Thursday, January 26, 2006

Is the attack on Google unfair?

Everybody is currently up in arms over Google’s decision to alter its search engine in China, at their request, so that it filters information that the Chinese government thinks is inappropriate.

Now I’m in know way saying China is a great place when it comes to freedom but does Google have a point when it says that "while removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information is more inconsistent with our mission." I think what people are missing here is that considering where China is starting from on the freedom scale, it’s foolish to think that they should just throw the doors open to U.S. style freedom.

Taking the U.S. as an example, today we are spoiled with our freedom with some of it to the point where it can be argued it is out of control. Comparing our movies and TV today versus 40-50 years ago I think is a good way to look at where China is at currently. In 1939 the movie Gone With the Wind stirred an uproar when one of the lines in the movie stated “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a dam”. The line was considered scandalous and the producers of the movie were given a fine of $5,000, a large amount of money for the time. Studios back then believed in censoring anything on TV and the movies that could corrupt America, similar to the position China is currently taking with the Internet.

Over the last 5 decades America has more and more become desensitized to what is shown on TV. I think the same will go for China. As time goes on, China will continue to lower its guard. It was only 10 years ago where the idea of reading anything on the Internet in China would’ve been a no no. Allot of what will progress things in China like in this country is the youth of today will be tomorrows leaders. It is that youth that will get it most. Currently our government is trying to find ways to stop video games like Grand Theft Auto. 15 years from now there will be people running government who probably played it, how will that change any legislation passed today? Most likely by softening it up.

China will get there too and companies like Google are right to recognize that the baby steps are what will do the most good today.

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