red Chinese.

Why is this important? In the words of internet guru John Gilmore, "The internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it." At the moment, various groups including Peacefire are helping Chinese internet users route around censorship, with some success. Self-censorship is much harder to route around.

This kind of behaviour undermines the competitive advantage of free societies. The good guys usually win because a society that allows the free exchange of information invents things like the Internet (and the Bomb, for that matter), whereas a society that censors dangerous ideas like "democracy" and "Tibet" does not. Furthermore, technologies like the Internet spread give the bad guys a kind of Hobsobn's choice between economic stagnation and tolerating access to unauthorised information. A Commified Chinese Internet purged of deviant thought (something that China could never build for itself) will not have that salutary effect.

Yahoo, Microsoft et al. are devoting their considerable technological skill (which could only ever have been developed in a free society) to ensuring that Red China gets all the economic benefits of the Internet without the freedom. If Red China becomes an economic superpower while remaining a communist dictatorship, then it will be an existential threat to human civilisation in the way in which Nazi Germany and the USSR were, and a bunch of disgruntled camel-thieves never will be. While I knew Microsoft were felonious scum for a long time and accordingly expected no better, to see Google behaving in this way is a pity.

Google's decision is motivated by the desire to increase its share of the $151 million a year Chinese search market. In hard currency, that is thirty pieces of silver.

P.S. See this excellent article for a (slightly) more charitable view of what Google have done

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3 Comments:

  • At 4:20 pm , Blogger Femme de Resistance said...

    Funnily enough, I was thinking about blogging on this topic.

    It appears great minds think alike (and apparently so do we).

     
  • At 9:14 am , Blogger James J. Na said...

    By "felonious scum" and linking to the MS vs. Eliot Spitzer legal doc, you weren't, by any chance, referring to the latter, were you?

    Guess not. What a pity.

     
  • At 11:28 am , Blogger Femme de Resistance said...

    The economist is more charitable:

    http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5448072

    (hoping this isn't subscription only).

     

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