Let me be absolutely clear that I don't really trust Google. I have huge admiration for their technology, their vision and their foresight. I also accept that the famous "Do No Evil" motto is a genuine aspiration and not just a barefaced lie. However Google is an extremely wealthy extremely powerful organisation who have a virtual strangle hold over one of the worlds most important resources. History has shown again and again that when you mix large amounts of power with large amounts of wealth and throw in a healty dollop of human nature principles eventually go out the window.
Given that position I have to admit astonishment at Google's recent announcement of a change in their approach to China. They are no longer going to comply with Chinese Government request's to censor search results for the Chinese market. Allowing for the language of diplomacy this seems to me to be a declaration of war between a multinational corporation and a global superpower.
Can a mere company hope to win such a war? Surely not - if the company flaunts the law of the land then the Chinese government can shut down their local operations and even arrest any local employees. Google would be forced to pull out of China completely and the Chinese could contine business as usual behind their great firewall. There are other search engines after all, probably even a few home grown ones.
Is this really a decision being made on principle? Is there a political motivation behind it? Was there any US government involvement in the decision? Are there any economic reasons why Google would consider this move? Is there any possibility that a move like this could start a ripple of awareness among the population of the worlds largest nation who live behind the great firewall of China? I don't know the answer to any of these questions but I do think it will be very interesting to watch how this unfolds.
Discalimer: I recognise the irony of the fact that I am writing this article on a blogging service owned and provided to me for free by Google.