Google, the search giant, was started in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in California. Google Search Engine is the most used search engine in the web among the users and probably one of the most visited web sites in the world. And behind this popularity of Google lies various factors where the speed of search, the accuracy of search, the efficiency of search, the unbiased nature of search result is the most important ones. Google has always been consistent in search and accuracy. The main focus of Google lies in its motto which says “Don’t be Evil” and its objective which is to make world information universally available, accessible and useful.
The other important character in this article is China, one of the most populated countries in the world. Unlike other countries, China controls almost all forms of communication in its domain. This control is not just for the companies that reside in China but also for the worldwide businesses who want to business in China like Google. And with this consideration in mind, Google had to develop a separate site for China which contained lots of filters.
Before Google made a separate site namely – google.cn (google.cn which is made for China censors web sites according to Chinese Government and will display the page notifying to the user that some content have been censored), for China every request that user made had to go through “The great firewall” which consisted of a router where all filtering process took place. All the companies inside China were directed to filter the content that was inappropriate. Therefore, when the Google was introduced into China, it had to follow the same rules. The entire request that was sent to Google had to go through same process.
Many criticisms rose against this step of Google saying Censorship in China is exactly opposite of their motto and are going against their policy. They are showing disregard to their own corporate mission in order to have profit in their growing business, respecting China’s mores and meeting the Chinese government demands. Not only this but that also resulted in slow functionality of the web site which led user to go to home based popular site Baide.inc.
Now the questions that arise are towards the step Google did. Are they in the path of Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism and Kant Immanuel’s deontology?
They have their reputation on stake. Their main motive is to provide information to the general people but they are going against their principle. They have to go through much criticism as US being the free country will think that keeping human being away from the information is violating the human right and their freedom to know everything.
Google is the most popular search engine and is given first priority in searching than any other search engine, so there will be high competition between the rival company which in return will decrease their market value and may have to face some loses.
Since Google have to build separate algorithm for google.cn, it may result inefficiency of the search engine to some extent. Google.cn is a site that is especially design for China and had to censor the site which will cost lot of resources and manpower. Google should inform the Chinese people about the filter done in the content of the web pages or unavailability of particular search page (if any). Google have to disclose that their Gmail, Blogging services will not be provided as not to disclose personal information of the user.
The moral issues to be disclosed-</li></ul>Moral Issues is a situation that person or organization wants to choose between alternatives that must be evaluated as ethical or unethical. <br />Some of the ethical issues are: -<br /><ul><li>Is Google censoring in China ethical in any way?
Isn’t Chinese government putting their citizen in dark by blocking those sites, which they have right to know.
Shouldn’t Google stick with their main policy of providing everyone as much information as they can?
Aren’t they making compromises that directly affect their freedom of expression to advance in business in China?
Utility is a measure of relative satisfaction so utilitarian is the one who accept the principle of utility and is concern for maximizing the overall happiness. Utilitarianism is of two types Act utilitarianism and Rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism states that when we have choices we first need to see the good and bad consequences of the action. If the good consequence outweighs the bad consequences than the action is morally proper to use otherwise that action is morally improper. Rule utilitarianism says us to follow the rule which produce more happiness than sadness.
The Utilitarian view would be that Google’s censorship in China can be viewed as having no negative effect on their decision. Google have two option in its hand whether to censor cite and follow Chinese government rule and law or not to provide search engine in China. Before Google was providing with the unfiltered information and each time all the search query have to pass through the “the great firewall” for filtering due to which Chinese user have to wait for a long time to wait for page to load. So it’s better to give them filtered search result rather than to make user wait for a long time. Profit for Google rose and became the competitor of the China’s largest search engine baidu.com. This way Google, shareholders of Google, Chinese government and Chinese citizen all are happy which makes overall happiness much higher than the pain. If Google backs off and does not provide their search engine then one who will be affected most by the decision will be Google itself and China where there are 420 million internet user will be affected by Google’s decision. We can clearly view that the one who is going to be affected much are higher in number than the one who is not so according to utilitarianism Google decision to censor are making Google, Chinese Government as well as Chinese citizen happy.
Even if Google disagree to censor the site, China will anyhow block the content of site by their great firewall which in return will have huge impact on Google’s business. Instead censoring increased the speed of search result and giving user information what they wanted in much less time. By agreeing the demand of the Chinese government Google is working in law and keeping all of them happy.
Deontological analysis-</li></ul>From Kantian view a moral action is not based upon feelings or pity. Nor is it is not based on the possibility of reward. Instead, a moral action is one based on a sense of “This is what I ought to do.”<br />How can Google whose motto is “Don’t Be Evil” and whose main focus is to provide information universally can go against their motto?<br /><ul><li>Censoring law in itself is incorrect but can be taken as ethical if they indicate you where all information can be found out. Kantian may disagree with Google censoring their search engine result in China though Google is doing its duty of providing information universally available even they have to redact some content of the site. Like Google decide to censor in China because they want to advance their business in China so later on if other countries ask Google or companies to do something else according to their law and they agree to do then they are moving away from their duty just for their benefit which is not as what Kant tells.
From Kantian view Google is accompanying Chinese government by removing the content from the search related to massacre in Tiananmen Square, Dalai Lama, Tibet etc and they both are using Chinese citizen as a means to an end. According to categorical imperative we should not use people (only) as a means to an end. Google ends are to do more business in China and government of China is blocking content so that the Chinese people won’t rebel by what happened in history and go against them.
According to Kant all human being are rational, they have their own respect and have capability to choose freely so it’s their right to know everything about what happened before. So according to Kantian theory Google are completely unethical as it hide information from Chinese people.
Virtue ethics is an approach that deemphasizes rules, consequences and particular acts and places the focus on the kind of person who is acting.
According to the virtue ethics Google is compromising with Chinese government and is threatening the freedom of information. By doing censoring Google is doing injustice to the people who use Google as their first preferred search engine. Before Google used to provide the unfiltered information to the China but later it got bind with the law and regulation and started to filter and redact some information from the site which according to their objective is wrongdoing. Google’s duty is to provide information all over the world and now when they started to censor in China later on other country may start to offer other censoring thing in their country. They have to do what they are supposed to do that is providing unfiltered information. Chinese Government’s duty is to provide there citizen with all inform
Generosity, truthfulness, fairness, justice all these are character of virtue so according to it China and Google both are going against it. Like they both are hiding the information from the Chinese people and are exploiting the human rights.
I would like to conclude my essay considering both aspects utilitarianism and Kantian.
Utilitarianism counts on overall happiness. Google saw a good business prospect in China due to the huge population of country and agreed to the term and condition as imposed by the government. With this fact in consideration Google did what it thought right. However it notifies the users of any block content or any page and it is doing its best to give knowledge to the people about censoring. I think Google is perfectly right agreeing the Chinese government terms and condition. I think even Google decision for not blocking the content would not make a significant difference in the overall scenario because ultimately the Chinese government would filter their content using the “the great firewall” and the only impact would be on Google; they would lose their business in China and with this decision of Google, all stakeholders- Google, Chinese government, Chinese people seem to be happy. Google is happy with its business in China, government is happy with its policy implementation and Chinese people would have to live with this kind of filter anyhow.
Moving towards Kantian view, Google is totally wrong with its decision. Kantian counts on following one’s duty and the Google did just opposite of it. The main duty of Google is to provide complete unbiased search result to the people and this agreement of Google is taking it just opposite its track where it should move. It is not fair to the millions of people in China who rely on Google for search information. So according to Kantian view I think Google is totally not following its duty and thinking about its business.