September 16, 2014 Jessica Sims
Google Leaving China

Google Leaving China

While HSE has covered the struggle between China and Google until it started to simmer, it looked like things were going to simmer for a while and never erupt.  Sure, Google pulled out of a few key events in China, demonstrating that it cared little for the marketing opportunities, and the Chinese government issued a few more comments for its part.  On the whole, however, things simply simmered without the expected explosion…until now.  Before getting into the changes, remember that the future of broadband may very well rest in the outcome of this particular conflict, and some major nations are already starting down the slippery slope that China has blazed in terms of ‘net censorship.

Tanks Are Back in Tienamen

For those who have not been brought up to speed on the China versus Google spat, or Google versus China conflict depending on how one views the situation, the basics are simple: Google has long since offered filtered search results and content to residents of the People’s Republic of China.  In return for filtering search results and being able to set up shop in China, Google alleges that Chinese sponsored hackers breached Google’s corporate network and stole code and other trade secrets.  Google is not alone in these attacks, as many other major tech industry players have made similar allegations.

The only suspicious thing about these allegations is that they fit into a narrative, and like watching a new channel, anyone should be skeptical of a world that seems to make too much sense.  After all, hacking a search engine for code seems strange enough, but the alleged hacking a company like chip-giant Intel makes little to no sense.  After all, what sort of nefarious plan would the Chinese government be hatching that required them to hack major corporations?  Is this practice for cyber-warfare, something that terror-inspiring news agencies seem to enjoy reporting on?  Or is this simply a case of few facts and lots of media hype that firms can cash in on?

A Mysterious Letter

Not even 48 hours after Google began unfiltering its Chinese search results, an allegedly authentic letter was ‘leaked’ to various news agencies.  The letter has since been denounced, but that may or may not necessarily mean much.  The fact of the matter is that the Chinese are not necessarily interested in grand public gestures, but rather in cooperation on the whole.  This means that the letter that seemed to want to know more about Google’s intentions in the Chinese market could have been the real deal or it might have been a fake.

Google Closing Offices

The current rumor making the rounds is that Google is planning to officially close its offices in China on March the 22nd.  This could be seen as Google standing up to China, but it ultimately may represent a very nasty precedent.  That precedent being that when older gentlemen and ladies running a government, who may or may not necessarily be in touch with a modern populace, are presented with a problem they may take an adversarial role rather than one of cooperation.  Had the leadership of China and Google actually sat down to look at  the situation from each other’s perspective, we may have had a huge breakthrough that could have been mimicked here and abroad.

Imagine having legislators willing to listen to discourse on BitTorrent instead of plugging their ears and mumbling something asinine about piracy.  Or imagine tech giants like Microsoft not being able to abuse a monopoly and drive hundreds of small businesses under before litigation can even get off the ground simply because the systems in place were meant for an era that did not evolve as fast as today’s.  Nothing evolves faster than broadband, and some uses for broadband such as IPTV are desperately going to require that open discourse be the order of the day and not the exception.

Don’t Heed Calls From the Righteous

While the potentially tragic fallout from Google and China’s public spat is almost upon us, one thing that wise broadband enthusiasts would never do is to take up arms or accept bans.  Bans are just as ignorant as the participants of the problem, and ultimately solve little.  While it is true that China has reneged continually on their promises about a free and open Internet, the fact is that this is not unexpected.  The old expression suggests that once bitten, twice shy is a good approach, and the world at large more or less walked into this particular aspect of dealing with China with its collective eyes wide open.  This includes Google, so there really should be no tears at this point.  Striking out and avoiding Chinese products is simply foolish at this stage, especially if one can positively affect their bottom line.

Instead, broadband enthusiasts would probably do well to head over to Facebook and sign up to support their town’s effort to get Google gigabit broadband to give their town some serious broadband love.  Negative energy and effort rarely return in any positive way, but putting positive effort and energy into getting Google’s gigabit broadband to choose your town will probably erase any concerns that Google is still probably using Chinese-made hardware in the process.

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