Google Plays Politics - InformationWeek

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10/6/2005
06:16 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google Plays Politics

Beset by lawsuits and recognizing how our fee-for-service government works, Google has hired its first lobbyist, Alan Davidson, formerly an associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Beset by lawsuits and recognizing how our fee-for-service government works, Google has hired its first lobbyist, Alan Davidson, formerly an associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology.Students of ancient history may recall that Microsoft reacted in much the same way when the government came after its monopoly. Line enough pockets and someone's sure to remember when drafting legislation.

Google's goals seem noble enough: "Defend the Internet as a free and open platform for information, communication and innovation." Google should be applauded for backing worthy principles.

But don't get all misty-eyed just because Google's corporate interests happen to match many interests of the Internet community. Consider this statement: "Google will continue to oppose efforts to force us to block or limit lawful speech." The problem with this position is that outside the U.S. many of the things people really want to say aren't lawful. If you're a political dissident abroad, don't be surprised if Google removes your online words of protest from its index at the request of some repressive regime.

It's arguably unfair to expect more of businesses. Google CEO Eric Schmidt's first responsbility is to his shareholders and doing business in, say, China requires playing by local rules. I get that. But it's the hypocrisy of Google's goal to "do no evil" that bothers me. If Google would just 'fess up and admit that they do a bit of evil, just like everyone else, that would make me happy.

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