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Monday, January 29, 2007

Google Pays Price for Being Evil

From the Guardian

Google's decision to censor its search engine in China was bad for the company, its founders admitted yesterday.

Google, launched in 1998 by two Stanford University dropouts, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, was accused of selling out and reneging on its "Don't be evil" motto when it launched in China in 2005. The company modified the version of its search engine in China to exclude controversial topics such as the Tiananmen Square massacre or the Falun Gong movement, provoking a backlash in its core western markets.

Asked whether he regretted the decision, Mr Brin admitted yesterday: "On a business level, that decision to censor... was a net negative."

The company has only once expressed any regret and never in as strong terms as yesterday. Mr Brin said the company had suffered because of the damage to its reputation in the US and Europe.

Last year in a speech in Washington Mr Brin admitted the company had been forced to compromise its principles to operate in China. At the time, he also hinted at a potential reversal of its stance in the country, saying "perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense".

From what was said yesterday a policy change seemed unlikely in the near future. Co-founder Larry Page said: "We always consider what to do. But I don't think we as a company should be making decisions based on too much perception."


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