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Google Businesses Censorship The Internet

Google Shareholders Reject Censorship Proposal 163

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the keeping-it-real dept.
prostoalex writes "At the annual shareholder meeting, Google put forth for voting a proposal for the company not to engage in self-censorship, resist by all legal means the demands to censor information, inform the user in case their information was provided to the government, and generally not to store sensitive user data in the countries with below average free speech policies. As this proposal, if passed, would effectively mean the end of Google's China operations, the shareholders rejected the document at the recommendation of the Board of Directors."
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Google Shareholders Reject Censorship Proposal

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  • by Deathbane27 (884594) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:06AM (#19081063)
    Google lost the ability to "do no evil" the minute they became a publicly traded company.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You really expect any sane businessman to turn down an extra billion pair of eyes on their ads? They still have a company, an incredibly successful public trust, to run.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548)
        Of course, you are aware that there's a difference between a public company and a public trust. Aren't you?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aussie_a (778472)
        No, but then I tend to think of businessmen as immoral. I wouldn't expect a rapist to turn him/herself in either.
      • by CheShACat (999169)
        Directive 1: Serve the public trust Directive 2: Protect the Profit Margin Directive 3: Uphold the facade Dricetive 4:
    • by matt4077 (581118) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:18AM (#19081167) Homepage
      You might want to consider that this was actually proposed by one of their shareholders. That's a nice answer to all those "if a company forgoes profit for doing good, it's a crime against capitalism and shareholders" comments I regularly see on slashdot. However, this isn't really "doing evil" but rather "not committing do doing good". Google is still free to implement these measures, they are just not forced to do it. From a management perspective, it leaves more options on the table.
      • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:36AM (#19081295) Homepage Journal

        You might want to consider that this was actually proposed by one of their shareholders


        Yeah. A small pension fund with a very few shares. They hardly represent the majority.

        That's a nice answer to all those "if a company forgoes profit for doing good, it's a crime against capitalism and shareholders" comments I regularly see on slashdot.


        Hmph. I usually see the opposite, but ...

        However, this isn't really "doing evil" but rather "not committing do doing good". Google is still free to implement these measures, they are just not forced to do it. From a management perspective, it leaves more options on the table.


        But Google won't implement these measures and we all know that. The bottom line is that China is too big a market for Google to ignore. Everyone has to remember that Google is nobody's hero. That's not the reason they exist -- they exist to make money. They reward creativity at Google because ultimately it's profitable to do so. They try to make themselves look less evil than other big companies (AOL, Microsoft, etc.) because they it's profitable to do so. I'm not saying that Google didn't start with admirable goals, but today they are a publicly-traded company and their raison d'etre is to create value for their shareholders. So everyone needs to stop putting companies -- particular Apple and Google -- on a pedestal and realize that your relationship with them as a consumer should be if you like their products, use them, if not, go elsewhere.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jhoger (519683)
          At the end of the day a corporation's primary responsibility is to create shareholder value.

          But it is tempting (easy) to take far too simplistic a view of that.

          Take environmental policy, for example. The simplistic "bottom line" thinking is screw the environment. But it is short term, will upset many stakeholders, and eventually, the government will come in and regulate. All those are serious consequences that will affect shareholder value. Where is the balance point?

          I think one of Google's selling points i
        • Everyone's so positive this choice is morally compromised. Do you honestly think Google pulling out of China would have improved censorship problems for people living there? No, it would simply leave the market wide open for engines like Baidu, who with a Chinese HQ and friends in the Party can be much more easily (and quietly) manipulated. Doing No Evil is more complicated than knee-jerk "don't touch that dirty spot" reactions, which is why shortsighted idealogical proposals like the one that was put fo
      • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:39AM (#19081323)
        You might want to consider that this was actually proposed by one of their shareholder

        But you missed the point, in the end it didn't happen!. It is like Serghey saying that making a deal with China wasn't very nice, but they still kept the deal. Don't you see this is all a publicity stunt. The whole "do no evil" might have worked when Goolge was just 10 people in a garage. But tt doesn't apply anymore.

        Yes, there might have been one altruistic shareholder, but it was 1 againts what? 1000? You might as well ignore that one individual as a statistical 'fluke'.

