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China vs. Google vs. Microsoft

Google is apparently ready to give up on the world's most populated country all because it censors the Internet.

It seems disingenuous of Google to threaten to leave China when Google invades privacy and has for years allowed China to dictate what searchers see on their Google results pages. In fact, Google built a special version of its search engine for China that "self-censors."

That engine was built in 2006, and ever since Google has been apparently happy with China. That is, until a Chinese group tried to hack Gmail to see what dissidents were up to. That has Google so peeved it may just walk away from the country.

While I do think taking a stand on this issue when Google is on the wrong side of so many others is disingenuous (and thank you, Eric Schmidt, for giving me an opportunity to use a really big word), I do find the Google move exciting. Walking away from a billion potential users takes guts.

Meanwhile, Microsoft says it will stay in China and respect Chinese laws. Of course, Hotmail didn't get hacked so there's no real impetus.

I'm not sure that a U.S. company should impose U.S. values on a foreign nation. On the other hand, we may not want to allow our technology to suppress others. What's your take? Fire up Gmail, Hotmail or whatever mail and send your thoughts to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

[This post previously said that Google's "self-censoring" Chinese-version search engine was built in 1996. The correct year is 2006. --Ed.]

Posted by Doug Barney on 01/18/2010 at 1:17 PM


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