It doesn’t take much skill in prognostication to figure out when I got up this morning and started perusing my morning feeds that the whole China vs Google and their coattail riders would still be hitting the news. It was also easy to figure out that much of the talk would be about the good that Google was doing by setting a stance like this against the evils of censorship.
If only that were truly the case then this might be a discussion worth having. The thing is that as much as Google and the press might want us to believe that and revel in the righteousness of what was happening this whole smokescreen of battling censorship has nothing to do with the right of the Chinese people to free and unfettered access to the Internet than it had to do with business – making money.
One only has to put down the rose colored glasses for a moment and really read what is being put out there.
Take the news that Dell is considering leaving China and moving it’s operations to India. As James Johnston reported here this morning Dell is looking to shift to safer environment with a climate that is more conducive to enterprise with a security of legal system. James notes
Dell isn’t the first company to shift or consider shifting their manufacturing away from China, a country that has become increasingly hard to do business with due to governmental regulation and interference, the once powerful manufacturing hub of the world has seen many of their manufacturing plants close down or cut staff drastically in the last several years.
See, no blaming censorship as the cause for the possible move – it’s all business related.
Now let’s take a look at the freshest news of companies looking to leave China over supposed censorship concerns – GoDaddy.
Once more there is this overlaying connotation over the news that GoDaddy is joining Google in its supposed pissing contesting with China and that it will no longer be doing business in China. Wow.. the snowball is beginning to roll against China now eh.
Ya. Sure. Now let’s put down the kool-aid and get a reality check done.
That reality check can be found in a post over on ReadWriteWeb that for the most part seems to be toeing the current warm and fuzzy viewpoint. However halfway through the post Mike Melanson provides us with what is probably closer to the real reason for GoDaddy pulling out.
GoDaddy’s move, however, is not the purely altruistic act of solidarity it might first appear to be. A new Chinese policy enacted last December upped the ante, requiring registrants of.cn domain names to submit photos and business identification, which would then be forwarded to the government. The law would require GoDaddy to retroactively gather information from domain registrants.
So in other words – business. It is becoming more expensive for GoDaddy to service China based accounts than what they would be profiting from the sale of domains to people in China.
Now, let’s look at the ringleader of this supposed change of heart – Google.
To get at the real heart of the matter here one just has to read Google’s testimony to the Federal Commission on China to see exactly why Google is flashing the evil and ungodly censorship flag like some mad fool. Jennifer Valentino-DeVries at the Digits blog has some of the better parts of the testimony from which you can easily pull this little gem:
On censorship globally:
“More than 25 governments have blocked Google services over the past few years. Since 2007, YouTube has been blocked in over a dozen countries. We have received reports that our blogging platform has been blocked in at least seven countries, and that our social networking site, Orkut, has been blocked in several countries.”
As far as Google is concerned censorship only does one thing – blocks their pages from being delivered which means they are losing advertising dollars. It might not be hurtful in isolated cases but when it happens in the case of a huge population base like China this definitely impacts Google’s bottom line.
There is nothing altruistic about Google’s moves, just as there isn’t in the case of GoDaddy or Dell. It all boils down to business. Censorship hurts the bottom line.
Does China really care about all this noise?
Sure it might bother them on a diplomatic scale when it comes to how the world perceives them but beyond that I sincerely doubt it. After all as David Barboza from the Globe and Mail nicely pointed out China doesn’t need any of these companies in order to maintain their Internet or Internet services.
What this all boils down to is that far from being directly because of censorship any dissatisfaction with China boils down to strictly one of dollars and cents.