Weighing Google's concern for its employees in China

As battle continues, so does fear that Google workers could pay a price

Developments in Google vs. China continue at Internet speed: Yesterday Google announced that it would provide uncensored search returns to Chinese users through servers in Hong Kong. Today we read that China is largely blocking that maneuver, which cannot surprise anyone inside or outside of Google.

Meanwhile, fears remain real that Google executives and other employees working inside of China are at risk of retribution - legal or otherwise - for the company's ongoing battle with the Chinese government. Google acknowledges as much in this passage from a post on its official blog yesterday:

Finally, we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them. Despite all the uncertainty and difficulties they have faced since we made our announcement in January, they have continued to focus on serving our Chinese users and customers. We are immensely proud of them.

Proud and concerned. One reason to presume that the concern is not only genuine but a priority is that the author of that blog post, Google chief legal officer David Drummond, knows better than most the consequences of legal entanglement in foreign lands. Drummond is among the three Google executives convicted in that ludicrous "privacy" case in Italy involving a YouTube video.

As for the latest machinations between the company and China's government, it would appear that Google's Hong Kong dodge was little but a means to make clear that it is the government that depriving the Chinese people of unfiltered Internet.  Which is not to say that it wasn't an important and meaningful  tactic.

From a BBC report:

Google's decision to redirect its Chinese searches to Hong Kong may still have an effect on internet users in the mainland in terms of perception.

Chinese journalist and blogger Michael Anti said users in China might now become more aware that their country censors the internet.

He told the BBC: "For those people who've got used to self-censorship, they will notice the existence of censorship. That's the big impact."

Let's just hope Google's China-based employees don't have to pay a price for it.

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