Google and Corporate Citizenship
Corporate citizenship is an interesting phrase. It implies that a company should stand for something more then just making money for its shareholders.
Google needs to rethink where it stands on corporate citizenship. The other day it made two diametrically opposed decisions that indicates the company considers itself less a U.S. citizen and more of an international money hound. The company refused to give information to the U.S. government concerning what topics people were searching, not personal info just topical. Meanwhile it decided to adhere to a Chinese government request to limit what Chinese people can search for on the Internet.
Making mixed decisions is fine, but as CBS Marketwatch columnist Bambi Farncisco states today it flies in the face of the values the company publicly tries to follow.
To me these moves can lead the company down two distinct and negative, paths.
First it will become a hired gun willing to do whatever a government wants for the right price. From Google's reaction it seems the U.S. government's mistake was asking the company to give the info for free. (By the way all the other major search engines complied with the offer.)
The second is that by only delivering certain search items Google is skewing reality. If the Chinese government does not want its people to know that Americans elect their own government officials then in effect Google is lying to its customers. Withholding information is the same as lying.
Then what will happen to the company's credibility. Nobody will know if a Google search has been comprimised. Will Google withhold negative information about a company if that company is willing to pay enough money? Sort of the opposite of what it now does with its advertising program.
I do not believe a corporation is responsible for bringing democracy to another nation, but it should not corrupt its own and its home countries values just to make a buck.