Do not do any additional research. Use just the four sources provided. The paper should be approximately 3-4 pages, double-spaced. Be sure to use correct in-text APA citations for information taken from the source documents. Begin your paper with a 150-word (maximum) summary of the actions Google took in China in 2006, 2010, and 2012. Note: this summary should describe briefly what happened, not explain why. Your paper should continue with an analysis of Google’s actions. It must address the following topics. Use headings for each section – do not include the text of the questions. (1) Who were the four most important stakeholders that Google top management needed to consider in their decision making about whether or not to expand into China? Explain why each stakeholder group is important and describe what each might expect from Google top management. (2) From an ethical perspective, did Google make the right choice initially in 2006 – to launch Google.cn and censor the search results? Why or why not? Explain your reasoning. Be specific. How did Google management communicate its decision? Do you think this was effective? Why or why not? Be specific. (3) From an ethical perspective, did Google make the right choice in responding to what happened in 2010? Why or why not? Explain your reasoning. Be specific. How did Google management communicate its decision? Do you think this was effective? Why or why not? Be specific. (4) From an ethical perspective, did Google make the right choice in June 2012 – by adding a new feature to searches going through its Chinese-language site in Hong Kong? Why or why not? Explain your reasoning. Be specific. How did Google management communicate its decision? Do you think this was effective? Why or why not? Be specific. Reference list: Baker, J.S.& Tang, L., (2013), “Google’s Dilemma in China”. In S. May (Ed.) Case Studies in Organizational Communication: Ethical Perspectives and Practices (pp. 285-294). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Drummond, D. (January 12, 2010), “A New Approach to China,” Google corporate blog, retrieved from http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-approac… McDonald, J. (June 1, 2012), “Google Helps Chinese Avoid Censorship,” USA Today, retrieved from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/201… Schrage, E. (February 15, 2006), Testimony of Google Inc. before the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations, retrieved from http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/testimony-i…Google’s Dilemma in China
Jane Stuart Baker and Lu Tang
This case explores whether we should use one set of universal ethics that is applicable to all
cultures or multiple ethical standards situated in the diverse legal, cultural, and social
contexts of various nation states. In an era of globalization, it raises questions about how
global companies should deal with conflicting ethical views from divergent stakeholders
around the world. The case also seeks to examine the dilemmas of aligning organizational
values and practices in other parts of the world that may not share such ethics.
The process of globalization is fundamentally changing the ways corporations do business
today (Castells, 1996). While there is a lack of consensus on the causes, conceptualization,
and effects of globalization, Held, McCrew, Goldblatt, and Perraton (1999) identified the
following four aspects as its defining characteristics: (1) the extensity of the networks that
connect different countries, people, and organizations in the world; (2) the intensity of the
interaction in these networks; (3) the speed with which information, capital, people, and
products move around the globe; and (4) the impact of these trends on different communities.
Within the organizational realm, scholars have been examining two concurrent trends by
which globalization has affected today’s organizations: convergence and divergence (Stohl,
2001). The convergence approach emphasizes how the social, economic, and technological
infrastructures of the global market lead organizations to operate and communicate similarly
in the global context. On the other hand, the divergence perspective focuses on the
heterogeneity of organizational practices that are brought about because of different cultures
around the world. At the center of this tension is the dialectical relationship between
globalization and localization. Great attention has been paid to examining how today’s
organizations globalize or localize their practices and communication to be successful in this
new era of globalization.
As corporations are increasingly integrated into the global marketplace, stakeholders such as
governments, international nongovernmental organizations, employees, and customers have
scrutinized the ethics applied to their practices. The concept of ethics is problematized by
globalization as different cultures bring different concepts of ethics (Scherer & Palazzo,
2008). What constitutes ethical practices for today’s corporations? Should there be one set of
universal ethics that is applicable to all cultures or multiple ethical standards situated in the
different legal, cultural, and social contexts of different nation-states? How should global
companies deal with conflicting ethics and requirements from their different
stakeholders around the world? Should they adhere to their own ethical standards developed
in the context of their home country and culture or adapt their ethical standards to meet the
local social and legal environments?
Caught in this dilemma is Google, the largest search engine in the world. Google has no
doubt influenced our use of the Internet as a source of information. According to market
research source Experian Hitwise (2010), Google accounted for over 70% of total Internet
searches in the United States during June 2010. Along with the success of its business,
Google has presented itself as a highly ethical company. Its corporate philosophy features the
statement, “You can make money without doing evil” (Google, 2011).
Despite Google’s official stance toward this philosophy, the company’s behavior—
specifically, the 2006 launch of its China-based search engine, Google.cn—has drawn
skepticism from human rights organizations and the U.S. government. Since the launch,
Google has conceded to China’s censorship laws by agreeing to filter out politically sensitive
terms, such as Falun Gong, democracy, and Tiananmen, from its search results. Human rights
activists and political leaders have, in turn, accused Google of betraying its espoused ethical
standards by ignoring the value of freedom of expression and information access. In the years
that have followed, Google has responded in various ways, shifting its rhetorical strategies as
it has attempted to address changing needs.
