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Google - Ethics Case Study - Google's Situation in China

Essay by   •  July 15, 2011  •  Case Study  •  1,213 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,969 Views

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Case Summary:

Google's situation in China has increasingly become a stigma to the company, and it has apparently boiled over as Google has finally chosen to leave China (though company officials say only temporarily) due to disagreement over the Chinese use of censorship, as well as claims that prominent Chinese human-rights activists' Gmail accounts had been hacked. Google has operated in China since 2006 and has experienced difficulty in its attempts to comply with the government sanctioned censoring. Google Executives and board members must balance good business with good ethics; that is the desire of the shareholders, and, in this case, the Chinese people, as opposed to the wants of those that say Google's operations under censoring laws are unethical and cause damage to the company image. Proving problematic for Google is the fact that many of its users in China are also the same people who voice concern over its ethical approach to doing business in China.

Ethical Analysis:

 Moral Awareness:

Google's ethical moral awareness was made clear the day the company began business, as the founders chose the motto, "Don't be evil." The founders of Google knew from the outset the impact its business would have on the internet and people's lives in general. Google's continued moral awareness to ethical issues was evident immediately when business began in China in 2006. As they fought the censoring laws, Google threatened to remove their services several times, even at one point redirecting all users to an uncensored server operating in Hong Kong. Therefore, it should go unquestioned that Google is indeed at least attempting to 'do no evil', even as they practice business in a country where human rights abuses are prevalent. The amount of moral awareness also depends on the intensity of the issue, which in this case does not appear to be too high despite the amount of media coverage on the situation. The level of intensity in this situation is subdued because of the lack of consequences people would face no matter which way Google decided to act. Both Google and its chief competitor, Baidu, were forced to submit to the same level of censorship, so the Chinese people would not be losing any type of significant service. Google's market share was well less than Baidu, thus rendering any pullout by the company relatively insignificant in terms of people affected. . Because of these inputs, many Chinese users who are affected by Google's withdraw are done so minimally; in other words Google users in China have not truly lost any type of service since the Chinese government never allowed it in the first place. By pulling its services and bringing media attention to the issue, Google is attempting to raise the stakes and put added pressure on the Chinese Government.

 Moral Judgment:

Due to the lack of moral intensity (regardless of the press the issue generates) surrounding the actual pullout, Google's temporary withdraw from the country was the morally correct judgment. To not pull its services and offer a public fight, would in essence be a nod to bad business practices, sending the message that Google will follow rules that strip humans of their basic inalienable rights. While many supporters of Google say they are not doing enough, or that they are merely pulling out due to lack of profits, one should realize that the Chinese government is not one that rolls over to opposition; rather they are the exact opposite, and tend to rule with an iron



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