I. Name:Justin AndrewsACSG 575Essay #1 – Analyzing Google’s censorship in ChinaII. IntroductionThe issue at hand concerns censorship, but more specifically the moves made by Googlein order to gain access to China, as such actions bring out what some would argue arevery clear negatives to the idea of censoring something like the internet. Whether or notGoogle’s actions should be deemed as unethical will be clarified by performing both aUtilitarian and Deontological analysis on the actions, while keeping all stakeholders inmind. The technology involved, along with virtues, vices, and morals will all be broughtin to help ensure the arguments made consider as many aspects as possible. Even if theyare not enough to offer a complete and irrefutable argument, enough information shouldbe presented to honor both types of analysis as they are put to use. The analysis’ will inparticular cover the idea of a censored search engine, along with the lack of certainservices and the special selections of news that were specified as being government-driven. Without even specifying any facts it is clear that an issue such as this is difficultto see in a localized setting, as the internet is something that is used globally, resulting ineverything being interconnected in at least some shape and form.III. StakeholdersOne of the primary stakeholders is Google, as it is their services and actions which willbe the major focus of this paper. The values Google has at stake include integrity,reliability, strength, respect, and privacy, all of which are interrelated when it comes tothis issue. China as a whole is an obvious stakeholder, but specifically concerned partiesinclude the government and the country’s citizens, both for similar reasons. Both have
values related to privacy, freedom, and justice at stake, while the government inparticular also has the value of honesty at stake. Outside of these groups, one may lookoutward and consider observers as stakeholders as well, such as the media watchdoggroup mentioned in the article that mentions the issue. What these people could have atstake are values relative to those they see as equals, the Chinese citizens, whom they feelshould deserve the same amount of freedom that they have, or at the very least not haveanyone aid in restricting such freedoms, such as Google.IV. The technology issues to be disclosedOne such issue concerns why Google’s motives for such actions were enough for them tohave decided what they had. The entire issue of censoring the Internet, using technology,factors into the analysis’ as it’s not just a matter of not enacting some type of technology,but structuring it in a certain way, as deemed by a government such as China’s.V. The moral issues to be consideredThe most important moral issue that should be considered is the right to free speech. Thereason I say this is because the Chinese citizens will be unable to access certaininformation and have no choice in receiving other information from their government.Google’s concern regarding offering an e-mail service underlines the issue as well, sinceit doesn’t wish to hand over its users’ private information to the Chinese government,which is a very likely outcome. Despite the fact the right to freedom of speech does notapply to China as it does to other countries such as the United States, it’s important tohighlight due to the fact that the internet’s purpose is to connect people to many parts ofthe world. Issues specific to Google include the concept of honesty and trust regardingGoogle’s deal with the Chinese government. Such a fact may leave users hesitant in
continuing to use its products, compared to having used them without issue in the past.The hypocrisy in Google’s “don’t be evil” slogan in relation to these actions may have afar more reaching impact on customers and other competitors as well, leading tounforeseen consequences. The moral issues that concern the Chinese government arealmost identical to some that relate to Google, with it showing a lack of trust in itscitizens, which in turn may lead to those citizens further distrusting their government.The moral issues concerning the Chinese citizens in particular are mostly those that arenot in their favor and restrictive, such as a potential lack of privacy, along with a lack offreedom in using the internet to its fullest capabilities. The issue of justice is also to beconsidered, as third party observers feel it is one that is being pushed aside in favor ofprofit.VI. Utilitarian analysisDespite the clear obstructions toward freedom of speech occurring due to Google’sactions, there are a lot of facts to consider, as well as the consequences of these acts.While it is true that the people of China will encounter restrictions, Google’s presencewill make it easier for those who were familiar with its products, especially concerningthe search engine. Seeing how its engine was on occasion inaccessible, it can prove to bevery helpful and convenient to many citizens of China. Google’s contributions mayprove to help the nation as a whole, along with its people, in being able to provide itsservices. While this can be seen as a surplus of happiness, there’s also the negativefeelings to consider. Google itself states how uncomfortable it is with its decision,meaning that the employees may possibly not be in favor of the work put before them.There are also the feelings of the people to consider in a broader sense. Even though the