Google has not faced such ethical challenges alone. Technology firms such as Yahoo!,
Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and Sun Microsystems have all faced similar criticisms by
congressional leaders and human rights organizations, who criticized the technology
companies for lacking integrity and urging them to take a stand for human rights when doing
business abroad. While the ethics of any of these companies would be worth further
examining, Google presents a particularly interesting case because the company has
staunchly defended its business practices as ethical in spite of opposition by some
case introduces the controversy around Google’s China-based search engine Google.cn and
how Google and different stakeholders have addressed and negotiated this controversy.
Excerpts from Google’s official statements, such as company blogs and testimonies before
the U.S. Senate and Congress, are presented to bring to light the ethical dilemmas the
company has faced between 2006 and 2010.
On January 27, 2006, Google published a blog explaining that Chinese users of Google.com
were experiencing slow and often unavailable service. The blog stated that Google was not
proud of the service it was able to provide and argued for the need to create a local search
engine, Google.cn, based in China. The company acknowledged that Chinese law would
require that search results on this local version of Google be censored, which would violate
the company’s commitment to free information access. Nonetheless, Google used the blog as
a forum for aligning the decision to launch Google.cn with the fulfillment of its corporate
mission: We ultimately reached our decision by asking ourselves which course would most
effectively further Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it
universally useful and accessible. Or, put simply: how can we provide the greatest access to
information to the greatest number of people?
Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search
at all to a fifth of the world’s population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our
critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying
to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By
launching Google.cn and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure
within China, we intend to change that. (McLaughlin, 2006)
On February 15, shortly after the official launch of Google.cn, the Committee on
International Relations of U.S. Congress held a hearing in which private companies, scholars,
and government leaders were invited to make statements regarding Internet freedom in China
and the roles to be played by American technology firms. Eliot Schrage, Google’s vice
president for corporate communication and public affairs, presented a testimony that further
rationalized Google’s decision to launch the Chinabased search engine. Schrage (2006) first
defended Google’s interest in maintaining a business relationship with China and explained
that Google had lost market share in China because of its commitment to maintaining the
uncensored Google.com for Chinese users:
Operating without a local presence, Google’s slowness and unreliability appears to have been
a major—perhaps the major—factor behind our steadily declining market share. According to
third-party estimates, Baidu has gone from 2.5% of the search market in 2003 to 46% in
2005, while Google has dropped to below 30% (and falling).
However, Schrage (2006) also acknowledged that the company’s desire to compete with its
Chinese counterparts like Baidu created an ethical dilemma:
There is no question that, as a matter of business, we want to be active in China. . . . It would
be disingenuous to say that we don’t care about that because, of course, we do. We are a
business with stockholders, and we want to prosper and grow in a highly competitive world.
At the same time, acting
ethically is a core value for our company, and an integral part of our business culture. Our
slowness and unreliability has meant that Google is failing in its mission to make the world’s
information accessible and useful to Chinese Internet users. Only a local presence would
allow Google to resolve most, if not all, of the latency and access issues. But to have a local
presence in China would require Google to get an Internet Content Provider license,
triggering a set of regulatory requirements to filter and remove links to content that is
considered illegal in China.
Schrage (2006) then framed Google’s dilemma in terms of two choices:
 stay out of China, or  establish a local presence in China—either of which would entail
some degree of inconsistency with our corporate mission. In assessing these options, we
looked at three fundamental Google commitments:
a. Satisfy the interests of users,
b. Expand access to information, and
c. Be responsive to local conditions.
Based on the previous considerations, Schrage presented Google’s decision, which entailed
three parts. First, the company had opted to launch Google.cn and censor the search results
according to Chinese law. Second, Google had begun to disclose the fact that it was filtering
the results “in a step toward greater transparency.” Third, Google had promised not to launch
a Chinese version of Gmail and Blogger so that the company would not be faced with
requests by China’s government to release private and confidential information sent and
posted by users.
Despite Google’s attempts to align its business practices and ethical standards, representatives
of human rights organizations presented a very different picture of Internet access in
countries such as China. Timothy Kumar of Amnesty International directly accused
technology companies of complying with foreign governments’ censorship laws at the
expense of human rights:
Several international companies provide Internet services in China, and many have
headquarters within the United States. Some of these companies, including Cisco Systems
and Sun Microsystems, have helped to build the infrastructure that makes Internet censorship
possible while others, including Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google are increasingly complying
with government demands to actively censor Chinese users by limiting the information they
can access. (Kumar, 2006)
Speaking directly to Google, Kumar drew attention to the recent launch of the company’s
Chinese search engine. Quoting Secretary General Irene Khan, Kumar pointed out
discrepancies between Google’s practices in China and its stated commitment to free
information access: Whether succumbing to demands from Chinese officials or anticipating
government concerns, companies that impose restrictions that infringe on human rights are
being extremely short-sighted. The agreements the industry enters into
with the Chinese government, whether tacit or written, go against the IT industry’s claim that
it promotes the right to freedom of information of all people, at all times, everywhere.
