Google now joins Microsoft and Yahoo! in conspiring with the enemy in the War on Tyranny.
Apologists will likely insist, as they did with Microsoft, that "any web access is good" for China's oppressed citizenry. Hogwash. Google is no different from the Swiss banks that financed the Third Reich, and will in fifty years be apologizing for its myopia just as those collaborators continue to do to this day.
That analysis is wrong for a couple of reasons.
First – The Swiss banks’ customer was the German government directly, they could not have financed their evil without the cooperation of some bank. Google, on the other hand, is dealing with the citizens of China directly. The Chinese government will oppress their citizens with or without Western search engines.
Second – Search engines, even censored search engines, make censorship harder – not easier. Especially when they are powerful engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN. It will be impossible for the Chinese government to filter out every possible way for dissidents to find the information that they want. Sure, they can block primary sites like Western news outlets and major sites that talk about Taiwan independence and student protests and the like. However, they didn’t even think to block sites that talk about In Memory of Ms. Liu Hezhen, a Chinese classis that tells the story of a Chinese warlord that fires on protestors killing one of his students.
The site that discusses this piece of classic literature has served as a proxy to discuss current circumstances in China. Would it have been possible for the people of China to find a site like this without the aid of western search engines? It’s hard to say, but I find it unlikely.
Google is providing 90% of its services to the citizens of China, it is providing part of the tools necessary for the oppressed to become informed, discuss their frustrations (even in code or analogy) with likeminded compatriots and otherwise partake of activities that the Chinese government would probably not approve of.
Knowledge is power, especially in this day and age, Google is providing a portal to get to most of that knowledge. Without companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft the vast array of that knowledge would be mostly unavailable. If these companies start cooperating with Chinese authorities by providing who is searching for content about freedom, democracy and revolution, then they become a tool of the government and not the people and should rightly be condemned by freedom loving peoples everywhere.