The big technology news today is that Google is threatening to leave China, leading to a wave of speculation on what that may mean for both the gatekeeper of internet information and the Chinese economy.
On the surface, Google has said this is about human rights and cyber attacks – which are likely, at least, factors in their decision. But this isn’t the first time Google’s China operation has been in the news in the last few weeks. Recall that Google’s efforts to make all books available online has run afoul of copyright holders in China (as it has here in the States) and even spawned a lawsuit. Negotiations on what Google would pay the authors of the works it scanned and made available to search users were subsequently put on hold.
While Google’s exit strategy is a good way to draw attention to human rights, in the end it may be a way to beat the Library Cops.
(Disclosure: I have worked in a minor role on projects involving Google’s book settlement in the past, although I do not now.)