I’m on Google overload at the moment. Every single China blog, newspaper, and fortune cookie has information about Google’s current struggles with the Chinese government’s censorship regime and the Gmail hacking that occurred.
Google’s announcement about censorship and its imminent bumrush out of the country (clock is ticking) is certainly exciting, and I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this in the coming days, along with everyone else.
However, I’m already starting to get bored with this initial phase of the story (the only thing that happened today was Google’s announcement) and am looking for an interesting angle.
How about this one? Remember during the Bush Administration when several U.S. telecom companies were accused of handing over private phone records of customers to the U.S. government, who presumably were snooping in there for “terrorists”?
The companies knew they screwed up, because they successfully lobbied the Congress to grant them immunity from any freedom-hating customer who decided to sue the company for improperly handing over private records to a government agency.
As I recall, no one except a few Lefty types (Russ Feingold in the Senate) cared about this at all. Commentators said that the companies were being “patriotic” and that customers should shut the hell up and let the government do what it wanted, since it was data mining “to keep us all safe.”
So tonight I’m sitting here reading a whole lot of commentary about how courageous Google is being for standing up to a government that is violating individual rights. Some of that commentary is coming from U.S. sources. You can bet that folks on the political far Right, who hate “Red” China, are chuckling their asses off and congratulating Google for standing up to the Commies.
So, to sum up:
If Google pushes back after government mandated censorship and, allegedly, arranging for hackers to crack Gmail accounts, then the company is being courageous.
If U.S. telecom companies voluntarily give information to government intelligence agencies that enable clear violations of the U.S. Constitution, that is patriotic.
My head just exploded.
I guess all’s fair in love and war when companies do questionable things in cooperation with their own governments. But when it’s overseas, then suddenly we have a whole new set of rules.