Google recently created a public-relations firestorm when it unveiled a new search site in China that censors data on behalf of the Chinese government. Though the search giant’s success stems from its birth in a free country, that doesn’t mean the company is strong enough to enforce freedom around the world.
Many Americans were horrified to learn that American-grown technology firms such as Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco, and Google are complying with the Chinese government’s demands to control information. When Yahoo handed over data last fall that landed a Chinese journalist in jail for 10 years for simply e-mailing newspaper briefing comments to a democracy group in New York, outrage followed. But the mistake many observers make is to equate the power of corporations with the power of governments.
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