Do Evil: Are Search Engines Morally Wrong?

From the Telegraph UK:

“Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been accused by MPs of “morally unacceptable” behaviour for helping the Chinese government restrict the information its citizens can get from the internet”

Censorship of political descent is, without doubt, wrong in democratic nations. There’s also an interesting angle that this article alludes to:

“The report also highlights growing concern over China’s expanding influence in oil rich regions of central Asia and Africa, where it is believed to be deploying ever increasing numbers of spies to mop up western technological secrets. Britain’s secret services are recruiting teams of spies able to speak Mandarin and counter the growing Chinese influence”

There is strategic importance for the west in spreading democracy to China. The spread of democracy has the potential to reduce potential future conflicts. While Chinese leaders may not like it, if the people get a taste for freedom of information, they may start demanding it. The internet also helps amplify their voices.

But not if search engines help enforce the status quo. The search engines have argued that it is better to be participant, even if they do not agree entirely with the terms, presumably because the hope the terms will change in future. It remains to be seen if they are simply being used.

“The committee concludes: “The collaboration of Western internet companies in the censorship and policing of the internet for political purposes is morally unacceptable. The MPs raise concerns about the threat to global democracy from closer links between Russia and the Chinese”.

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