20 November 2018

The New York Times: “Sundar Pichai of Google: ‘Technology doesn’t solve Humanity’s Problems’”

How do you approach this in China, where Google is considering returning to the market with a search engine?

One of the things that’s not well understood, I think, is that we operate in many countries where there is censorship. When we follow “right to be forgotten” laws, we are censoring search results because we’re complying with the law. I’m committed to serving users in China. Whatever form it takes, I actually don’t know the answer. It’s not even clear to me that search in China is the product we need to do today.

David Gelles

A very disingenuous comparison: the EU ‘right to be forgotten’ gives power to individuals to remove certain pieces of online content (not even remove actually, just request to be removed), whereas Chinese censorship operates top-down, giving an authoritarian government power over the information its citizens can access online. If you can’t tell the difference between these two, maybe you should not be in charge of a corporation with immense global power.

I was inclined to give him the benefit of doubt, but recently YouTube has also been on an extensive campaign to undermine the European law-making process, related to a new copyright directive currently under consideration, going as far as running pop-ups on videos that warn users of this EU copyright proposal. The only conclusion I can draw from all this fearmongering is that Google thinks it’s easier (and more profitable) to build a censored search engine for China, than comply with regulations in another democratic state. And that really is everything you need to know about big tech’s moral standing.

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