Brin said he was instinctively opposed to the deal because he was born in the Soviet Union. “Having felt that kind of oppression, I would never have wanted to compromise in that direction.” His opinion changed, he said, when he talked with Chinese people about it. “They’re really proud of what China has accomplished. They feel that as much information as can go into China, the better off it is.”
I have three comments on this, not to debunk, but to balance Sergey’s words:
According to The Guardian, Sergey Brin also said that “On a business level, that decision to censor... was a net negative.” Larry Page however added, “We always consider what to do. But I don’t think we as a company should be making decisions based on too much perception.”
I believe Larry is referring to the perception that Google helped shape with their informal corporate motto they held for years. It was no coincidence that Google in early 2006 removed, and then changed, some of their help entries on censorship, only after people noticed they were not in sync with what Google was doing now. For some time, Google’s own perception clashed with their China move.
“Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense,” the AP quoted Sergey around half a year ago. At the time, Sergey revealed that almost all the Google users in China still used the non-censored Google.com search.
In other news, Google, along with other tech companies as well as human rights organizations, is reaching out to create a code of conduct “to promote freedom of expression and privacy rights.”
[Thanks Brinke Guthrie!]
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