Tom Malinowski, representative for Human Rights Watch, another influential human rights
organization, also protested the actions of technology companies. In Malinowski’s (2006)
testimony, he presented common arguments made by the Internet corporations in defense of
censorship and then attacked them:
[An] argument made by some companies is that censorship is acceptable if Chinese Internet
users are honestly told what is happening. This is the argument that Google is making,
because the Chinese Google site includes a disclaimer at the bottom informing users that
some information is being censored. But
is Google really being honest and open about what it is doing? Google is not disclosing a
crucial piece of information—it is not saying how its censorship system works. It is not
telling users what material—what sites, words, and ideas— the Chinese government is telling
it to block. [Another] argument that companies, including Google, make is that the sites they
remove from their search engine results are in any case blocked by the Chinese government,
and thus that their Chinese users are not being denied anything to which they previously had
access. But this is not entirely true. If you punch in the words “human rights” on Google, you
will find links to literally millions of websites, from the home pages of NGOs, to government
sites, to newspapers, universities, and blogs in scores of countries around the world.
THE END OF CENSORSHIP?
Despite the challenging remarks made by human rights organizations at the hearing, Google
went about business as usual until 2010, when an attack on Gmail accounts of human rights
activists in China forced executives to change strategies. On January 12, Google’s senior
management published a blog entry in response to these attacks, announcing the company’s
plan to end the censoring of search results. David Drummond, senior vice president of
corporate development, stated, “We have decided we are no longer willing to continue
censoring our results on Google.cn” and indicated that Google would exit China if the
Chinese government would not agree to loosen its Internet censorship and filtering
requirements (Drummond, 2010a).
On March 2nd, at the U.S. Senate hearing on Global Internet Freedom and the Rule of Law,
Nicole Wong, vice president and deputy general counsel of Google, redefined the relationship
between business and ethics. While in the 2006 testimony, business and ethics were framed as
contradicting each other, at least in the context of Google’s operation in China, Google’s
2010 testimony positioned the two as indispensible to one other. Censorship could indeed
hurt business and human rights simultaneously:
The debate on Internet censorship is, of course, not only about human rights. At issue is the
continued economic growth spurred by a free and globally accessible Internet. . . . When a
foreign government pursues censorship policies in a manner that favors domestic Internet
companies, this goes against basic international trade principles of non-discrimination and
maintaining a level playing field. Local competitors gain a business advantage, and
consumers are deprived of the ability to choose the best services for their needs. And when a
government disrupts an Internet service in its entirety—e.g., blocking an entire website
because of concerns with a handful of user-generated postings—the government is restricting
trade well-beyond what would be required even if it had a legitimate public policy
justification for the censorship. (Wong, 2010)
Wong (2010) also reiterated Internet censorship as a global problem and called for the
collaboration of the U.S. government and corporations in promoting an international code of
conduct to respond to foreign governments who demanded censorship:
Ultimately, governments that respect the right to online free expression should work together
to craft new international rules to better discipline government actions that impede the free
flow of information over the Internet. We need forward-looking rules that provide maximum
protection against the trade barriers
of the new technology era. On the multilateral human rights front, enforcing and supporting
the mechanisms of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and others under
the UN system (e.g., the UN Human Rights Committee) to demand accountability from
governments for Internet censorship is helpful. At the very least, these mechanisms can be
better used to shine light on government
Beginning March 23rd, Google.cn visitors were automatically redirected to the uncensored
Google.com.hk. Drummond commented on this new approach:
We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from
Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced— it’s entirely legal and
will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope
that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at
any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access
issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that
everyone can see which Google services are available in China. (Drummond, 2010b)
Various human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, now praised Google for its
stance on censorship and freedom of expression and urged other Internet companies to follow
in Google’s footsteps. Human Rights Director Arvind Ganesan declared the following:
Google’s decision to offer an uncensored search engine is an important step to challenge the
Chinese government’s use of censorship to maintain its control over its citizens. . . . This is a
crucial moment for freedom of expression in China, and the onus is now on other major
technology companies to take a firm stand against censorship. (Human Rights Watch, 2010)
However, other commentators were less optimistic that Google’s decision would have any
real impact on improving human rights regarding information access. Cynthia Wong, an
attorney at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington responded, “Google’s
move is really commendable but I don’t think it will have a major impact on China’s system
of filtering” (Farrell, 2010)
A REVISED APPROACH
In a June 28, 2010, blog, Google announced that it was rescinding on its strong position
toward redirecting users of Google.cn to Google.com.hk. Believing that the renewal of its
operating license was at stake, representatives posted a blog explaining that the company had
relaxed its policy and that instead of automatically redirecting users to Google.com. hk, they
would be taken to a landing page, at which time they would be given the option to continue
on to the censored Google.cn or opt for the uncensored Google.com.hk:
It’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find
the redirect [to the uncensored Google.hk] unacceptable—and that if we continue redirecting
users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed . . . we have started taking a
small percentage of [users] to a landing
page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk . . . which we can provide locally without
filtering. This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on
Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page. (Drummond, 2010c)
Google updated its blog on July 9, 2010, to announce that the Chinese government had
indeed granted its request for a renewal of the Internet content provider (ICP) license based
on the condition that users would not automatically be directed to Google.com.hk but would
be given the choice between the Hong Kong version of Google and the censored Google.cn.
