Right off the bat: I don’t condone censorship, and I certainly don’t support hacking. But, still, there’s something to be said for China’s alleged actions.
In a nutshell, they are an expression of nationalist and cultural pride and power. (Canadian internet users and companies would do well to learn from this lesson, actually.)
It’s a statement that Google and its ilk can’t just walk into a country and expect things to be American-business-as-usual.
China already has a virtual stranglehold on the US economy. Why should the country be expected to just roll over and let American companies set up shop on the global Mainland and operate with homegrown expectations?
They shouldn’t, and they aren’t. Google and other western companies know full well that when you operate in foreign regions you do so based on local rules, regulations and customs.
Google and the rest of them knew what they were getting themselves into. They’re weren’t as innocent and naïve as they make themselves out to be in current media reports. They knew that getting hacked was a very real prospect, a constant threat.
As if the same threat of corporate espionage doesn’t exist within the borders of the US, and as if the government doesn’t take an interest there, too. As Gob would say: Come on!
So Google and the rest of them feigning surprise and pretending some kind of moral indignation is an incredible load of bunk.
The fact is, this is all about cultural pride.
American companies got info-raped as a result of a gaping hole into an American piece of software (Internet Explorer). In other words, China kicked some Yankee butt. Big time.
That’s gotta hurt. Americans, above all other cultural groups, hate getting an ass-whupping. Especially by the Chinese.
But they couldn’t let it play out that way. Surely this communist dictatorship didn’t best a democratic free nation at its own game? The shame!
So the best cover story the Americans could come up with to try and hide their embarrassment was censorship.
Google stepped up on behalf of the American IT industry and played its cute “never be evil card”. Of course they did. They’re the only internet firm that has ever even pretended to have any sort of moral underpinnings (as hollow as they are).
Nice. But not good enough.
So when you read the spin that North American media is putting on this whole affair, it’s hard not to laugh. The core issue (China kicked our ass) is being sidestepped in favour of the moral high ground (free speech!).
As if free speech exists online in North America.
The sad truth is, the American government covertly controls the global internet through the broad reach of major influential US corporations that operate online. They do so through legal and regulatory mechanisms like the Patriot Act.
If Google were really interested in not being evil, the company would move its base of operations to another country, one that doesn’t have a clue about online information control (Canada would be a good option there). Instead, they remain in the US and permit their information to be controlled by nefarious laws like the Patriot Act and, as a result, secretly accessed by the government.
(It’s not unlikely, for example, that people like Hani Al Telbani are on the Canadian no-fly list as a result of the US government pillaging their Gmail and Yahoo email accounts and then sharing what they find with CSIS. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.)
In a sense, just as there are global tax havens, Google and its ilk should be seeking out global information havens for its constituents in an effort to protect them from government interests.
In the end, I don’t know which is worse, really: the devil you know (China) or the devil you don’t know (the US).
The bottom line of the whole Google v China affair can be summed up in scorboard format. China:1. USA: 0.
But it’s not as if the game is over. Not by a long shot.