        One of my friends invests in a consumer products company that does animal research. Many rabbits and hamsters are maimed, disfigured and practically tortured, to figure out if the products are "safe". My friend is against animal research (I am not, though), but yet he will not sell his stock in that company. Unfortunately, as sad as it is, $$$$ does make the world go round.

        No matter what moral slogans you hear from "Google" or other companies, they only serve one purpose -- to imporove the public image -- to make more $$$$$. When it comes to "make more $$$" vs. "adhering to a moral principle", then "make more $$$$" wins.

        The way I see it, a good test of moral character for a company (and for a person, for that matter) is if they would be willing to stand by their moral convictions at the expense of a significant loss in profit. Google has failed to do that...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mgoren (73073)

        Google is still free to implement these measures, they are just not forced to do it. From a management perspective, it leaves more options on the table.

        I don't know much about the politics of public companies, but it seems to me that if Google goes ahead with a policy that was specifically voted down by shareholders, then the shareholders are likely to accuse them of not fulfilling their responsibility. Regardless, Google's Board of Directors opposed the proposal, so it doesn't seem likely they'd try to imp

        • Google is still free to implement these measures, they are just not forced to do it. From a management perspective, it leaves more options on the table.

          I don't know much about the politics of public companies, but it seems to me that if Google goes ahead with a policy that was specifically voted down by shareholders, then the shareholders are likely to accuse them of not fulfilling their responsibility.

          The shareholders can accuse them all they want - but those accusations are meaningless. Why? Because

      • by aussie_a (778472) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:57AM (#19081469) Journal
        All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. So either Google is evil or they're aiding and abetting evil. Yes, this was tongue in cheek, but I've seen the distinction "google isn't doing evil, they're just not doing good" to be rather silly myself.
      • "Google is still free to implement these measures, they are just not forced to do it. "

        Actually, they probably are not free to do so. Sure, they could attempt to do so, but as soon as it effects the bottom line, the board of directors would squeal and the stock holders would force them to give up the practice in favor of their legally obligated profit.

        For get "Do No Evil", as soon as they became publicly traded their motto changed to "Share Holders' Bitch"

        -Rick
      • by drawfour (791912)
        You may have missed something. Not only did it not pass, but the board recommended AGAINST the proposal.
    • by erroneous (158367) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:25AM (#19081209) Homepage
      "Do No Evil" for Google now means saying "we don't like doing this" but then doing it anyway.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by drgonzo59 (747139)
        GOOGLE: "Do No Evil. Ever!" *(see note below).

        ...

        *NOTE: Except when in conflict with making more money. Otherwise, yeah...whatever, we'll do no evil...

        • by Firehed (942385)
          Yeah, but that note is attached to all US-based publicly traded companies.
          • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:45AM (#19081945)
            Exactly. It was our mistake to regard Google as some kind of entity with 'feelings' and moral convictions. In reality corporations are dumb money making machines (as far as their goal state is concerned). They always try to maximize the "make more $$$" function. If that means saying "do no evil" -- alright. If it means putting someone in jail over the censorship -- sure!. If there is a conflict between "making more $" and "do no evil" the issue gets sent to the PR and finance department that calculates risks associated with each and picks the choice that would ... surprise... makes more $$$!

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I think that what the founder tried to do is something interesting in courageous with their IPO. If they kept it private, as long as they lived and spent their time managing the Google company they could have fight to make the "do no evil" motto hold true. Now they prefered to turn Google in a publicly traded company, that is, a beast of many heads. And now they are trying to tame it to follow the motto. They proved that "not doing evil" was the key of their success, they want the company as whole to unders
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by simm1701 (835424)
        Or you could take the more cynical view that they did the IPO so spread the blame for no longer following that motto.

        "Sorry its not us, its our shareholders"

        Retaining control themselves leaves them an easy target for the media if they go against their stated aims, spread out and run by votes its out of their hands.
        • by drgonzo59 (747139)
          You forget, they're still are "the majority of shareholders". So on one hand they say "do no evil" on the other they vote "to do evil". Actions speak much louder than words, that's what I believe.
    • I don't get it. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Otis2222222 (581406) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:26AM (#19081223) Homepage
      From TFA:

      "Pulling out of China, shutting down Google.cn, is just not the right thing to do at this point," he said. "But that's exactly what this proposal would do."