Chinese people may be happy to be receiving these services, they may be aware of thelack of freedom that will continue to come with it, making them feel some relief, but nottotal in regards to what they can talk about and learn. Those living outside of the countryhave also taken an interest in this issue. Such observers are very likely to feel displeasedwith these actions due to their own origins, with exceptions likely being insignificant innumber. Considering the feeling’s of only people in China, the argument would lead oneto believe this is a morally sound decision. Yet with the whole world also having aninterest, and in turn being affected by unforeseen consequences, it is not as likely nor asclear how much happiness and unhappiness is being delivered. In the end, it is easier todecide that it is a morally alright decision however, as the amount of unhappiness is notexactly measurable, and very likely to be outweighed by the satisfaction of an enhanced,secure search engine.VII. Deontological AnalysisWhile many different groups were looked into regarding the utilitarian analysis, Googlebecomes the focal point here as the actions are primarily being taken upon by them, withthe others having not initialized anything on their part before the company’s involvement.With that in mind, it is important to point out Google’s apparent conflict in having madesuch a decision, meaning they do not necessarily see it as ethically sound in their owneyes. The aspect of it being a duty is that it is to serve the needs of Chinese citizens, yetthe intent behind it is arguably not only to serve these people, but to also increase theirown profits. With one of the potential motivations, if not the primary, involving a drivefor profits and customers, the actions taken may not so much be a duty to others as it is tothe company’s own desires, making it one to appropriately criticize. It does not help that
the facts shared regard the move as one that will offer Google access to over 100,000 newcustomers. An argument to be made in Google making a questionable move regards thefact that they withheld other services they feel they would also have the Chinesegovernment monitoring. If the company knows their services can and would suffer suchrestrictions and control, the question lies in why they would offer them, leaving theactions to appear less right than before.VIII. Virtue and VicesThe most important vice that can be seen here is that of greed, which the facts imply isone of the reasons Google has decided to cooperate with the Chinese government, inorder to get to the potential customers of that nation. Ideas of greed and pride also existin part with the Chinese government due to their demands in regards to censorship, yetthis is something that has been in practice since before Google decided to branch out intothe nation. The reason they are important is because of how they play into the actionsand demands forced onto Google, demands that Google complied with in turn. Google’spossible greed can theoretically also apply to the idea of pride, as the company wishes tocontinue growing in both size and strength, and be seen by others as a reputable force. Avirtue that there would seem to be a lack of is indicated by Google’s compliance withChinese laws, instead of trying to negotiate any kind of deal that allows the company tofollow its own moral mindset. A virtue of dependability is also enacted here, due to thefact that Google as a company is, through its actions, saying it cannot be dependable inChina, due to its restricted service. The lack of virtues in comparison to the amount ofvices that can be identified warrant this analysis as well as the criticizing being done byobservant groups and people, in a very decisive manner.
IX. ConclusionIn conclusion, I can say that both analysis’ that were taken offered a better understandingin regards to the issue, either clarifying how I felt or helping to bring the other factorsinto focus that I had not yet considered. Regarding the utilitarian approach, using it ledme to a different conclusion than the one I would have gone with, and I still feel it is notone I can fully accept. Despite this, I was able to understand that what Google is doingwill be helping the Chinese citizens in the long run, despite the censorship that’s been putin place, and I also understand that such restrictions may one day be removable. Alsothanks to the utilitarian analysis, I was able to think about the manner in a way thatallowed me to realize that Google, while uncomfortable with the censorship, was able toprovide a very efficient service that could only increase several aspects of life to internetusers in China. Such a service may have given such users greater access than what mayhave been unavailable or an entirely large hassle to use in the past. With thedeontological analysis, I was able to structure my own feelings regarding the issue in amore definitive way than I could have without it, as it highlighted many of the issues andconcerns I had regarding the company’s choice to go along with the Chinesegovernment’s regulations. Instead of just feeling that I knew something was wrong withit, I could see why and even discover other issues I had with the deal than I would haveotherwise noticed. Whether or not I agree to either line of thinking, I can see from thisexample that they help lead me to thoughts that would have otherwise not beenconceived. If I had to choose a theory that was more useful to me, however, it wouldhave to be in regards to deontology.