yeah i skipped part ii – do something about it. i’ll nutshell it below.
back in january, when i first started this project, my first actual post talked a little bit about the controversy between google and the chinese government (and i apologized for it being long – that was rather silly). to give you the cliff notes, china was playing big brother on some gmail accounts, and google considered putting an end censoring their search results, regardless of what that would mean for their chinese enterprise. next came the decision (part ii) – google stopped the censoring, by trying to run a flea flicker by redirecting mainland chinese users to their uncensored hong kong servers. but the great firewall of china would not be thwarted – a simple rework severed google internet connections to hong kong on searches on the democracy movement and other “anti chinese” sentiment. so much for free mainland browsing. now for part iii – inevitable fallout.
google’s search functions now won’t be included on android mobile devices serviced through china unicom – basically the at&t/cingular of china, as long as the decision to not censor searches is active. the chinese central government is still keeping its message to them the same – “you must obey.” i can’t help but picture general zod in my head – not kid zod from the new superman/smallville noise – i mean terence stamp general zod from superman ii in 1980, whose two options, on every situation, were more or less obey or die.
all he asks is that you kneel. “come to me, son of the internet, and kneel before zod.“
china mobile could be next, since other smaller businesses have already parted ways with them, including chinese web portal tom.com. while the small fries really don’t mean too much, china mobile dumping google would leave a pretty powerful sting, since their partnership is what has allowed google to compete with china’s other search powerhouse (and chinese government pet) baidu. the government has made it stunningly clear that those that keep relations with google would not be viewed favorably. next, i’m sure, will be the advertisers. with the heavily gimped google presence in the region, advertisers are all likely to jump ship and head to baidu, where they’ll have a solid number of traffic and ad view. clients of zenith optimedia have already started.
this brand of fear mongering in a business sector that’s supposed to about the expansion and sharing of thoughts and ideas is complete ideological opposite of google’s “don’t be evil” mantra, and sticking to their guns may cost google around $600 million in lost revenue (by to a jpmorgan chase forecast). but other companies may adopting similar policies in the region – as an example, godaddy.com is jumping on the google boat out of china. godaddy.com is one of the world’s biggest domain name registrars, with a lot of their growth, like most companies and industries, being in the chinese and asian markets. they have announced that they will now stop dealing with chinese domain names (i.e. web addresses with a .cn extension). the chinese law now applicable to them is far harsher than just censorship – it’s tantamount to spying on its own citizens. in addition to a name and basic contact information, they now require much more personal data, including physically signed documents, personal and business identification numbers, and a color photograph from the shoulders up. this includes retroactive data collection of its existing customers, and shutting down any site with disagreeable content. godaddy’s response: “we decided we didn’t want to be agents of china.” solid.
it’s very encouraging to see that other tech and internet companies are following their lead and sending a message that doing what’s right is what’s important. google and godaddy both received bipartisan praise from congress for their decisions, namely from senator byron dorgan (d – north dakota) and congressman chris smith (r – new jersey) who at the same time slammed microsoft for censoring their chinese version of bing. rep. smith is also responsible for proposing the global online freedom act in 2009 (GOFA) – the purpose of which is to prevent american firms from being forced to “kneel before zod” and cooperate with goverments that censor media and the internet. it’s still evolving, but it’s a step in the right direction.