Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three Cheers to Google for Standing Up to China

Three cheers for Google's momentous decision to no longer go along with the Chinese government's attempt to censor the results of Google searches. The current regime in China has a long and disgraceful record of limiting the access of its own people to international information. Like the worst totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, the Chinese government - which has progressed in many other ways - continues to try to keep its people in a bubble of carefully controlled information.

As the Soviet Union found with samizdat video and even Nazi Germany discovered with the brave White Rose, such attempts at controlling information, of treating your people like children or prisoners, do not work. Sooner or later, information breaks through. Fortunately for freedom, information is inherently corrosive to oppressive regimes.

I was disappointed that Google ever agreed to play ball in the first place with the Chinese government. But Google has made up for this now, with a courageous stand that will ultimately help bring the most populous nation in the world fully into the 21st century. Whatever ad revenue Google may lose by not being currently available in China will be more than made up by the great boost to democracy and freedom of expression that Google's action proclaims.

And, in the long run, likely sooner than later, not only the rest of the world but China will thank Google for pressing it to step up to our new century of information, to become a full participant in our world of new new media, where increasingly anyone anywhere can be not only a consumer but a producer.
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