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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google & Freedom: China's Ultimatum

I'm sure we all love Google. While various other search engines offer competition for Google's search indexing service of the internet, we all know and use Google regularly. Just recently, the American Dialect Society named 'Google' word of the decade, meaning "a generic form of Google, meaning to search the internet." Google has recently released a phone operating system called Android, and even more recently, a smartphone produced by Google: the Nexus One. Point being, Google is huge. Besides being America's top search engine, Google has numerous branches of it's search engine in other countries, like Canada, Spain, China, etc.
Today, on January 13th, Google publicly announced that there had been a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google." Google went further to say that the attacks primary targets had been Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, as well as "other large industries." We all know that China is a country where the government is very much in control–freedom is very limited. However, the interesting thing that happened following these announcements is that Google took it a step further by giving the Chinese government an ultimatum: find a way that you can legally allow Google China's search engine to be uncensored, free, or else Google is going to end Google China. By declaring this ultimatum publicly, Google has taken an incredible stand for freedom. Google China's results have (since 2006, when Google China was created) been censored, due to demands of the government, however recently, Google has began to let users know when material has been censored–a gutsy move, as it has been put. Google's chief legal officer talked of Google's discomfort regarding censoring information, but recently has said that if they are unable to find a legal way to stop having to censor information, they will "not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China." He went on: "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." Wow. Google stands to lose millions to billions of dollars by taking this step, and while they are very well off financially, this struck a note with me. Google is choosing to value freedom over profit. Yes, I am sure Google has weighed the financial losses and found that they won’t severely hurt the company if they ended Google China, but this is an incredible stand for freedom. As I’ve said before, China now has an ultimatum: allow uncensored search results–admit that they were wrong, and accept Google’s demands–or refuse, and choose to end Google China, something that would also cause embarrassment to the Chinese government. China talks a lot about its goals, what it wants to do, its desire to improve human rights, yet it’s not taken any real action. This ultimatum provides the ability to take that action, and show the world China’s true colors (although they are, for the most part, widely visible). Another possible reason for these actions is because of the chance that the “highly organized attacks that originated from China” could have been those of the Chinese government. Yes, there are many anti-human rights activists in China, but none more against these people than the Chinese government itself. Is Google withholding more information that we don’t know about? Did the Chinese government initiate this attack? We don’t know. We may never. It doesn’t really matter. Google has drawn the line: allow freedom, or its over. 
 As humans, we are entitled to freedom.
As Americans, we know this to be true, considering the amount of freedom we do have today. The boundaries of our freedom can be debated, but overall, we’re the freest country on the planet. We are truly blessed. God has given us a wonderful nation, valuable freedom. And when we stand up to defend the rights of our fellow humans in countries where our God-given freedom is persecuted, we can be a blessing to not only our brethren, but to our Lord. 



“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divide his sheep from the goats, and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the shall King say unto them on his right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in, naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you water? When did we see you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and visited you? And the King shall answer and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, because you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.” ~ Matthew 25:31–40
What beautiful words. I usually end my posts by saying, “God bless America.” How about this: what if we, as Americans, tried to bless God? Let’s all make an effort to serve our Lord Jesus who sacrificed all for us, selflessly. Let’s be selfless and give ourselves wholly unto Jesus. So…on that thoughtful note,

America, bless God.

Isaac