Google is taking a lot of heat over their decision to officially accept Chinese government censorship of their search results. I’ve been reluctant to criticize because I have a feeling, just a feeling, that there’s more going on here than we know.
Yes, there’s no doubt that Google, Cisco, and other American companies are complying with Chinese censorship efforts. And in China’s case those efforts may sometimes be much more dire than passively blocking web sites and hiding search results. If that’s all being done for purely reasons of profit then it’s about as amoral as you can get.
On the other hand, it could be that the Chinese are opening their gates to the biggest Trojan horse in history. Both in the ancient and modern meanings of the term. The technology infrastructure of what may be the next world superpower is being built on American technology by US companies. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that US intelligence agencies are very happy about this development. What would the NSA give to monitor every search request in, say, Iran? To look over the shoulders of each government official who visits a web site? What’s the best way that they could manage that?
It’s possible – even likely – that Google, Cisco, etc, are just following the money regardless of moral questions about who they do business with. Posing as privacy advocates stateside while selling out their users offshore. However, it’s also just possible that 30 or 40 years from now when the issue is long past we’ll discover that these companies once made an amazing contribution to national security, and willingly sacrificed their public image to do it. I’m probably just imagining things, but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?