The text of Google’s testimony before Congress. After my brief skim through it, here’s the money quote for me:
The strongest argument for staying out of China is simply that Google should not cross the line of self-censorship, and should not be actively complicit in imposing any limits on access to information. To be clear, the persistence of severe access problems amid fierce competition from local alternatives suggests that the consequence of this approach would be the steady shrinking of Google’s market share ever closer to zero. Without meaningful access to Google, Chinese users would rely exclusively on Internet search engines that may lack Google’s fundamental commitment to maximizing access to information – and, of course, miss out on the many features, capabilities, and tools that only Google provides.
On the other hand, we believe that even within the local legal and regulatory constraints that exist in China, a speedy, reliable Google.cn service will increase overall access to information for Chinese Internet users. We noted, for example, that the vast majority of Internet searches in China are for local Chinese content, such as local news, local businesses, weather, games and entertainment, travel information, blogs, and so forth. Even for political discussions, Chinese users are much more interested in local Chinese Internet sites and sources than from abroad. Indeed, for Google web search, we estimate that fewer than 2% of all search queries in China would result in pages from which search results would be unavailable due to filtering.
Crucial to this analysis is the fact that our new Google.cn website is an additional service, not a replacement for Google.com in China. The Chinese-language Google.com will remain open, unfiltered and available to all Internet users worldwide.
I don’t think Google is doing anything that’s out of the ordinary in a business sense. It wants to get a foothold in a burgeoning market. It makes good business sense. However, good business sense isn’t always good moral sense, and I thought Google would do better than this.
I think Google should be free to conduct business as it sees fit. I don’t think our government should take any active roles in stopping or discouraging this. However, users and people who are deeply concerned about this have every right to get mad and call Google what it is: just another greedy company. Which brings me to point I think I should have made a while ago. Google really is a good company, and its behavior in China isn’t as heinous as Yahoo’s (which has helped 2 Chinese bloggers get jailed). However, I think the reason this agreement to censor the internet for its Chinese users is so shocking/outraging is that Google is supposed to be that quintessential good company for us geek nerd types, and quintessentially good companies don’t censor in the way China wants them to censor.