      Am I just naive in thinking that this proposal would have no effect on their Chinese operations? Let's say the Chinese government says "hey Google, play ball" and they say "no". What can the Chinese government do exactly? I'd just like to see a company, any company that has some pull, say "what are you going to do about it?" to the Chinese. Only when people doing business grow a backbone will things change and others follow suit. But this could just be wishful thinking. I just think it would be cool if someone actually stood up to them.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        This IS China we are talking about, not the US where most corporations are held just as liable as paris hilton and can buy the legislature.
      • China has and would block google.* addresses.
        This doesn't mean its citizens would be upset (they might mildly be, but they are used to these sort of things) it simply means they would just go and use yahoo or someone else. Google when it comes to towing the the line in terms of China is the least cooperative, Yahoo turns over IP addresses and such at Chinas request at the drop of a hat. Google figures just being available in China and being better in comparison to Yahoo is "being good".

      • by drgonzo59 (747139)
        Only when people doing business grow a backbone will things change and others follow suit.

        Let me guess, you were one of the ones who really fell for the "Do No Evil!" slogan...

        I just think it would be cool if someone actually stood up to them.

        If it will make more $$$ they'll stand up to China, if it will cost $$$$, it won't happen. Everything a company does is PR just to improve the public image, just to make more $$$$. Sorry to dissappoint...

        Did you ever wonder how come big companies regularly funn

      • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Informative)

        by flooey (695860) on Friday May 11, 2007 @10:05AM (#19082231)
        Am I just naive in thinking that this proposal would have no effect on their Chinese operations? Let's say the Chinese government says "hey Google, play ball" and they say "no". What can the Chinese government do exactly?

        First, they can revoke the google.cn name. Country code names are subject to the regulation of the country they're associated with.

        Next, they can eliminate all of Google's operations in China. Google has employees and datacenters in China that are completely subject to Chinese law and can be shut down by order of the government.

        Third, they can block resolution of google.com and any other Google-related name around the world. This already happens periodically to google.com, that's why they have google.cn, but they could do it completely.

        Countries are more than able to control what does and doesn't go on within their borders. China could easily make Google completely inaccessible to its residents.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jandrese (485)
          Yeah, a big reason Baidu is so big in China is that they don't get randomly blocked by the great firewall. Remember that for the most part people just want to do their searches, they don't care about the great rights struggle and whatnot. If Google doesn't work 50% of the time then people will just switch to one that does, even if it is run by the Communist party and not as good.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ChronosWS (706209)
          Don't forget: Four: China could throw a bunch of Google's Chinese employees in jail on whatever charges they like, creating a PR nightmare for Google ("Yeah we tried not to do evil, but a lot of our people are in jail now, their lives permanently ruined.") For good measure, China could execute a few. That would bring any other company thinking of 'doing good' right into line. This of course simplifies the politics associated with China doing business with American companies, but it is not outside the
    • You know why? Because `evil' is a matter of perspective.
    • This is not evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KingSkippus (799657) * on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:50AM (#19081401) Homepage Journal

      I'm failing how to see how this is evil.

      Let's not kid ourselves. These proposals were aimed at doing the following:

      • Getting Google to stop serving China.

      I think the misguided idea here is that Google can single-handedly pressure the Chinese government into giving free speech to its citizens. The rationale, I suppose, is that China wants Google so badly that they will shed off oppression just to have it.

      If you believe this, you're fooling yourself. There's not a damn thing that Google can do to give people in China the right to free speech. If this proposal passed, the Chinese government would simply block Google from all of China, and by the time the Chinese people do hopefully have free speech someday, they'll all be using Yahoo and MSN instead of Google.

      If you don't like the fact that the Chinese people don't have free speech, be mad at the right people, the people who are actually responsible for it: The Chinese government. Stop being so indignant with companies who are doing what they can with the rules they have to play with.

      • Force Google to fight things like the DMCA here in the United States

      I'm all for Google fighting the DMCA. However, I am not in favor of forcing them to, which is exactly what this proposal would do. They should have the right to choose the battles they wish to fight. If I start my own business and decide that I (and my shareholders) want to fight for the prevention of animal cruelty and dedicate some of my profits towards that goal, that's noble. If an outside group decides that I (and my shareholders) should fight for the prevention of animal cruelty, and then we get raked over the coals because we decide that there are more worthwhile causes to take up, well, I wouldn't care so much.

