Analyzing Google's censorship in China


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Analyzing Google's censorship in China

  1. 1. I. Name Ahmad Atiq ACSG575 Essay #1 – Analyzing Google’s censorship in China II. Introduction Google has a history of being a company that is transparent in its own privacy agreements as well as the privacy laws that we all have to adhere to here in the United States. The main issue that we are facing now is how Google is handing its own stake in the Chinese market. As we all know China has a vast population that is online. As a company that does business on the internet China is a goldmine. The Chinese market is an excellent market to get involved with. The monetary profit that one can make by having a stake in the Chinese market would skyrocket the company’s revenue as a whole. On the reverse side of this issue China has a censorship law that was put in place by the government. This law puts a complete restriction on the internet. The “Great Firewall of China” allows the government to block anything they deem “forbidden.” Since Google is a company that believes being completely transparent in all of its actions they face an interesting dilemma. The only way they are going to get a part of the Chinese market is to completely follow all laws of the Chinese government. This includes the internet censorship law. Is Google doing the right thing by setting up in China? What moral boundaries are being crosses as Google competes for a major stake in Chinese business? We will address these issues later, but first we must establish what is at stake. III. Stakeholders One of the main stakeholders of this situation is the people of China. As of right now the Chinese government has a stranglehold on what information flows in and what information flows
  2. 2. out. The people of China have the right to be free. They should be able to freely choose what websites they can view and what websites they can share with as well. They moral values that are at stake for the people of China are privacy. Google is another major stakeholder. They have monetary gains to be made if they comply with the Chinese government. As a business, you always want to be moving into new markets and generating more profit. Google also has their personal reputation at stake. Since Google is known as a company that promotes the motto, “Don’t be evil.” Are they going against what they believe in by entering the Chinese market? Google employees are also major stake holders in this ethical situation. What if certain employees are morally against the idea of entering the Chinese market? How does this affect their job status with Google? The Chinese Government has something at stake as well. If they allow Google in they risk the chance of information possibly leaking out to the public that they do not want them to see. They also draw attention on themselves from the world media since Google is a media monster. IV. The Technology issues to be disclosed The main technology issues that are important in this ethical situation is the use of Google’s search engine to query meaningful data. What this means is Google is a free service to all people. Google allows one to query it, and then it returns meaningful information on what was searched. In China, one might search a certain topic that the Government considers “forbidden” and Google’s search service would not return what is needed. In fact, it was mentioned in the article that Google would completely block certain searches from returning anything. Google offered to even have a Google news services for China, but it would only include government approved information. So let’s say the Chinese government puts false information on Google news. Now we have Google an American based company spreading false
  3. 3. information, controlling data, and censoring the truth. Even though they themselves are not doing it they are still submitting to the Chinese Government, and allowing them to manipulate there data. Is the monetary reward really worth people’s personal values? V. The moral issues to be considered The most significant moral issue at play is the issue of privacy and personal freedom. Google is moving into a market that obviously does not value these things. If they did then the Chinese government would never censor and control information like they are currently doing. Everyone at Google knows what is going on in China yet they are agreeing to some core evil principles they claim that they are completely against. The people of China are being stripped of their personal freedom to not only share, but view information deemed “forbidden.” As for the issue of privacy it is certainly not a farfetched idea that the Chinese government could request Google to send over certain peoples search queries or request personal information like an IP address. This could severally cause issues for bloggers that actually share and discuss relative information. The constant worry of being arrested and tried is more than enough to raise question to the true motives of Google. How can a company who says, “Don’t be evil” move into and agree to certain principles because they believe that the monetary value of the market is worth it. Is Google putting a price on people’s personal freedoms, and using them as a means to the end? Google is really risking the company’s personal reputation by moving into such a controversial market. VI. Utilitarian analysis From strictly a Utilitarian view point a Utilitarian would look purely at what maximizes benefits for the majority. A Utilitarian would argue that Google should open a market in China
  4. 4. because the good from them doing it completely outweighs the bad. The Chinese government already is censoring things regardless if Google is present or not. If Google goes into China the amount of money they can make from this market is unimaginable. This also can create more jobs for people, and that allows people to have money and a means of support. This can also help both the American and Chinese economies as well. Google also is offering a free search service to the people of China. As the article states previous to Google entering China they were limited in what search services they could use. The normal kicked back slow search times and sometimes incomplete results to queries that were acceptable by the Government. Even if some content is blocked by the government not everything will be, and the benefits of being able to research things more effectively on the internet using a proper search engine is worthwhile. The amount of jobs created from Google going to China for both American’s and Chinese is also an added incentive. Also, if Google has close ties with the Chinese Government who knows how much of a positive influence they could have on them. This could in turn include removing some of the censored information. As a consequence of Google entering the Chinese market and the amount of people that benefit outweighs the bad a Utilitarian would agree to move into the market. VII. Deontological Analysis The deontological school of thought would not want Google to enter China. Google has a duty to stay true to itself and its motto, “Don’t be evil”. This means that Google should not join in and promote “evil” activities. If Google joins forces with the Chinese Government then it would be even easier for the Chinese government to control information completely. Since Google would probably be the main search engine this means everyone would use it. Regardless of the amount of money, or good Google could bring to China they are obligated and have a duty
  5. 5. to not give up anymore peoples personal freedoms to the Chinese Government. A pure deontological analysis would reveal that the motive is not a pure and good one itself. Regardless of the good consequences of Google going into China a deontologist would not go into the country because they aren’t concerned with the possible good consequences. We are more concerned with the motive of the action itself. The act of Google going into China goes completely against the duty of being an American company that is peace, freedom, and democracy loving. VIII. Virtue In virtue ethics they would approach it in the sense that they would not want Google to go into China. Google would be compromising its character if it did so. Virtue ethics is more concerned with the character of the actors rather then what the outcome would be. They would come to this conclusion based off the fact that the Chinese government is violating personal freedoms that everyone is born with. These freedoms are freedoms that no man made agency can take away. One of the main vices in this situation is greed. It would seem that Google is allowing greed to overtake its previous good judgment. The Greed to expand into a larger market is starting to weigh heavily into decisions that affect human beings. Google is a company that is supposed to be transparent in its actions. So why would a company who bases its morals off these principles then decide to go into a market that completely goes against its very core ideals and fall victim to a vice? IX. Conclusion I came up with different conclusions between both theories. I personally identify more with the Deontological theory more than the Utilitarian theory. I believe that since Google is an
  6. 6. American based company, and as Americans we enjoy the right to freedom we should not have an American company go into a country that does not believe in the same core values as we do. It would seem to me that Google is thinking more about the money than the people who will be affected by such a controlling Government. It’s very apparent the amount of money one would make when entering such a large and rich Chinese market. We already know of Yahoo following suite and coming under fire for actually handing over information to the Chinese Government about journalist in China. This just shows the pure greed of certain corporations that value money over human lives. As Americans why would we want to profit on such an evil premise? I believe this is going against everything we stand for as a nation, and it disrespects everyone who has struggled to gain freedom.