“Google-ing” China: An ethical analysis of Google’s censorship activities in the People’s Republic by Leonard T. Musielak
Introduction The spread of the internet to all corners of the world has led to tremendous business opportunities for many American businesses. With these opportunities may also come many ethical dilemmas. When operating abroad, businesses are required to abide by the laws of the host country. For US companies operating in China and other countries with totalitarian regimes, this requirement may include actions that are viewed as unethical or illegal in the United States. These “expatriate” corporations must often choose to ignore the basic rights guaranteed to American citizens, and disregard their own corporate missions, in order to respect the foreign society’s mores and meet the government demands. While cooperating assures legality, the question remains is their compliance ethical?
Case Background/Research Findings “The Great Firewall of China” With an email stating “Beyond the Great Wall, Joining the World,” China signed onto the internet in 1987. (Liange & Lu, 2010, p. 104) Quickly, internet usage in the
Communist country began to grow. The Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”), which governs China, exercises almost total control over all forms of communication within its domain. If the CCP wished to continue to maintain its communication stranglehold,
they realized that a way to police the internet needed to be developed. (Thompson, 2006, 8) Initially, the internet police took the sole form of physical monitoring. A police force would manually monitor internet traffic, websites, emails, et cetera, redact information deemed “illicit” and arrest the offenders. As internet usage spread throughout the People’s Republic, this soon became an insurmountable task. The answer came in a digital filter. Dubbed “The Great Firewall” of China, the filtering system consists of routers placed in Beijing, Shanghai, and...