MOVING TOWARD A THEORETICAL APPROACH OF CORPORATE
Google’s move demonstrates its attempt to be accountable to multiple stakeholders
simultaneously. The company’s initial decision to launch the China-based search engine can
be interpreted as the company’s attempt to be accountable to its shareholders. However, when
this practice attracted criticism from other stakeholders, such as the general public in the
United States, human rights organizations, and the U.S. government, the company adapted
both its business and rhetorical strategies to respond to these stakeholders. How about
Google’s users in China? What has the company done to be accountable to them?
In examining Google’s practices and rhetoric regarding Internet censorship, the company
appeared to face several dilemmas. Carroll (1991) proposed a widely used model describing
corporations’ social responsibility. At the most basic level, the corporation should focus on
economic goals: maximizing profits, minimizing losses, and streamlining for efficiency. At
the legal level, corporations are ensuring that while they are maximizing profits they are also
abiding by local, state, and national laws and working cooperatively with regulatory agencies
to avoid engaging in practices that society considers wrong. At the legal level, the business is
fulfilling its contract with society but going no further. The third level focuses on the
corporation’s ethical responsibilities to its stakeholders and to society to produce goods and
services that do not cause harm and that are produced through fair and just means. At this
level, the corporation chooses not to engage in certain practices even though they may be
legal if doing so would cause societal harm. Carroll’s model depicts the highest set of goals
as philanthropic pursuits. These transcend mottos such as Google’s well-known “Don’t be
evil” mantra and actually improve society, the community, or the environment in ways that
transcend the core service or goods that the business provides. In managing the controversy
around Internet censorship, Google addressed several levels of social responsibility in
Carroll’s model, namely economic responsibility, legal responsibility, and ethical
One challenge Google faced was how to make compatible its economic, legal, and ethical
goals. In particular, Google sought to increase profits by exploiting the vast market in China
but also felt bound by the ethical responsibility of adhering to values such as human rights
and freedom of expression. Another dilemma that Google faced was deciding how best to
manage the contradiction between its ethical standards for Internet freedom with calls for
censorship from the Chinese government. Google has clearly faced ongoing difficulties
during its tenure in China. No choice has been straightforward, and with every decision the
company has made, it has risked alienating one group of stakeholders in order to satisfy
another. The case highlights the importance of attending to multiple definitions of ethical
responsibility simultaneously and the inherent difficulties in doing so. Moreover,
organizations face new obstacles when seeking to apply ethical standards from their local
culture in an international setting, as such standards are not always held universally.
Carroll, A. B. (1991). The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: Toward the moral
of organizational stakeholders. Business Horizons, 34, 39–48.
Castells, M. (1996). The rise of the network society. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Drummond, D. (2010a, January 12). A new approach to China. [Weblog comment]. Retrieved
Drummond, D. (2010b, March 22). A new approach to China: An update. [Weblog comment].
Retrieved from http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/new-approach-to-china-update.html
Drummond, D. (2010c, June 28). An update on China. [Weblog comment]. Retrieved from
Experian Hitwise. (2010). Experian Hitwise reports Bing share of searches increases 7
percent for June
2010 [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.hitwise.com/us/press-center/pressreleases/googlesearches-jun-10/
Farrell, M. B. (2010, March 25). Google China move puts pressure on Microsoft, Yahoo.
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Held, D., McGrew, A., Goldblatt, D., & Perraton, J. (1999). Global transformations: Politics,
and culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Human Rights Watch. (2010, March 22). China: Google decision shows government
Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/03/22/china-google-withdrawalshowsgovernment-intransigence.
Kumar, T. (2006, February 15). Testimony of Amnesty International before the Subcommittee
on Asia and
the Pacific, and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International
Committee on International Relations, United States House of Representatives.
Malinowski, T. (2006, February 15). Testimony of Human Rights Watch before the
Asia and the Pacific, and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and
Operations. Committee on International Relations, United States House of Representatives.
McLaughlin, A. (2006, January 27). Google in China. [Weblog comment]. Retrieved from
Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2008). Globalization and corporate social responsibility. In A.
A. McWilliams, J. Moon, & D. S. Siegel (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of corporate social
(pp. 413–431). New York: Oxford University Press.
Schrage, E. (2006, February 15). Testimony of Google Inc. before the Subcommittee on Asia
Pacific, and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International
Committee on International Relations, United States House of Representatives.
Stohl, C. (2001). Globalizing organizational communication. In F. M. Jablin & L. Putnam
new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods
323–378). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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Internet Freedom and the Rule of Law. Retrieved from http://judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/10-0302Wong%27sTestimony.pdf
A new approach to China
Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 Google Blog
Posted by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer
Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a
regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our
corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual
property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a
security incident–albeit a significant one–was something quite different.
First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at
least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses–including the Internet,
finance, technology, media and chemical sectors–have been similarly targeted. We are
currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the
relevant U.S. authorities.
Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the
Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe
their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been
accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account
was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.
Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered
that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates
of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These
accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via
phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.
We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and
architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of
individual users, we would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware
programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their
web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and
emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more
here about our cyber-security recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these
kinds of attacks can read this Report to Congress (PDF) by the U.S.-China Economic and Security
Review Commission (see p. 163-), as well as a related analysis (PDF) prepared for the
Commission, Nart Villeneuve’s blog and this presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.
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. In the last two decades, China’s economic reform programs and its
citizens’ entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty.
Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the
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.
The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know
that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move
was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of
our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is
today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.
