itself as heroic in refusing to help the U.S. Department of Justice's
efforts to reinstate a 1998 federal Child Online Protection Act,
then revealed that it was going to help the Chinese government
suppress free speech. That sort of goes against the company's
informal corporate motto, "Don't be evil."
how eager those in the Bay Area are to believe that the evil Bush
administration wants to double as Big Brother and eavesdrop on
well-meaning peaceniks. So it doesn't matter that the DOJ isn't
looking for information on individual accounts -- but instead
wanted data on how the Internet is used during a given week to
see how users access porn.
I'd be more supportive of the Department of Justice's subpoena
if the feds were trying to locate specific individuals -- child-porn-aholics,
for instance -- just as I would support a government subpoena
for bank accounts used to launder mob money. My issue with the
subpoena -- and I agree with Google on this -- is that it asks
for a huge chunk of information to support the government in a
civil suit. It's a fishing expedition, in which corporate America
provides free research. Yahoo and Microsoft, however, were able
to comply. A Yahoo spokesperson said the company did not release
personally identifiable information.
rights? Be it noted that exposing children to porn on the Internet
violates their parents' rights. Still, Google emerged from the
controversy as a defender of privacy. Columnist Robert Scheer
in Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle duly lauded Google's
refusal to comply with the Justice Department's request, as he
wrote that the "latest high-tech upstart giant dared to challenge
the government's claim of an unbridled right to break into our
information-age virtual homes." The Washington Post's
Eugene Robinson described the subpoena as "more of an Orwellian
threat than the National Security Agency's snooping on phone calls
to marvel at Google's great marketing ploy. The company amasses
founts of information on users of its service. Yet, by riding
on the coattails of anti-Bush sentiment, Google claims the mantle
of champion of privacy rights. "We intend to resist (the
government's) motion vigorously," said a Google lawyer in
Google. The Google-philes fawn as if bashing the Bushies in the
Bay Area is an act of courage, when it's the most popular -- and
probably profitable -- thing a company can do.
back in Beijing, Google has agreed to filter out sites that the
Chinese government doesn't like. The Chinese government won't
have to rely on its fleet of monitoring devices that block out
"subversive" content from the West, such as information
on the Tiananmen Square protest, Tibet and Taiwan. Google will
do the dirty work.
View, Calif., company will withhold e-mail and blogging services,
it says, to protest the Chinese filtering. A Google statement
explained that "while removing search results is inconsistent
with Google's mission, providing no information" is "more
It may be
only a matter of time before Google starts acting like other Internet
providers that also censor for China. Last year, Yahoo helped
the Chinese government prosecute a dissident reporter. This month,
Microsoft shut down a pesky blog. As The Associated Press
reported, Microsoft's service in China bars such terms as "democracy"
and "human rights."
thought: Google could ban the phrase, "Don't be evil."
I understand that Google wants to make a profit. I just don't
know how company execs garner the image of little guys standing
up to big, bad government.
say no to the Bushies and know that it won't lose any business,
its executives won't go to jail and their children will not get
run over by tanks. In the country where those things could happen,
Google is a collaborator.