Google’s approach to China has earned my respect – unlike their competitors, they notify users when their search results have been censored, and they don’t host confidential data in China (like blogs or email), so there’s nothing to supoena or confiscate. Now, apparently because they’re pissed at the Chinese government for attempting to crack into gmail accounts owned by their critics, they’re planning to drop all censorship on google.cn, even though this might require them to leave the country.
Why does this matter, when users in China can still access US-based Google.com in Chinese? First, because the Chinese government filters those searches without letting you know what they’ve removed. Second, because it’s really slow compared to using a search service physically located on servers in your own country, meaning that in practice Chinese users will likely just stop using Google. Deliberately cutting themselves off from what is arguably the world’s largest population of internet users is a pretty big revenue cut. Perhaps there’s some truth to their claims that their corporate motto is “don’t be evil” after all.