Thursday, January 14, 2010

Google in China and the Korea Precedent

The news is widely circulating all over the world, except within China where the government is heavily censoring it, that Google may consider withdrawing from the Chinese market.   For example, The New York Times is covering this story. In a second story today it provides interesting detail on how the situation reached its present stage.  Although recent attempts, presumably supported by the Chinese government, to hack into accounts of dissidents in China are one reason the withdrawal is being considered, the broader reason is that Chinese government filtering of the internet runs counter to Google's corporate philosophy and effort to "do no evil."
As last Spring's episode with YouTube in Korea illustrated, the decisions of a particular national government do not necessarily dictate what citizens, these days called "netizens" will do.  Last April, when the Korean government declared that it would legally require real-name information to post comments and videos to YouTube, Korean web surfers did not stop posting such material.  In fact, there was an increase in the use of YouTube, but through sites in other countries. (see my earlier post here) China would no doubt face a similar reaction from its netizens should Google withdraw from the market.

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