Update: Added a link to another referenced report in paragraph 5.
Retrieved on 3/3/15 from http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-approach-tochina.html
Testimony of Google Inc. before the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and the Subcommittee
on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations
Committee on International Relations, United States House of Representatives
February 15, 2006
Vice President, Global Communications
and Public Affairs, Google Inc.
My name is Elliot Schrage and I am the vice president for global communications and public affairs at
Google. My role is to help shape and explain the decisions Google makes as a company in its efforts to
provide global access to information as quickly, conveniently, usefully, and comprehensively as possible.
I’m here today to answer any and all questions you might have about how we are attempting to do
business in China. I certainly don’t – my colleagues certainly don’t – expect everyone to agree with our
decision to launch a new service inside this challenging, complex, promising market. I hope my testimony
will help explain how we came to our decision, what we’re seeking to accomplish, and how we’re seeking
to accomplish it.
At the outset, I want to acknowledge what I hope is obvious: Figuring out how to deal with China has
been a difficult exercise for Google. The requirements of doing business in China include self-censorship
– something that runs counter to Google’s most basic values and commitments as a company. Despite
that, we made a decision to launch a new product for China – Google.cn – that respects the content
restrictions imposed by Chinese laws and regulations. Understandably, many are puzzled or upset by our
decision. But our decision was based on a judgment that Google.cn will make a meaningful – though
imperfect – contribution to the overall expansion of access to information in China.
Until a few weeks ago, Google has been serving Chinese Internet users the same way we serve all
Internet users worldwide since the company was founded in 1999. Though we had no operations or
employees in China, we were able to provide a Chinese-language version of Google.com that, thanks to
the global nature of the Internet, could easily be reached by users inside China. In 2002, we started to
learn that Google was sporadically unavailable to Chinese users. In the fall of that year, we awoke one
morning to emails from Google users in China informing us that our service was completely unavailable.
We faced a choice at that point: hold fast to our commitment to free speech (and risk a long-term cut-off
from our Chinese users), or compromise our principles by entering the Chinese market directly and
subjecting ourselves to Chinese laws and regulations. We stood by our principles, which turned out to be
a good choice, as access to Google.com was largely restored within about two weeks.
However, we soon discovered new problems. Many queries, especially politically sensitive queries, were
not making it through to Google’s servers. And access became often slow and unreliable, meaning that
our service in China was not something we felt proud of. Even though we weren’t doing any selfcensorship, our results were being filtered anyway, and our service was being actively degraded on top of
that. Indeed, at some times users were even being redirected to local Chinese search engines
Nevertheless, we continued to offer our service from outside China while other Internet companies were
entering China and building operations there.
A bit more than a year ago, we decided to take a serious look at China and re-assess whether our
approach there was the best strategy. We spent a lot of time talking to Chinese Internet experts and
users, scholars and academics inside and outside China, respected “China hands,” human rights groups
and activists, government officials, business leaders, as well as our own Chinese employees. From those
discussions, we reached the conclusion that perhaps we had been taking the wrong path. Our search
results were being filtered; our service was being crippled; our users were flocking to local Chinese
alternatives; and, ultimately, Chinese Internet users had less access to information than they would have
Let me dig a bit deeper into the analytic framework we developed for China. Google’s objective is to make
the world’s information accessible to everyone, everywhere, all the time. It is a mission that expresses two
(a) First, our business commitment to satisfy the interests of users, and by doing so to build a leading
company in a highly competitive industry; and
(b) Second, our policy conviction that expanding access to information to anyone who wants it will make
our world a better, more informed, and freer place.
Some governments impose restrictions that make our mission difficult to achieve, and this is what we
have encountered in China. In such a situation, we have to add to the balance a third fundamental
(c) Be responsive to local conditions.
So with that framework in mind, we decided to try a different path, a path rooted in the very pragmatic
calculation that we could provide more access to more information to more Chinese citizens more reliably
by offering a new service – Google.cn – that, though subject to Chinese self-censorship requirements,
would have some significant advantages. Above all, it would be faster and more reliable, and would
provide more and better search results for all but a handful of politically sensitive subjects. We also
developed several elements that distinguish our service in China, including:
Disclosure to users — We will give notification to Chinese users whenever search results have
Protection of user privacy — We will not maintain on Chinese soil any services, like email, that
involve personal or confidential data. This means that we will not, for example, host Gmail or
Blogger, our email and blogging tools, in China.
Continued availability of Google.com — We will not terminate the availability of our unfiltered
Chinese-language Google.com service.
Many, if not most, of you here know that one of Google’s corporate mantras is “Don’t be evil.” Some of our
critics – and even a few of our friends – think that phrase arrogant, or naïve or both. It’s not. It’s an
admonition that reminds us to consider the moral and ethical implications of every single business
decision we make.
We believe that our current approach to China is consistent with this mantra. Our hope is that our mix of
measures, though far from our ideal, would accomplish more for Chinese citizens’ access to information
than the alternative. We don’t pretend that this is the single “right” answer to the dilemma faced by
information companies in China, but rather a reasonable approach that seems likely to bring our users
greater access to more information than any other search engine in China. And by serving our users
better, we hope it will be good for our business, too, over the long run.
