A very bold social statement, indeed, on behalf of Google calling out Chinese authorites and bringing to light what internationally has been a problem for decades, Chinese human rights. Finally, applying sanctions on misbehaving governments does not have to involve the economic infrastructure alone.
Maybe, the effect of a social sanction via digital and social media will engage enough of a ripple effect to make real meaning for the Chinese government. One clear effect of Google publically removing itself from the largest economic environment and population will be the shame attached again to Chinese social conduct.The digital giants are taking matters into their own hands. Matters that not even the international community have been able to adequately address.
Most countries have committed their democratically elected governments to a social contract of fair play. Further, in our global age that contract has extended it's borders to involve an international contract again of fair play. However, unlike our national rules, there are no internatioanlly applicable binding laws against activities that are found unjust, illegal or inhummane. One might suppose that among the International Court of Justice, the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the G8 something involving a binding international rule of law regarding human rights should be codified.
There is a political and social theory so applicable to this story that this commentary should not end without it's mentioning. A principle desireable enough to the masses that it has the ablitity to permeate and undermine what were once great foundations. The Utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham-ian principle of the "greater good for the greatest number of people" is the application of ethics to actions of the state, maximizing actions as determined by their moral worth.In 2006 when Google first launched google.cn, the corporate giant was, not surprisingly, willing to sacrafice a tidbit of it's underlying product of free speech so as to bring a greater proportion of information to China. The rules on this stipulation were transparent and limited and subject to change.
Seems that to Google, the moral actions of sacrificing some freedom of information for more freedom of information was a greater good. Unfortunately, that something was basic human rights and it is not surprising that a corporate giant like Google was willing to auction it with a greater good bid. At least in our society, the freedom of information is a basic human right and although there will be much debate about this news of Google and China,
I say good for Google!
*UPDATE* Google has taken further steps on this contentious issue as published in the
New York Times on March 22, 2010.
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