Google Shareholders Support Censorship?

    May 11, 2007

During the Vietnam War, an American major said, “It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.”  Well, in a slight twist on that, Google’s shareholders have decided that they must continue censoring Google China in order to keep it alive.

I don’t say that to render moral judgment on the decision, but to make a catchy opening (hey, we’re all friends here).  In any event, Google’s shareholders did indeed vote down what Google+shareholders+vote+down+proposal+on+censorship/2100-1038_3-6182997.html”>CNET’s Elinor Mills called “a proposal . . . to require the search giant to set policies to protect freedom of access to the Internet and not self-censor.”

As our own David Utter reported last month, the Office of the Comptroller of New York City introduced the proposal, and said Office happens to own a whopping 486,617 shares of Google’s Class A stock.  Google CEO Eric Schmidt, along with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, owns a few more, however, and those three fellows also sit on Google’s board of directors – which opposed the proposal.

“Without in any way defending their laws and policies, the censored or omitted data comprises less than 1 percent of the answers,” argued Schmidt.  “The index is better, more relevant.  We believe that as a result, the Chinese citizen has more information and more choices than they would had we not been in the country.”

He may have a point.  Or he may get buried under a pile of angry letters and emails from organizations like Reporters Without Borders.  Either way, Schmidt and Google’s shareholders have made their collective voice heard on this issue.