      Is repealing the DMCA a priority of mine? Yes. Do I call people (or companies) "evil" for not making it a priority of theirs? No.

      And is anyone thinking that this is a double standard? Even in the United States, Google engages in proactive censorship. I'm sure there has been at least a few cases of national security information the government didn't want to get out being taken down, and we know that copyrighted videos have been pulled. In the case of China, this proposal says that Google is supposed to say, "To hell with it, we're going to do it anyway." In the case of the United States, though, Google is supposed to say, "We'll use legal means to resist."

      • Compel Google to break international laws.

      As for telling people when Google has to disclose information about them, I actually would be in favor of such a proposal. It sounds like they are trying to keep Google for doing something like getting someone arrested [rsf.org], and when you cross the line from censoring your own operations and ruining other people's lives, it's a different ballgame.

      But keep in mind a couple of things. First of all, it's not like China is the only place this can happen. If I used Gmail to send out terrorist threats here in the U.S., our government would compel Google to turn over my personally identifiable information. Is that a bad thing? I don't know, but there's no practical way Google can say, "Okay, this is a harmless joke e-mail, so we'll wipe the user's data. This is Chinese free speech, so we'll wipe the user's data. Whoops, this is a terrorist threat, so we'll keep this around for a while." Even if they could, I'm not so sure that is such a good idea, either. Again, there's a double standard of impractically expecting Google to comply with U.S. law, but thumb its nose at international law.

      Also, to my knowledge, Google hasn't turned over personally identifiable information to a government like China. Is there some reason to think that it has? Or that if it was ordered to, that Google wouldn't fight it as vigorously as possible? How do we know that it hasn't already happened, and unlike Yahoo, Google was successful? It seems to me that compared to other soulless bastard corporations, Google would be one of the most likely to actually care about stuff like that.

      • by KlomDark (6370)
        Ignore this guy, he sounds like a paid astroturfer to me.
        • Heh, I wish I were on Google's payroll.

          No, I'm just annoyed at how people are so eager to complain bitterly about a company that is one of the few decent ones out there.

          From everything I've seen and heard, Google treats its employees very well compared to the rest of corporate America (thus me wishing I were on their payroll). The people they have working there are unbelievable smart. They provide extremely valuable services, 100% gratis. They even provide APIs to their software for you to use in cle

        • Oh, and even if I were a paid astroturfer, at least that's a hell of a lot better than the bitter ugliness that is you [slashdot.org]. Nice attempt at trolling, though, and let me just say that it's an honor to make your "freaks" list.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by manifoldronin (827401)

        I think the misguided idea here is that Google can single-handedly pressure the Chinese government into giving free speech to its citizens. The rationale, I suppose, is that China wants Google so badly that they will shed off oppression just to have it.

        Well, I think that is not so much a misguided idea as a straw man of yours. Most opinions I have read on /. are not about how Google is looked up to be "the messiah for the freedom of speech in China". All most people are saying is every bit of Google's eff

        • every bit of Google's effort in resisting the Chinese government's censorship will add that much pressure

          Yes... Pressure for the Chinese government to completely block Google. And as I've pointed out before, Google is not a major force in China. It's not even the most used search engine, Baidu is. (A Chinese search engine which, you'd better believe is heavily censored by the Chinese government.) I'm astounded at how much "pressure" you and others here think that Google can place on the Chinese gover

          • Yes... Pressure for the Chinese government to completely block Google. And as I've pointed out before, Google is not a major force in China. It's not even the most used search engine, Baidu is. (A Chinese search engine which, you'd better believe is heavily censored by the Chinese government.) I'm astounded at how much "pressure" you and others here think that Google can place on the Chinese government or other businesses. I cannot emphasize how wrong you are. The answer is none. Not a little, not miniscule

      • by Bob9113 (14996)
        I think the misguided idea here is that Google can single-handedly pressure the Chinese government into giving free speech to its citizens.

