DOING THE RIGHT THING IN CHINA

Interesting article by Jesse Eisinger in this morning’s WSJ, which echoes my Weekly Standard Google piece. What Eisinger adds, however, is that Google isn’t alone in turning a blind eye to the ideological whims of the Beijing Maoists. Yahoo and Microsoft are no better and, in the way that they are willing to reveal the identity of bloggers on their platforms, they might in fact be even more hypocritical than Google.

Eisinger writes that Amnesty International plans to use Google’s annual shareholder meeting next week to call on the company to “stop cooperating with censors in China.” I’m curious about Amnesty’s argument here. Will they argue that intellectual freedom in China outweighs Google profits? Or will they tell shareholders (who presumably care most about Google’s bottom line) that there is some longer term economic upside to disconnecting with China.

The interesting question is which technology company will be the first to actively pursue an ethical policy that costs them real cash. Google had its chance in China and blew it first time round. Authentic capitalism provides the ethical cover that enables Brin and Page to justify anything. But these guys are smart enough to recognize their own moral hypocrisy, especially in China. They know they are wrong. The Google Guys should listen to Amnesty. They do the right thing and pull out of China.