Tech companies should leave restrictive countries

26 01 2010

Last week, Google broke the news that they had been hacked and that the attack originated from China. Since Google has been careful to not keep any of its servers or data in China, opting to store everything on servers in the United States, it is likely that the Chinese government itself is responsible for the attack. Google responded to this by announcing publicly that they would no longer be filtering content on Google.cn searches in compliance with Chinese laws. This essentially has ended Google’s corporate presence in China for the foreseeable future.

Maybe Google did the right thing here. It is not the only corporation that has submitted to the Chinese authorities in order to have a presence and marketshare there. As part of the Golden Shield Project, anything that is deemed inappropriate or subversive on the internet by the Chinese government is blocked. Since Facebook and Twitter are exceptionally hard to filter, those sites are blocked out entirely.

By leaving its 30% marketshare of the Chinese search market, Google essentially took a financial hit so that it could redeem its moral standing to a degree.

If internet and technology companies want to send a message to the entire world that they will stand up for free speech on the internet, then they should simply leave any country that uses internet censorship to repress its own people.

While China is fairly tech-savvy and its own native search engine, Baidu, would likely pick up the slack, the tech companies that leave would at least be able to keep themselve true to the spirit of the internet: an open, free forum for public discussion and communication.

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