Google in China

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Google saw an opportunity to reach Chinese users and provide them the best possible service. The company was aware that they would have to accept the fact that they would never be able to provide a completely uncensored search engine in China. They faced two options: run a substandard service from the U.S that would be blocked by China’s national firewall or run their service in China with better speed and quality but under China’s strict censorship guidelines. They chose to serve the customer as best as they could while maintaining an ethical stand. Initially, the search engine maintained a mix of three ethical philosophies we studied: the Friedman doctrine, cultural relativism and naïve immoralism. The Friedman doctrine states that a company should follow the law and not do anything above and beyond that which it states (Hill, 2009). Google followed the Chinese censorship laws and created a service that provided maximum search results. The site even informs its users when the results are censored. Secondly, the management at the search mega-engine knew that if they did not adapt to this cultural difference, where government interference and censorship is accepted, their service would be shut down or blocked. In this sense they made use of the philosophy of cultural relativism (Hill, 2009). Competing search engines such as Yahoo and MSN had faced similar road blocks and also conformed to the censorship restrictions in place. In regards to this, Google adopted the philosophy of naïve immoralism (Hill, 2009).

Google faced criticism for their ethical stance. Human Rights Advocates are righteous moralists: they believe that giving up moral standards is wrong irrespective of the situation at hand (Hill, 2009). The activists accused Google of becoming money hungry and abandoning its principals. From their point of view, it would have been better to not enter the Chinese market at all rather than provide censored search results. Their claim was that Google should...
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