Roger L. Simon

Google - pretty good; Microsoft - okay; Yahoo - bad

That’s the conclusion of famed Chinese blogger Zhao Jing near the end of Clive Thompson’s fascinating (in its details) and disturbing (in its equivocation) New York Times Magazine article today – Google’s China Problem (and China’s Google Problem). Yahoo has been selected as the fall guy here because its actions in China – passing email identities of dissidents to authorities which resulted in the lenghty incarceration of these same dissidents – most egregiously cater to China’s totalitarian impulses. Overall, the article asks the question: Can an imperfect Internet help change a society for the better? Thompson’s answer, despite numerous quibbles, appears in my reading to be yes. Although he may be right in the long run, this is not justification for me for US companies observing laws and traditions that keep the door open for despotism. Maybe I’m just not sufficiently post-modern enough – or have any Google stock. Still, Thompson’s article is definitely worth a read. This is the best overview I have seen of how the relationship between these companies and China developed.