        I think that is either a ridiculous straw-man, or you genuinely miss the point. It is not about changing China, it is about whether participating in a market implies that one condones that market. Google has chosen to remain in a market that requires them to engage in political self-censorship. Maybe for good reasons, maybe for bad. Maybe it makes them a good company, ma
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maxume (22995)
      Google prior to being publicly traded likely would have behaved exactly the same. Larry, Sergei and Eric own enough class B shares between them to decide each and every shareholder vote.
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Exactly. Google's not evil. It's the stockholders (including me and probably many of you (and apparently the board of directors)) that are evil. How did YOU vote?
    • >>Google lost the ability to "do no evil" the minute they became a publicly traded company.

      Your statement is, in fact, utter nonsense.

      Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin together possess 66% of the voting power in the company, which is more than enough to shoot down any proposal that the directors (i.e., they) disagree with.

      The result of this vote was a decision by the founders, and NOT by random shareholders.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MikeyTheK (873329)
      To be fair, much of any company's stock is owned by mutual funds and other investment vehicles. As a result, many of the votes come from parties that hold large blocks but are more interested in ROI more than anything else. So it's frequently hard to get much of anything passed by "shareholders" since many "shareholders" aren't individuals.

      That being said, as a shareholder I voted for the proposal.

      Do any other shareholders remember if Google's BOD recommended voting FOR or AGAINST the proposal? I think
    • by mmalove (919245)
      Evil, like freedom, like truth, is not always black and white. Sure, information is censored in China via google. But a lot of information gets through to the civilians, information that they otherwise wouldn't have, information that might lead them, through curiousity, to discover whatever was censored through their own pursuits. If google cuts and leaves China, they can wash their hands of those practices we in the US, and many around the world consider wrong. However, they could just as easily say th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_kress (99356)
      I really despise it when people talk that way about Google's policy to try to avoid being "Evil". It seems like the act of Google creating a policy designed to remind their employees that it is important to avoid doing things that hurt others or society causes them to be a target for some people.

      It's not like they mean "We never do any evil", what they are doing is telling their employees "Please do no evil". HUGE difference. The only thing I can imagine is that some people see it as the former--them dec
    • by lfourrier (209630)
      Big is evil.

      I'm quite sure that if Microsoft never had more than 15% of the market, there would be no M$ bashing on slashdot.

      Without taking into account the distortions introduced by cross selling or bundling (think Doubleclick, gmail, google apps, google maps, google news, google talk, google googles....), once a company attain a certain size in a market, the market is no longer working as it should. This is one reason why anti-trust legislation was created.
      And the fact that greed is glorified by some is n
    • by Phil-14 (1277)
      Actually, I thought the founders of Google had much more control over the company than a lot of more conventionally structured companies, and that most publically
      traded stock in the company was non-voting, or almost equivalent to bonds?

      (I also think a good punch line would be, if these are the good guys, where do I sign up with evil?)
    • Google lost the ability to "do no evil" the minute they became a publicly traded company.

      Exactly. Even Michael Moore said (in "The Corporation") that he doesn't blame corporations for acting the way they do. The shareholders insist on it.

      Here's a little thought experiment that I do with people to open their eyes. To each question, answer whether "all" (>90%) of shareholders want the company to do this, "none" (<10%), or "some" (>10% and <90%) want the company to do this:
      - Switch entirel

  • Money was at stake? The outcome was obvious!
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:08AM (#19081075)
    This post has been censored by Slashdot for crimes against groupthink but is available for viewing in the google cache.
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:09AM (#19081089)
    The right to profit trumps the rights of others to live without government oppression or intervention.
  • anti? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gadzook33 (740455) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:11AM (#19081107)
    Shouldn't the title read anti-censorship proposal?
  • Oh well. (Score:3, Funny)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:15AM (#19081131)
    So, as common sense would suggest Doing No Evil can be a vague condition of employment, not of share ownership.

    Maybe it was the employees who tipped the vote, thereby exercising their latent evilness in the only free arena they have - stock options!

  • by McGiraf (196030)
    Nice PR stunt.
  • by tomhath (637240) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:16AM (#19081143)
    There are plenty of good ways to resist censorship and try to bring about change. Refusing to do business in the country is one way, but working within the system is probably more effective. I don't see that Google is wrong here; some other company more willing to go along with the government would take their place if they pull out.
    • by N3wsByt3 (758224) <Newsbyte&freenethelp,org> on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:47AM (#19081367) Homepage Journal
      "I don't see that Google is wrong here; some other company more willing to go along with the government would take their place if they pull out."