To be clear, these are not easy, black-and-white issues. As our co-founder Sergey Brin has said, we
understand and respect the perspective of people who disagree with our decision; indeed, we recognize
that the opposing point of view is a reasonable one to hold. Nonetheless, in a situation where there are
only imperfect options, we think we have made a reasonable choice. It’s a choice that has generated
enormous attention – vastly more, indeed, than our earlier decisions not to cross the line of selfcensorship. We hope that the ensuing dialogue will lead to productive collaboration among businesses
and governments to further our shared aim of expanding access to information worldwide.
We think we have made a reasonable decision, though we cannot be sure it will ultimately be proven to
be the best one. With the announcement of our launch of Google.cn, we’ve begun a process that we
hope will better serve our Chinese users. We also hope that we will be able to add new services, if
circumstances permit. We are also aware that, for any number of reasons, this may not come to pass.
Looking ahead, 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 I’ve outlined above, we will not
hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.
In the remainder of my written testimony below, I set forth the situation in China as we see it, the debate
over the options we confronted, the substance of what Google has decided to do there, the reasoning
behind that decision, and some ideas for both industry and governmental actions that could make a
useful contribution to the objective of expanding access to information in every corner of the globe.
The Big Picture: The Internet is Transforming China
The backdrop to Google’s decision to launch Google.cn is the explosive growth of the Internet in China.
To put it simply, the Internet is transforming China for the better. And the weight of the evidence suggests
that the Internet is accelerating and deepening these positive trends, even in an imperfect environment.
Viewed broadly, information and communication technology – including the Internet, email, instant
messaging, web logs, bulletin boards, podcasts, peer-to-peer applications, streaming audio and video,
mobile telephones, SMS text messages, MMS photo-sharing, and so on – has brought Chinese citizens a
greater ability to read, discuss, publish and communicate about a wider range of topics, events, and
issues than ever before.
There are currently more than 105 million Internet users in China.1 Nearly half of them have access to
broadband connections – an increase of 41% since 2003.2 Even so, Internet deployment in China is at a
very early stage, reaching only about 8% of the population.3 Among those under 24 years of age, more
than 80% are Internet users.4 By 2010, China will have more than 250 million Internet users.5 And
already, there are more than 350 million mobile phones, a number growing by roughly 57 million
A recent and well-respected study by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS)
documents some interesting, and perhaps surprising, findings about the views of Chinese Internet users:7
Most Chinese Internet users believe that the Internet is changing politics in China. Internet users
tend to agree that it will increase political transparency and expand discourse: 63% believe that
citizens will learn more about politics by going online, 54% of users believe the Internet provides
more opportunities for criticizing the government, and 45% believe that the Internet provides more
opportunities to express political views.
Large majorities of Chinese believe that certain kinds of Internet content, including pornography
and violence, should be controlled. However, only 7.6% believe that political content on the
Internet should be controlled.
By a 10:1 margin, Chinese Internet users believe that the Internet will make the world a better,
rather than worse, place.
Based on its results, the CASS Internet Survey concludes that “the political impact of the Internet is more
significant than it is in other countries. The impact can be seen not only in the relationship between
government and citizens but also among people who share similar political interests. Thus, we can predict
that as Internet becomes more popular in China, the impact on politics will be stronger.”8
The Problem: Access to Google in China is Slow and Unreliable
Since 2000, Google has been offering a Chinese-language version of Google.com, designed to make
Google just as easy, intuitive, and useful to Chinese-speaking users worldwide as it is for speakers of
English. Within China, however, Google.com has proven to be both slow and unreliable. Indeed, Google’s
users in China struggle with a service that is often unavailable. According to our measurements,
Google.com appears to be unreachable around 10% of the time. Even when Chinese users can get to
Google.com, the website is slow (sometimes painfully so, and nearly always slower than our local
competitors), and sometimes produces results that, when clicked on, stall out the user’s browser. The net
result is a bad user experience for those in China.
The cause of the slowness and unreliability appears to be, in large measure, the extensive filtering
performed by China’s licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs). China’s laws, regulations, and policies
against illegal information apply not only to the Internet content providers, but also to the ISPs. China has
nine licensed international gateway data carriers, and many hundreds of smaller local ISPs. Each ISP is
legally obligated to implement its own filtering mechanisms, leading to diverse and sometimes
inconsistent outcomes across the network at any given moment. For example, some of Google’s services
appear to be unavailable to Chinese users nearly always, including Google News, the Google cache (i.e.,
our service that maintains stored copies of web pages), and Blogspot (the site that hosts weblogs of
Blogger customers). Other services, such as Google Image Search, can be reached about half the time.
Still others, such as Google.com, Froogle, and Google Maps, are unavailable only around 10% of the
Even when Google is reachable, the data indicates that we are almost always slower than our local
competitors. Third-party measurements of latency (meaning the delay that a user experiences when
trying to download a web page) suggest that the average total time to download a Google webpage is
more than seven times slower than for Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine.
Users trying to get to Google will have different experiences at different times of day, and from different
points on the Chinese network. For example, access to Google appears to be speedier and more reliable
in Beijing than in Shanghai, and generally better in the largest cities compared to smaller towns, suburbs,
Based on our analysis of the available data, we believe that the filtering performed by the international
gateway ISPs is far more disruptive to our services than that performed by smaller local ISPs. Because
Google’s servers have, to date, been located exclusively outside China, all traffic to and from Google
must traverse at least one of China’s international gateway ISPs. Accordingly, Google’s access problems
can only be solved by creating a local presence inside China.
