Google leads the way on China
The world awoke this morning to the news that Google has told China "enough is enough".
In an official Google blog post Google has said that they
...have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. It would seem that Google has noticed a Chinese based attack not only on their own servers but on 10 other companies as well.
Google then announced that they would be taking steps against China.
We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech they said.
Google have gone on to say that they will no longer censor their search results for China. This has had the implication of reigniting the debate on human rights abuses in China.
Google made it clear from the outset that they would not trade unconditionally with China and true to their word are shutting down a profitable arm of their operations because ethics must sometimes be more important than profit. Something Thanet District Council would do well to take notes from.
Keep reading to see how the search Giant is unintentionally making Thanet look bad by doing the right thing.
Here is the pertinent quote from the Google blog post which was written by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer and posted late yesterday afternoon:
We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."
These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
What we can take away from this is that Google started to work with China with full knowledge and acknowledgment of the issues of China and human rights. Specifically the freedom of speech - something we bloggers of Thanet often take for granted. Even so they were heavily criticized for their actions.
Thanet District Council and Partners have made no such acknowledgement of the human rights abuses and suppression of free speech in China and yet have invited the Chinese to come to Thanet in the form of the China Gateway. Even so Thanet seems to be getting away with ignoring the human face of Chinese oppression.
If the China gateway is built we have to asked ourselves as bloggers and voters if Thanet District Council favours money over human rights and as such if we can ever hope to enjoy free and unoppressed speech for very much longer?
Can we, as voters, live with the fact that any economic regeneration that comes from the China Gateway comes at the cost of the freedom of millions of people?
Can we honestly say that as workers we are happy to be employed by a company that does not respect the trade union, the right to speek out or even the right to know what is actually happening?
Can we, as workers, say, hand on heart, that we would trust our emploeers to be fair, honest and just? To treat men and women equally? To deal with work place disputes fairly or evenly?
After all is not Thanet the true home of "Cheap Labour" and lots of it?
The total number of Jobs that the China Gateway will produce is estimated to be less than 600 of which a good portian will be for non British residents (the chineese themselves). Yet we will face not only a threat to our drinking water but masses and masses of lorries on our roads choking our commerce and further removing all trace of a torist industdry from Thanet.
How many people will drive to Westwood Cross from outside the area if they have to try and push through miles of lorry filled gridlock? Who would come to the "Big Event" with so many lorries in the way? How many more hotels and Bed and Breakfasts might have to close and become cheap flats for the unemployed if visitors to the island can not get through?
How many more children and adults might be killed on the roads each year? How safe will it be to live in the villages of Thanet?
How much more expensive will our road repairs be? It will be you and me that pays for that.
The council has gambled all of this without so much as a risk assesment in the hopes that a few hundred Thanet people might get jobs. Once you factor in the lost jobs the choking could cause we might as well say that China gateway will suck jobs from the area and make us poorer.
Added to this all this effort serves to make rich those who abuse the basic rights we currently have available to us. Not just for one hundred and thirty thousand people but for millions of people.
By allowing the China Gateway to be built without any safeguards or option to take sanctions we are giving our tacit approaval for the attrocities and deaths carried out to suppress freedoms we enjoy every day.
I, for one, would not be able to live with this.