We have come a long way from Google’s early motto of “Don’t be evil”.
Google is now developing a search engine for China to help that authoritarian regime suppress freedom of speech.
Li Yuan and Daisuke Wakabayashi, “Google, Seeking a Return to China, Is Said to Be Building a Censored Search Engine,” New York Times, August 1, 2018.
This makes public what appears to have long been Google’s policy of facilitating censorship in many countries under the pretext of complying with local laws. Googleś motto of “Don’t be evil” was dropped when the holding company Alphabet was formed, in a restructuring which made Google one of Alphabet’s companies.
Consequently, human rights advocates need to understand that their adversaries include not only the Trump administration and its deemphasis on human rights, but also Alphabet and Google.
Laws need to be passed penalizing U.S. based companies from aiding the repression of their populations by authoritarian regimes. This would include companies that export technologies used to suppress human rights, including Google’s new search engine to facilitate Chinese censorship of free speech.
In the meantime, what can individuals and investors do?
A first step would be to boycott Google and other companies which have decided it is now OK to “be evil” in pursuit of profits and shareholder interests.
In short, a first step would be to not use the Google search engine or other Google or Alphabet products and services.
For investors, along the road of total divestment from Google and Alphabet, it is critical to refrain from making any new investments, in stock or otherwise, which these companies may seek now and in the future.
The South African divestment campaign got off to a slow start, but was ultimately successful. The Google boycott and divestment campaign may also start slowly. What is at stake, however, is freedom of speech and freedom of the press throughout the world. Without these freedoms, other fundamental human rights may be violated by governments with impunity.
The stakes are in fact much higher than those in the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa.
The Trenchant Observer