      "I don't see where I'm wrong here," the hitman said, "if I don't do it, some other hitman would take my place if I pull out".

      The argument that doing something unethical becomes ethical (or less unethical) because others would do it if you don't, is nonsensical.
    • Refusing to do business in the country is one way, but working within the system is probably more effective. I don't see that Google is wrong here; some other company more willing to go along with the government would take their place if they pull out.

      I watched a Charlie Rose show last night where he interviewed Warren Buffer for the hour. Interesting listening to the thoughts of one of the world's richest and most influential men, but what caught my ear was his answer to a question in regards to influenci
  • some homegrown search engine will grab the lion's share of searches in china, google will try to buy them and be rebuffed, and, with a dwindling small user base, google will suddenly announce a change of heart and pull out for censorship reasons

    not business reasons!

    pfffft right

  • Not only China (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It would also effectively mean pulling out of France and Germany. And now, if we consider a governmental censorship done through the hands of private corporations to be governmental censorship anyway, they should pull out of the United States, too - what was the name of the American journalist fired for ideologically incorrect depiction of the recent Iraqi war? I don't even bother to mention Russia here.

    Censorship is evil, but it is an inevitable evil. A government that doesn't control the media in its cou

  • by jez9999 (618189) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:26AM (#19081217) Homepage Journal
    Surely 'Google's shareholders have rejected a NON-censorship proposal'?
  • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:28AM (#19081235) Homepage

    not to engage in self-censorship, resist by all legal means the demands to censor information, inform the user in case their information was provided to the government, and generally not to store sensitive user data in the countries with below average free speech policies. As this proposal, if passed, would effectively mean the end of Google's China operations

    I fail to see how this would end their operations in china.

    • It's not self-censorship if they are forced by law to do it.
    • They can resist by all legal means to censor information, but if it's illegal to display a certain type of information, they are complying with the law.
    • As far as I know (I may be wrong here), Google need not submit any user information to the Chinese government.
    • ...nor do they need to store user data in China in order to operate there, at least no more than a temporary cache couldn't solve (where temporary means a couple of minutes for each user)

    Or what did I miss?

    • by Bob9113 (14996)
      It's not self-censorship if they are forced by law to do it.
      Or what did I miss?


      I think you missed the meaning of the word, "Self." The fact that the government of China requires Google to censor their content does not mean that it is not self-censorship. Only that it is government mandated self-censorship.

      When I go out on the freeway and drive 65 miles per hour, it is not the signs on the side of the road that cause my car to go 65 miles per hour, it is me self-regulating my speed. The government mandates t
  • Another champion shown to be false.

    Nothing else need be said .... sadly :(

    • Hmmm, interesting.

      The subject should have been

      "Do no evil {less than symbol} Make more money."

      but /. took the {less than symbol} out of the title (and this the text) ..... grrrr.
  • Ya gotta feel for Google--talk about a tough choice!
    • stand by your principles, reject censorship, and kiss off about 1/4 of the world's population from using your service, or
    • remember your bank account, your kids' college fund, your retirement fund, swallow hard, and knuckle under
    Grown-ups only need reply.
    • by DogDude (805747)
      remember your bank account, your kids' college fund, your retirement fund, swallow hard, and knuckle under

      Yeah, because Google is just barely scraping by [yahoo.com].
    • by pla (258480)
      * stand by your principles, reject censorship, and kiss off about 1/4 of the world's population from using your service, or
      * remember your bank account, your kids' college fund, your retirement fund, swallow hard, and knuckle under


      You left out option #3 - Stand by your principles, don't set up a physical point of presence in oppressive countries, do everything possible to help their citizens get to your service despite their governments' best efforts, and tell the oppressive governments to go pound sand
  • Of course it was... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Larry Page and Sergey Brin hold a majority stake in the company plus the structure of the share class prevents outside shareholders from really having a say in anything Google does.
  • by PHAEDRU5 (213667)
    Go fascism!
  • just like congress (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Its interesting how much this mirrors our own congress... when money is at stake, they vote against liberty and freedom.

    Money is definitely the new god.
    • by Chyeld (713439)
      People have worshipped money long before it was even a formalized concept backed by governments. It's not a new god; it's simply the reigning god.

