Google gets its mojo back

When Google decided to set up a censored version of its search engine in China in 2006, I was among those who criticised the company for its decision (here and here).

As well thiking it was the wrong decision in principle, I worried that a company that says one thing (“Don’t Be Evil”) and does another will eventually suffer from the contradiction between their values and their actions.

So I applaud their announcement today that they are taking a new approach in China and their threat to pull out of the market.

(Ironically, Google’s own blog is censored here in Ethiopia. You cannot access blogspot blogs.)

Google is standing up to dictatorship and speaking out for free speech, and putting this ahead of their immediate commercial interests.

It is hard to imagine other companies standing up for their – and our – values in this way. (Can you imagine Microsoft withdrawing their Bing search engine instead of producing sanitized results?)

Bloggers are quick to criticise when companies do the wrong thing.  So let’s be equally unstinting in our praise when they do things right.

Good on yer, Google.

2 comments on “Google gets its mojo back”

  1. I doubt Google is basing its decision on “values”. It’s a business. If operating in China was making Google profits it would stay. This week’s Economist provides some commercial reasons as to why Google would decide to leave, and they sound a lot more likely than human rights principles.

    If anything, if principles are what matter then Google should stay rather than leave China. It offers citizens a (censored) alternative to (heavily censored) Baidu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Published by

Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and