Google admits it: “We compromised our principles” with China deal

Whether the compromise Google made with the PRC benefitted the Chinese people or not (and I think it probably did), there was never any doubt that with the deal Google betrayed its much-vaunted code of values. I have no doubt that this was an agonizing decision to make and one that did not come easily. It’s good to see that Google’s founders at least admit they betrayed their own principles.

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands. He said Google is wrestling to make the deal work before deciding whether to reverse course.

Meeting with reporters near Capitol Hill, Brin said Google had agreed to the censorship demands only after Chinese authorities blocked its service in that country. Google’s rivals accommodated the same demands — which Brin described as “a set of rules that we weren’t comfortable with” — without international criticism, he said.

“We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective service and perhaps make more of a difference,” Brin said.

Interesting to see that they are debating “reversing course” – I’d like to hear more about that. Maybe it has to do with the fact that for all the compromises, and gmail are still often blocked in most parts of China. (Check the comments to this post for verification.)

The Discussion: 3 Comments

My concern is over Gmail, my primary email account. If is withdrawn, i wonder what implications that will have for those of us trying to access our email from here? We all know there are ways to use the search engine from inside China, but there appears to be no way to get into your gmail when the pressure is on. It’s been intermittent the past week or so.

I’m all for Google making a stand against this pointless and futile web-censorship, but i just hope they fully realize the implications for their huge number of users, and examine all possible courses of action first.

June 7, 2006 @ 1:18 am | Comment

Angus, you can proxy to Gmail. It works, but it means you can’t use the account on public computers.

I understand your other points, but there’s a chance that China may go ahead and block regardless of how is handled. Google is now in a lose-lose position.

June 7, 2006 @ 2:36 am | Comment

Even while google’s been in and out over the past week or so (mostly out), I’ve always been able to get to gmail using the secure address: Not completely sure why, as the same thing hasn’t always worked for reader and calendar.

June 7, 2006 @ 10:05 am | Comment

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