Operating without a local presence, Google’s slowness and unreliability appears to have been a major –
perhaps the major – factor behind our steadily declining market share. According to third-party estimates,
Baidu has gone from 2.5% of the search market in 2003 to 46% in 2005, while Google has dropped to
below 30% (and falling).9 The statistics are even more dire among the college-age young, who use Baidu
even more, and Google less, than their elders. Part of this has been due to improvements in Baidu’s
services and a major marketing campaign (funded by the proceeds of its successful IPO in the US), but
the leading cause seems to be the Chinese users’ annoyance at the persistent slowness and unreliability
Google’s Calibrated Approach
In light of the chronic access problems that have plagued Google in China, Google’s management set out
more than a year ago to study and learn about China, to understand and assess our options, to debate
their relative merits, and to make a decision that properly weighs both business and ethical
There is no question that, as a matter of business, we want to be active in China. It is a huge, rapidly
growing, and enormously important market, and our key competitors are already there. It would be
disingenuous to say that we don’t care about that because, of course, we do. We are a business with
stockholders, and we want to prosper and grow in a highly competitive world.
At the same time, acting ethically is a core value for our company, and an integral part of our business
culture. Our slowness and unreliability has meant that Google is failing in its mission to make the world’s
information accessible and useful to Chinese Internet users. Only a local presence would allow Google to
resolve most, if not all, of the latency and access issues. But to have a local presence in China would
require Google to get an Internet Content Provider license, triggering a set of regulatory requirements to
filter and remove links to content that is considered illegal in China.
So we were confronted with two basic options –  stay out of China, or  establish a local presence in
China – either of which would entail some degree of inconsistency with our corporate mission. In
assessing these options, we looked at three fundamental Google commitments:
(a) Satisfy the interests of users,
(b) Expand access to information, and
(c) Be responsive to local conditions.
The strongest argument for staying out of China is simply that Google should not cross the line of selfcensorship, 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.
At the same time, the speed and technical excellence of Google.cn means that more information will be
more easily searchable than ever before. Even with content restrictions, a fast and reliable Google.cn is
more likely to expand Chinese users’ access to information.
We also took steps that went beyond a simple mathematical calculus about expanding access to
information. First, we recognize that users are also interested in transparency and honesty when
information has been withheld. Second, users are concerned about the privacy, security, and
confidentiality of their personal information. Finally, users want to have competition and choices, so that
the market players have a strong incentive to improve their offerings over time.
Transparency. Users have an interest in knowing when potentially relevant information has been
removed from their search results. Google’s experience dealing with content restrictions in other countries
provided some crucial insight as to how we might operate Google.cn in a way that would give modest but
unprecedented disclosure to Chinese Internet users.
Google has developed a consistent global policy and technical mechanism for handling content deemed
illegal by a host government. Several of the countries in which we operate have laws that regulate
content.In all of these countries, Google responds similarly. First, when we get a court order or legal
notice in a foreign country where we operate, we remove the illegal content only from the relevant
national version of the Google search engine (such as Google.fr for France). Second, we provide a clear
notice to users on every search results page from which one or more links has been removed. The
disclosure allows users to hold their legal systems accountable.
This response allows Google to be respectful of local content restrictions while providing meaningful
disclosure to users and strictly limiting the impact to the relevant Google website for that country. For
China, this model provided some useful guidance for how we could handle content restrictions on
Google.cn in way that would afford some disclosure when links have been removed.
Privacy and Security. Google is committed to protecting consumer privacy and confidentiality. Prior to
the launch of Google.cn, Google conducted intensive reviews of each of our services to assess the
implications of offering it directly in China. We are always conscious of the fact that data may be subject
to the jurisdiction of the country where it is physically stored. With that in mind, we concluded that, at least
initially, only a handful of search engine services would be hosted in China.
We will not store data somewhere unless we are confident that we can meet our expectations for the
privacy and security of users’ sensitive information. As a practical matter, meeting this user interest
means that we have no plans to host Gmail, Blogger, and a range of other such services in China.
Competition and Choice. Internet users in China, like people everywhere, want competition and choices
in the marketplace. Without competition, companies have little incentive to improve their services,
advance the state of the art, or take innovative risks. If Google were to stay out of China, it would remove
powerful pressure on the local players in the search engine market to create ever-more-powerful tools for
accessing and organizing information. Google’s withdrawal from China would cede the terrain to the local
Internet portals that may not have the same commitment, or feel the competitive pressure, to innovate in
the interests of their users.
The Decision: What Google Is Doing in China
The deliberative process and analysis outlined above led to the following decisions.
(1) Launch Google.cn.
We have recently launched Google.cn, a version of Google’s search engine that we will filter in response
to Chinese laws and regulations on illegal content. This website will supplement, and not replace, the
existing, unfiltered Chinese-language interface on Google.com. That website will remain open and
unfiltered for Chinese-speaking users worldwide.
