Many conservative commentators have been applauding Google’s newfound resistance to China’s internet controls, and hoping that the Obama administration takes heed. Although Google’s speaking out is to be welcomed, at least for again highlighting the issue, Google and its US hi-tech compatriots, like CISCO and Yahoo, have been hip-deep in furthering domestic repression in despotic countries across the globe, including China.
In this case, the Obama administration actually has cause to blame Bush. I wrote many columns in 2005-6 about this freedom repression complicity by US hi-tech leaders (see below the fold, at Read More, for a link list I just compiled for another researcher) with the looking-away by the Bush administration which was more interested in foreign trade than foreign freedoms.
But, there’s still more to the story. China’s house internet provider, Baidu, has eaten Google’s lunch in China and is expanding globally. Baidu’s stock has widely outperformed Google’s. Google’s new verbal resistance is more a competitive move to highlight to other governments Baidu’s role in repressing free searches on its search engine, and to increase Google’s prospects in China by getting permission from China to offer more freedom of searches than Baidu. There may be some loosening, but that skeptically remains to be seen, as China has more than one way to skin Internet freedom and will.
Google and other US companies are duplicitous in their dealings with despotic regimes, hiding their furtherance of repression behind free trade and freedom rhetoric that is hollow.
Updates: The Wall Street Journal has a useful overview of Google in China. Congressman Chris Smith, a liberal Republican from New Jersey, has long led the fight for human rights and internet freedom, including his Global Online Freedom Act. As reported in the links below, Google like other US hi-tech companies opposed it. Now, Google is in favor. Also, see China's cyberspace policy.
Tracked: Jan 23, 12:35