      However what is more interesting in the parallel between Google and Congress is how willing people are to attribute voting down one proposal as a complete sell out of principles as opposed to attributing it to a disagreement on how best to achieve a common goal.
  • Lose no profits!
  • Google is here to make money, not sort out what you think is someone else's problem. And if the founders, shareholders, or employees want to support a cause, then that money is the best way to do it.

    Democracy and the rights that are associated with it are all about self determination. As the name implies, self-determination is something you have to take for yourself - you cannot be given it. See Iraq. Hell, see the US. You took your country - you weren't given it, and it is now one of the strongest democ
    • by gilroy (155262) on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:51AM (#19082037) Homepage Journal
      Oh, BS. This wasn't a proposal that Google hire gun-runners and try to overthrow the Chinese. It was a proposal that Google refrain from odious practices. Yes, it would cost them money. No, it wouldn't cause the Chinese Communists to wake up and say, "Oh, wait, we should allow free speech".

      It would have been a principled stand. It would have been an example. And once Google was on board, attention could be turned to other companies that conduct odious operations in collusion with the Chinese government.

      Don't think organized business activism can make a real difference in the world? Think that "someone else" will always just make up the difference and the system will not change? I'd suggest you talk to someone from South Africa...
  • by cslarson (625649) on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:03AM (#19081527)
    When Google went public only a small portion of outstanding shares were floated. Besides, don't they have a different share class structure. What I'm saying is that the IPO didn't cause this vote to turn out any different. The people who voted this resolution down are the same people who decided that their company would "do no evil". It is absolute bull shit for American companies to participate and aid China in their censorship efforts. There is absolutely no excuse.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by niceone (992278) *
      Yes, mod parent up - portraying this as a bunch of anonymous investors deciding what Google should do is inaccurate. Page, Brin, and the CEO have super-voting shares worth 10 times normal shares - they are in 100% control of Google.
  • Here you go, google's new slogan at it's clearest.
  • Made in China (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:40AM (#19081871) Homepage
    I wonder how many of the people here complaining about this do personally refuse purchasing any "Made in China" goods. Because, you know, all Chinese companies are partially owned by the Chinese government itself, and an awful number of them employ slave (yes, slave) labor.

    I myself am pretty much against what the Chinese government does to their citizens, but when faced with the question "How do I extend my paycheck to cover the whole month?" it's very difficult to say "No!" to Chinese products. Maybe not all, but surely many Google shareholders face similar questions.

    The only solution for these dilemmas would be for Western governments as a whole to take action. Individuals like you, me and, yes, Google shareholders, simply don't have the power to make anything happen.
  • The whole "do no evil" / China thing is quickly becoming one of my pet peeves. There is no all-encompassing moral code.

    If you go to another country, you abide by their rules or you face punishment. The belief that "our" way is better than China's way is the same kind of thinking that got the US in the Iraq war. (Oh, look how wretched they are! We most go liberate them!) All countries have PR campaigns that try to keep the populace going a certain way, China just goes further.

    Yes, my stance is a sl
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swordgeek (112599)
      That's actually a very astute and thoughtful point.

      "Our" way of thinking implies an 'us vs. them' mentality, which is what leads to many problems in the world--perhaps most of them, in fact.

      (As an aside, I'd suggest that the invasion of Iraq was a carefully planned bit of empire-building wrapped in 'us vs. them' for the sake of garnering popular support. You can judge for yourself just how far in advance this was planned by reading the Project for a New American Century [newamericancentury.org].)

      In this case, it's a fairly simple p
  • It would also mean pulling out of Germany, France, and a few other European countries that demand, and receive, anti-nazi censorship from Google.
  • by Improv (2467)
    It seems particularly relevant that Google recently bowed to pressure from the Thai government to remove criticism [aljazeera.net] of their monarch due to lese majeste laws. It's a shame...
  • Directors in many companies cast about 95% of the votes. Either individual shareholders don't bother to vote, or the fine print lets Directors vote unvoted shares, or any number of other dodges. As someone who owns some stock, I've watched these machinations for decades.

    The title was also very misleading. It should have been: Google shareholders reject ANTI-censorship proposal.

    The plain language version of what happened is that the Board of Directors wants to keep operating in profitable China. S
  • When was this vote again?

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