Sunday, January 24, 2010

Business or ethics?

Google has risen up fast as it has gathered a large following despite its’ relatively new presence, having launched its site in China in 2006. As China is rapidly developing, its citizens are becoming more technology savvy and rely on Google for various activities like sending emails, checking up maps and using the translation tool to translate Chinese into English, or vice versa. China is such a large market and Google is not the only search engine, in fact there are many other websites which are more popular, in particular Baidu.com. Nevertheless, many still prefer to use Google.
The main issue of the various discussions and debates is Google’s announcement that it will no longer continue censoring its’ search engine results in line with China’s regulations and would pull out if China is not willing to give in.
Responses gained from some Google users in China shows that they do not wish to see Google leave their country. For example, Liao Yuting, a first-year journalism student at the People's University of China in Beijing, said the majority feel it will be disastrous if Google shuts down. The search engine has become part and parcel of their lives.
Although Google has been successful in gaining popularity among many Chinese users, there are still many who feel it is right for China to continue censoring the firm’s search engine. Basically the censoring works by blocking access results for sensitive words, for instance, Tiananmen massacre which is a bad reflection of the government in the past. Chinese users are not able to access results for sensitive words, such as Tiananmen massacre, a reference to the bloody crackdown on protesters in Beijing in 1989.
Those who side the government’s decision believe that this is the best way for China to control the people as the past information could be misused. Besides, the country is so big and it would be difficult to monitor if anyone is planning anything against the government-the best way is just to block access to all these information.


The main question now is what Google’s final decision will be. Even if it does pull out, how long can the China government continue to keep the historical truth from its people? Google is indeed torn between two choices- business or ethics. If it pulls out, there would be a large market share loss. At the same time, the hacking of Gmail accounts and blocking the past truth is unethical and unfair to the people.

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