(2) Disclosure of Filtering
Google.cn presents to users a clear notification whenever links have been removed from our search
results in response to local laws and regulations in China. We view this a step toward greater
transparency that no other company has done before.
(3) Limit Services
Google.cn today includes basic Google search services, together with a local business information and
map service. Other products – such as Gmail and Blogger, our blog service – that involve personal and
confidential information will be introduced only when we are comfortable that we can provide them in a
way that protects the privacy and security of users’ information.
Next Steps: Voluntary Industry Action
Google supports the idea of Internet industry action to define common principles to guide the practices of
technology firms in countries that restrict access to information. Together with colleagues at other leading
Internet companies, we are actively exploring the potential for guidelines that would apply for all countries
in which Internet content is subjected to governmental restrictions. Such guidelines might encompass, for
example, disclosure to users, protections for user data, and periodic reporting about governmental
restrictions and the measures taken in response to them.
Next Steps: U.S. Government Action
The United States government has a role to play in contributing to the global expansion of free
expression. For example, the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce and the office of the U.S. Trade
Representative should continue to make censorship a central element of our bilateral and multilateral
Moreover, the U.S. government should seek to bolster the global reach and impact of our Internet
information industry by placing obstacles to its growth at the top of our trade agenda. At the risk of
oversimplification, the U.S. should treat censorship as a barrier to trade, and raise that issue in
1 “China Online Search Market Survey Report,” China Network Information Center (CNNIC) (August
2005) (“CNNIC Search Engine Study”).
2 Guo Liang, “Surveying Internet Usage and Impact in Five Chinese Cities,” Research Center for Social
Development, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (November 2005) (“the CASS Internet Survey”), at iii.
The CASS Internet Survey is a statistically rigorous survey of Internet users in Beijing, Shanghai,
Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Changsha.
4 Id., at iv.
5 “15th Statistic Survey Report on the Internet Development in China,” China Network Information Center
6 From statistics published by China’s Ministry of Information Industry.
7 CASS Internet Survey., at iv-ix, 93-100.
8 Id. at 100.
9 CNNIC Search Engine Study.
From Google Official Blog, posted February 15, 2006
Retrieved on 3/3/15 from http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/testimony-internet-in-china.html
Google helps Chinese avoid censorship
By Joe McDonald, Associated Press
June 1, 2012
BEIJING – Google has fired a new salvo in a censorship battle with Beijing by adding a feature that warns
users in China who enter search keywords that might produce blocked results and suggests they try other
Ng Han Guan, AP
Flowers are placed on the Google logo outside Google China headquarters in Beijing.
Google’s announcement Thursday described the change as a technical improvement and made no mention
of Beijing’s extensive Internet controls. But it comes after filters were tightened so severely in recent weeks
that searches fail for some restaurants, universities or tourist information. Authorities were trying to stamp
out talk about an embarrassing scandal over the fall of a rising Communist Party star.
Google Inc. closed its China-based search engine in 2010 to avoid cooperating with government
censorship. Mainland users can see its Chinese-language site in Hong Kong but the connection breaks if
they search for sensitive terms.
The new feature will alert users if they enter a search term that “may temporarily break your connection to
Google,” said a blog post by a Google senior vice president, Alan Eustace. He said it will suggest they “try
other search terms.”
“By prompting people to revise their queries, we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user
experience from mainland China,” Eustace wrote.
Google cited as an example the Chinese character “jiang,” or river, without mentioning it is the name of
former President Jiang Zemin, the possible reason results are blocked. It says the site will recommend
removing the character.
Google could anger Beijing by pointing out individual terms that might produce blocked results. Chinese
regulators do not disclose which terms are banned. They try to hide censorship by returning the same error
message as for a technical failure, possibly to avoid drawing attention to unwanted topics.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on whether the company was concerned about Chinese
Google was allowed to keep a network of advertising sales offices in China that might be vulnerable if the
communist government tries to punish the company.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, had 16.6% of China’s search market in the first quarter based
on use of its global and Hong Kong sites, according to Analysys International, a Beijing research firm. It
was in second place behind local rival Baidu Inc., which 78.5%, but ahead of other Chinese competitors.
Google is also promoting its Android mobile phone operating system for use by Chinese manufacturers.
Beijing approved Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a wireless device maker, last
month on condition Android remains available to Chinese companies and others at no cost for five years.
Tensions over censorship highlight Beijing’s complicated relations with global technology companies. The
communist government wants to boost incomes by promoting high-tech industry but insists on controlling
access to information.
Beijing promotes Internet use for education and business and has the world’s biggest population of Internet
users, with 513 million people online as of December, but tries to block politically sensitive material.
The latest tightening of controls was prompted by a flurry of rumors online about the downfall of Bo Xilai, a
prominent politician who was party secretary of the major city of Chongqing in the southwest.
In addition to Bo’s name, blocked terms include Chongqing and Yangtze River, which flows past the city.
That means searches for universities, hotels, restaurants or other businesses that use those names also
China’s two most popular microblog services stopped allowing new postings for three days in early April to
erase what they said were illegal or harmful postings.
Google’s engineers reviewed the 350,000 most popular search queries in China in an effort to find
“disruptive queries,” the company said.
Google gave no indication when development of the latest feature started but said it received reports of
unreliable searches “over the past couple of years.”
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