Google’s “we’ll leave China” has nothing to do with censorship

What’s the quickest way into the hearts of a bunch of warm and fuzzy digirati?

Break the news that their favorite do no evil search giant is throwing the gauntlet down against the big evil China. The literal tidal wave of reaction both on Twitter and on blogs highlights this perfectly. It doesn’t matter where you turn but everyone is high-fiving Google and calling this the greatest turning point in the world. Seriously – just read Robert Scoble’s little ditty

The world has just dramatically changed.

Google Blog: Google threatens to leave China.

This is a world changer. We will not see this kind of world-changing action by a tech company often.

It has made me a fan of Google all over again.

Perceptions have changed.

All because they are now taking a stance against censorship in China to the point that they are apparently willing to close up shop in the country. Wow.

Are they really?

Does this really have anything to do with the fight against censorship?

Sorry but it’s a resounding no in both cases.

Google couldn’t give a shit about the censorship problem. If they did they wouldn’t have waited more than almost four years to take this kind of action. If they had really cared about censorship they would never have been willing to kowtow to the Chinese government and censored filtered search results in the country. What we got instead Schmidt placating us all with this kind of dribble – “We actually did an evil scale and decided not to serve at all was worse evil.

So what is all this about?

Well actually the answer is right there in the first paragraph of an obviously lawyer washed post on Google’s blog that everyone is linking to and holding up as some new coming of The Power Of Google.

Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.

That is what got Google all pissy. While they don’t come right out and say it – and no lawyer would – Google obviously feels that it is the government of China that has stolen their intellectual property. The rest of the crap is nothing more than window dressing to distract the digirati and give everyone the impression that it’s all about censorship.

The real message of this post wasn’t to you, me or any other quick to the keyboard blogger looking to gain as many pageviews as possible while the story is still hot. No – this was a message pointed directly at China to let them know that Google knows they have stolen the company’s property and it isn’t happy about it.

This is all a game between Google and China. China stole some property. Google notices and after digging up some additional juicy garbage puts the spotlight on China. Google and China begin talking in the back room and chances are some money (a lot of money) will change hands. Google will go back to censoring filtering search results. Everyone is happy.

Like my friend Paul O’Flaherty says (although his reasoning is slightly different) none of this holds up to any real hard scrutiny.

Finally and above all, Google is not a public service. They are a business and their primary responsibility is not to their users but to their shareholders. Leaving China would not be in their shareholders best interest.

Google are testing the waters to see if they can get a concession. It would take some serious brass balls to pull out of the Chinese market and give their foothold over to competitors. Brass balls, which for all Google has done in the past, I think are more like two rolled up socks stuffed down the underpants.

They may look impressive from afar, but they don’t hold up to scrutiny.

In the end it’s all smoke and mirrors during which once more the tech blogosphere gets played as a patsy; but hey it’s great for pageviews eh.

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