Google Bailing Out of China?

January 13, 2010 at 2:37 am (Cool Tech, Internet tech, Politics) (, , , , , , , , )

Wow. I did not see that one coming.  This is the biggest news since the Internet’s 40th Birthday last year.

Google has had an uneasy relationship with China for several years.  The search engine mega-corp (up until now) has been working with the Chinese government to censor and limit the search results returned to Google users in China.  Apparently, when users in China search for things like “Tiananmen Square” there are no results.  (Not so here in the US, of course.  Today.)

But now, it appears that the gloves are off, and the search company whose motto is “Don’t Be Evil” is prepared to stand up to Beijing.  Why? Reports are that G-Mail web-mail accounts belonging to Chinese dissidents (and others) are being hack-attacked by cyber-forces within China.  And Google doesn’t like that very much.  Sort of the last straw for the boys at Google.

So, will there be no more kow-towing to the Great Firewall of China?  It’s a bit early to tell, but I think we’re looking at a “irresistible force vs. immovable object” situation here.  And it’s a safe bet that the US State Department will get involved at some point in this new cyber-brouhaha.  Trade agreements, loans from China to the US, Chinese imports, most favored nation status… there are so many factors that tie America to China at this point, that any disruptions could cause significant and unforeseen consequences.

Potentially, this is a good opportunity for China’s home-grown search engine industry to get a leg up.  Baidu.com has been mentioned in some reports as a possible beneficiary of the cyber-snottiness.

The Internets - TWO Series of Tubes?One possible result: two Internets.  BusinessWeek is reporting Bloomberg expects some serious tussles between the Western World and China over the shape of the Internet.  The two visions – China’s desire for a controlled, stable, sanitary web, versus the American / European insistence on a democratic, open, accessible Internet – are going to be hard to reconcile.

Personally, I’d rather see China either open, or have their own bloody-minded, locked down Internet.  I sure don’t want to see the rest of the world following the Chinese model.

Feel free to disagree.  There’s space, just below.  Go for it, and enjoy our open Internet, and the freedom of discourse.



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