"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Google, Microsoft and Others on China

I was thinking about the little flap with Google censoring its search results last night, and I wanted to clarify things.

I don't know that it's "evil" of Google to block searches for "democracy." It's not ideal, but the net result of having a good search tool is still probably positive. There's something of a moral issue at stake, but it's hardly black and white. If the choice is Google minus "democracy" searches or no Google at all, you can make a case that the compromise is a net positive.

However, I think there's a harder moral line for this sort of thing:

Reporters Without Borders said Yahoo's Hong Kong arm helped China link Shi Tao's e-mail account and computer to a message containing the information.

The media watchdog accused Yahoo of becoming a "police informant" in order to further its business ambitions.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said it had to operate within each country's laws.

When you sell out someone for sending an email and that person goes to prison for 10 years, you've crossed the line from trying to provide as good a service to the Oppressed as the Oppressor will let you, and become a part of the Oppressor's system itself. Pretty simple really.