What an Obedient Google

For the first time in a few weeks, Google has once again hit the headlines. Recently, 10 countries, including the U.K., France and Canada, accused Google of inadequate protection of privacy. In response to this, on April 20, Google disclosed the number of times the company had been required by governments to provide user data or to remove some of its search results, the Washington Times reported on April 21.

According to the statistics provided by Google, from July 1 to December 31, 2009, the Brazilian government was at the top of the list in terms of requests for user data (3,663 times), followed by the U.S. (3,580 times). As for the removal of search results, Brazil again made its way to the top (291 requests), followed by Germany, India and the U.S. Due to legal concerns, China was not included in these lists, claimed the company.

Google’s fight back has been really strong. With those statistics in hand, Google might stop to wonder: “Wow, just hold your horses and take look at what you have been doing.”

Google could not have forgotten that, just a month before, the company decided to withdraw its business from mainland China. And the reason was as simple as that — government censors. Seizing “the moral high ground,” Google declared that it was determined to provide all users with “uncensored services.” Does that mean the company will close its business in America, where internet services are strictly controlled?

The statistics also suggested that, in countries like the U.S., Germany and Brazil, 80 percent of the related content had been removed by request. In Turkey, Google masked videos that were considered to be offensive to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the country. In Germany, Google blocked links that advocated Nazism and denied the Holocaust. Back in the U.S., Google even closely work with the Central Intelligence Agency. Search histories are preserved permanently for reference.

But why was it that the otherwise obedient Google became so obstinate in China? It was because the company held a double standard. On April 19, the company posted on its blog, “We don’t want to engage in political censorship, this is especially true in countries like China and Vietnam.”

“Some democratically-elected governments in Europe and elsewhere do have national laws that prohibit certain types of content. Our policy is to comply with the laws of these democratic governments.”

Google has made its position clear — we do not conform to the laws of China and Vietnam, but only to those of Western countries. In fact, what Google complies with are not the laws, but the ideologies. Google made it clear in its blog post that whether or not the content will be removed is based on “our policies.” In Google’s eyes, the policies of the company outplace the laws of the countries in which it is operating; these policies are taken as final.

What is their “policy” then? It may be “Don’t be evil,” the banner that is flaunted by the company. But what is the criteria for good and evil? Neither Google nor the U.S. will be the only ones to have the final say; otherwise, the criteria would be whether it is good for the United States or not.

What Google’s statistics tell us is that they are not saying no to censorship, not even to political censorship. In fact, they are saying no to diversified social systems and to the places where U.S. cultural hegemony cannot reach.

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