There’s been so much criticism over Google China, it would be impossible not to examine it as a case study for any number of things. I will address the larger debate over the complicity with censorship, but wanted to touch on a point that has been overlooked by many of Google’s critics: Google’s decision not to deploy mail and blog services to China for fear of state retribution against critics.
In an age where Citigroup thinks nothing of shipping all of my financial information over to India for processing without much regard for it’s protections in country, I find it heartening to know that Google actually put thought into where it was going to put its data. Since China requires services/servers offered in the China domain to be in-country it would have been trivially easy for the authorities to simply seize the servers in order to get at the information if they weren’t already jury-rigging the legal system to do so. Google pondered this possibility and chose to take a hit on the business side of this in order to sleep at night.
Good move. I suspect it wasn’t an easy one, but it was most definately the right one.
On Friday I’ll discuss why I think Google made a key blunder in their searching agreement with Chinese authorities, and on Saturday I’ll tell you how I think Google could have avoided this entire PR fiasco.