Google & Yahoo's Cyber Crime Doesn't Pay

by Ruud Hein October 18th, 2007 

BBC, Jan. 25, 2006: "Google censors itself for China"

Official Google Blog, Jan. 27, 2006: "[...] creating a local presence, and this week we did so, by launching Google.cn, our website for the People's Republic of China. In order to do so, we have agreed to remove certain sensitive information from our search results. [...]

Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By launching Google.cn and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure within China, we intend to change that."

Testimony of Google Inc. before the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations, Feb. 15, 2006: "[...] we decided to try a different path, a path rooted in the very pragmatic calculation that we could provide more access to more information to more Chinese citizens more reliably by offering a new service � Google.cn � that, though subject to Chinese self-censorship requirements, would have some significant advantages."

Wired, June 15, 2006: "Yahoo 'Strictest' Censor in China"

Wired, Sep. 10, 2005: "Yahoo Gives Up Reporter's E-Mail [...]

Despite government information-sharing requirements and other restrictions, Yahoo and its major rivals have been expanding their presence in mainland China in hopes of reaching more of the country's fast-growing population of Internet users, which now number more than 100 million.

Yahoo paid $1 billion for a 40 percent stake in Alibaba.com, host of the Hangzhou conference, last month."

New York Times, Apr. 23, 2006: "Ma is the hyperkinetic C.E.O. of Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce firm. [...] Yahoo, whose share of the Chinese search-engine market had fallen (according to one academic survey) to just 2.3 percent, had paid $1 billion to buy 40 percent of Alibaba and had given Ma complete control over all of Yahoo's services in China [...] Ma explained Alibaba's position on online speech. "Anything that is illegal in China � it's not going to be on our search engine. Something that is really no good, like Falun Gong?" He shook his head in disgust. "No! We are a business! Shareholders want to make money. Shareholders want us to make the customer happy. Meanwhile, we do not have any responsibilities saying we should do this or that political thing. Forget about it!"

Today

Search Engine Roundtable, Oct. 18, 2007: "China Mad at America, Sends Search Traffic from Google, Yahoo & Microsoft to Baidu"

So… was it worth it?

Lessons

If you exchange favorable public opinion for unfavorable one, shouldn't you at least get some hard, preferably written, assurances as to what your complete sell out will get you?

When you aid an oppressive regime to persecute those who don't favor it, all under the motto "we abide by a country's law", shouldn't you have something more than the "hope" that this will get you back some oppressive government good will?

Is the way a government treats its people perhaps reflective of the way it will treat companies? Perhaps even how it will treat business agreements? Essentially: can you trust that government?

Final Questions

Seeing what has been done with personal information, how do you want to promote personalization?

If the above hasn't helped, how far further will these companies have to go now to get favorable treatment?

Recommended reading:

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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