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A peek into Google's global farce

By Tang Yuewei (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-03-19 19:17
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The Internet world is not in a peaceful mood, thanks to the drama that Google has started.

Since the beginning of the year, the Internet search company from the United States has made numerous statements that it will quit the Chinese market. On March 10, its executives again announced Google will stop censoring its search content as required by Chinese laws and regulations, even if the decision would shut down Google.cn, Google's Chinese site, and Google itself out of China. Western media also jumped in recently, as they always do, offering headlines such as "Google's negotiations with China broke down, leaving China is all but certain."

In just a matter of a few months, Google has staged a "schizophrenic" farce of "I want to leave China" - "No, I didn't mean it" - "Yes, I do" for web users all around the world. While the Western media focuses on China, why not step back and take a look at the corporate giant's "drama" on the world stage and its so-called corporate integrity?

Let's begin with Germany. First, Google lost the Gmail trademark case there. Then, Google's Street View was criticized and opposed by the German government, not to mention the anti-trust actions taken by German media against Google. Perhaps the meticulousness and practicality of the German people are inherently incongruous with Google's romantic nature. No wonder it often hits walls in this country.

The fact that the US has enjoyed a long special relationship with the United Kingdom doesn't mean that Google will enjoy trouble-free development there. On the contrary, the 450 million pound taxes Google evaded and the name "digital content stealer" it "earned" from the UK press indicated just the opposite.

What about France, the vanguard of liberal traditions? Google's professed "Do no evil" surely square with the French liberal spirit in every aspect? The answer, unfortunately, is no. Google was fined 300,000 euros for book copyrights infringement and lost a case against two companies for trademark violation before being sued by a film company as Google's video-sharing site was suspected of copyright infringement. At the temptations of business interests, "Do no evil" is just a slogan, no more than that.

If Google is realizing that the European market is hard to crack, it is also finding resistance in the Asian market, the latest from the world's most wired nation, South Korea. On March 11, South Korea warned Google it would be penalized if its mobile games content was not regulated. A letter sent to Google stated that "providing unrated games service as stipulated by laws and regulations is indisputably illegal, and we have demanded Google take corrective measures." Google, on the other hand, insists its games service "is open to all in the worll...South Korea is no exception." Will Google stick to its so-called global policy or obey South Korean laws and regulations? We'll see.

Finally, back to the US. Is Google's development in the US, Google's "own soil", a happy story? Not exactly.

After a clerk at a bank in California inadvertently sent an e-mail containing names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and loan information of more than 1,300 customers to a random Gmail address, the bank contacted Google and requested that Google delete the email in the recipient account. Google denied the request at first, citing privacy concerns, but complied after the bank took Google to court.

All these incidents and cases are proof that Google's penchant for instigating farces on the global stage has almost become instinctive in nature and it is no coincidence that Google performed one in China. It is the inevitable result of putting self-interests above the other countries and companies and being blind to business integrity and corporate social responsibility. If Google cannot turn around and correct its errors, it will land itself in serious trouble and become global enemy No. 1.