China’s obsession about controlling the Internet as a disruptive force is well summarized in this Wired story about the murder of a young Chinese student for Internet addiction. The story quite rightly highlights the paranoia and sense of threat are shared by society and bureaucrats. Cnet also offers a nice roundup of events leading up to Google’s sudden discovery it was doing business with an authoritarian government.
John Markoff et al. also remind us that the Chinese government has been waging formal warfare on the Internet since the first doctrinal and theoretical iterations appeared over a decade ago. In this instance, they are a people of their word. And who would have guessed an authoritarian government would hack private computers, foreign governments networks, and in general act like a determined geopolitical foe and opponent of liberal democracy?
We always thought Google’s initial decision to wade into China pecuniary. Too big a market to be missed. Perhaps they thought deals with authoritarians could be kept quiet. Isn’t that the point of authoritarianism? So we have no sympathy for them now. After all, they had 5 years of the Warlord, National Security Letters and the NSA all gone ex- constitutional here. On a day to day commercial basis Google is in many ways as oppressive, capricious and domineering as its supposed evil Chinese overlords. It’s time to end the charade of Google’s ‘innocence’ and ‘don’t do bad things’ mouthings.
They knowingly crawled into bed with the devil. And seemingly want to run away half pregnant. They will miss out on the large market revenue they lust for. Now that Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon have split up, some of the future parties to shower Schmidt, Brin and the other kid will be more fractured. Plus, as Techdirt notes, Google is quite content to help the Indian government censor. Kind of inconvenient when trying to celebrate a stand on principle.
On the other hand, it could all be clever PR – the launch of their iPhone-killer was a boondoggle. A complete nightmare. Who better to blow that noisome publicity away than some faceless Chinese who want to monitor the Dali Lama’s downloading of American Idol on YouTube? Much posturing, like WWF’s early days. If not, it’s not like the U.S. is completely out of the market. There’s a company, further north, that specializes in evil (unintentional or not) and above all shares the zeal in crushing dissent and competition — although they may be getting soft. They even have a product, Bing! (And it seems were in on it from the get go . . .)