Google China is a subsidiary of Google Inc. and was founded in 2005 to cater to the Chinese population and make forays into the Chinese market. Internet censorship which is strictly imposed in China drove the company to make this move. The government controls the web content primarily through threats and penalties for the companies within its borders. For web content originating outside its territories, the content is filtered through a mechanism which is referred to as - “The Great Firewall of China.” Here the routers, first check if the web site requested is in the government’s blacklist. If the web site is not blocked, then the router examines the words in the internet page for blacklisted terms. The page displays an error message on encountering the blacklisted sites or terms.
Google search engines were available in the People’s Republic of China in the year 2000. By 2002, Google had captured 25% of all search traffic in China. Google, then had no office in China, hence the government had no legal authority over them. Firewalls did not work entirely in the case of Google search engines. The search engine displayed results which included the banned sites, but one could not follow the link to reach these sites as they were blocked. The “Great Firewall of China” slowed down all internet traffic originating outside of China. Google.com used to be down for more than 10 per cent of the time due to huge data jams. Whenever a user looked up for a banned term such as , the firewall responded with an error message suggesting that Google.com was down. There were huge delays to return the search results. Google was blocked completely in China on Sept. 3, 2002 and the sites became accessible after two weeks. Due to these slowdowns and arbitrary blockades, Google was losing its market share to Baidu and other Chinese search engines.
Google was faced with a situation where it could open an office in China and move its servers to China or exit China. The first option meant that it could bypass the firewalls and provide faster services, however then it would be subject to China’s self-censorship laws. Google complied with these laws and self-censored and purged search results which were disapproved by the Chinese government. Therefore, whenever people searched for prohibited Chinese keywords on a blocked list maintained by the government, google.cn displayed the message that: “In accordance with local laws, regulations and policies, part of the search result is not shown. “or "Search results may not comply with the relevant laws, regulations and policy, and cannot be displayed."
Google faced a lot of criticism from human rights activists as they viewed that Google’s decision to accept the Chinese Internet Censorship as a form of appeasement for an economic advantage. Google did not champion the cause of freedom of expression and sided with the government which controlled discussion and information. Google’s official motto is “Don’t be evil” and Google’s action was observed as a contradiction to their motto. Google’s decision was considered as an acceptance of a society where there is no regard for free speech.
Google Inc. is a publicly traded company and has obligations to provide returns to its shareholders. Google generates most of its revenues through advertising and the number of internet users in China is the largest only after the United States. Therefore, Google’s exit from China would not have been in the best interests of its shareholders. Society is an important