Jan 162010

Google has to be feeling a lot of pressure from both sides of the issue of governmental censorship in China. Now would be an especially excellent time for Congress to pass the Global Online Freedom Act in order to support Google in its efforts not to be evil.

There are those who sneer at Google for waiting until now to act, after its business interests have been undermined by hackers. They say it’s profit more than heroism that’s motivating Google. But I argue that it’s good when the profit motive is aligned with the desire to do the right thing. We ought to have more of that.

There are those who say we should mind our own business and let China handle its affairs in its own way. Companies doing business in other countries need to obey the laws of those countries. But some laws are beyond the pale.

And it’s not a matter that concerns China alone. It creates some very bad corporate habits when American companies participate in oppression in other countries. When agents of our own government approach Google to spy on our own dissidents or to censor content, whether such approaches are made in underhanded ways or openly, it would be good for Google and all of us to recoil in horror. But if Google is already are in the bad habit of acceding to such requests in China, a lot of the moral energy to resist here in the U.S. will have been dissipated.

Pass the Global Online Freedom Act.

H/T to Kathryn Lopez