Table of Contents
Google in the year 2006 made agreement with the People’s Republic of China, which helped them to launch a version of the search engine ‘Google.cn’. It is operated by the company in China as an Internet Service Provider (ISP). From the financial aspect, Google was represented by China due to its faster growth and high competition in the target market. In the same year, the country was ranked second with respect to the users accounting to 105 million from the overall 350 million individuals using mobile phones. This accounted for only 8% of the total population of the nation. Ever since the launch of Google.cn in China, the internet market reached the level of attracting 250 million users in the year 2010. The fall in the rate of market share of Google in China was one of the most essential reasons for the company to agree on a deal with the Chinese government (Wilson, Ramos & Harvey, 2015).
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The objective of the research is to focus on the relevant facts associated with the case of launching Google in China. It further concentrates on the ethical issues that were involved in the operation of Google therein on the basis of cultural perceptions. The research, in addition also focuses on the stakeholders and the impact on them. The study further emphasizes on the solutions that are required for solving the issue. Thus, the study mostly focuses on the entry of Google in China and the steps that it took for establishing a deal.
Relevant Facts of the Case
Google is the largest search engine in the world, which was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the year 1998 (Fuchs, 2017). Google has been operating in China since 1999 but it was evident that their services were becoming slow and defective due to the interference of the Chinese government and thus it introduced Google.cn in the country. The deal between the company and Chinese authorities needed IPS for the purpose of self-censor and for removing the contents that are considered illegal from the overall search results. This included contents related to any political issues such as Tibet and democracy. It further included censorship of the religious issues including ‘Falun Gong’, which was a movement prohibited by the government of China. The Chinese authority has also censored subjects related to Dalai Lama along with social issue such as pornography. The launching of Google.cn was focused on implying the values and mission of the company in accordance to the self-censorship within China (Wilson, Ramos & Harvey, 2015).
China in the year 2000, the Chinese Ministry of Public Service introduced a new system, which was titled ‘Golden Shield Project, It concentrated on the utilization of the technology that helped in policing the Chinese individuals. Therefore, in order to manage the flow of information with the use of internet, the Ministry of Public Service installed firewalls that assisted in filtering systems with respect to the content of Google. In the year 2000, the individuals, who used Google.cn comprised white collar along with ‘pro-Western Chinese businesspeople’. It was later observed in the same year that the computers users were unable to access Google.com. The government of China blocked all the sites and most of the users were forced to use other Chinese search engines. Google.com then became accessible after the period of fourteen days but with more strict censorship policies. Google from 2002 to 2006 suffered a significant fall in terms of market share. The numbers of users decreased by 10% after the Chinese government implied strong censorship on accessing the information, with only 50% of the Google images being made available (Wilson, Ramos & Harvey, 2015).
Yahoo! China knew about the launching of Google.cn in the year 2006, due to which Yahoo focused on providing the Chinese government with ‘private e-mail data’. The position of Google with respect to the accessibility of information to the public was poor after the year 2002. The following two years since the introduction of Google.cn, the company has performed effectively within China, which further helped it in achieving the second most used search engine after Baidu.com with respect to market share. In the second quarter of the year 2007, Google experience a hike in its market to 22.8% from 19.2% whereas the shares for Baidu.com decreased (Wilson, Ramos & Harvey, 2015).
Ethical issues arise, when the manner of conducting a business in a foreign land is considered unfavorable by the government and can cause harm to the cultural norms of the people (Carpenter & Dunung, n.d.). At a glance, there seems to be no such clear evidence that reflects the ethical issues in China, but the excessive regulatory practices of the government can be one. It seems that China intends to protect the hamper caused to the culture of the people. For instance, it is depicted that people were able to retrieve wide range of information from Google in the period before 2006. Google hence launched an advanced version of its search engine, Google.cn in 2006 by entering into a deal with the Chinese government. However, Google was restricted to provide information on aspects such as pornography, political opinions, democracy and the Tibet issue (Wilson, Ramos & Harvey, n.d.). Real life evidences also suggests that individuals have complained about the retrieval of personal information. Even after 2006, there were instances mentioning about retrieving pornographic content from Google. These are prime concerns of ethical issues that hinder the culture of China. Moreover, Google was banned in the nation after the regulating agencies detected pornographic content available through the search engine (Lau, 2010).
In the website google.com, one could easily retrieve information about Falun Gong or Tibet but availability of such information was largely restricted on the new search engine of google.cn, which was launched in 2006. Thus, it is to be depicted that in China, Google had displayed certain aspects that hampered culture of period, but it was before 2006 (Thompson, 2006). Thereafter, in the year 2010, Google had to withdraw its services from China as questions were raised on censorship of the IT Company. It means that Google was not able to maintain the ethical standards on its own and are required to prevent any harm caused to the culture of the people (FlorCruz, 2010).
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The regulatory agencies in the nation seem not to accept the highlights made on Dalai Lama by Google. This is because such religious issues can reveal the personal preferences of the people regarding beliefs and traditions (FlorCruz, 2010). Ethical issues with Google can be traced from the fact that some of the e-mails were hacked in 2010 pertaining to the Chinese market. It means that people were not confident that Google was able to maintain privacy of the personal Gmail accounts. This has also raised question on the censorship on Google to function effectively (McDonald, 2010). The government has undertaken rigorous measures so that the internet searches gets filtered and prohibit retrieval of data on issues such as Falun Gong, issue of free Tibet and Tiananmen Square. Moreover, information provided on Google News seems to provide a wide array of knowledge. In order to prevent any information that can cause harm to the cultural aspects of the nation from getting revealed, Google had to refine its news site. On the contrary, it is found that, though Google adheres to the norms of the government in China, it functions mostly with the orders given by the government of the United States (Hinman, 2005).
Stakeholders refer to the parties that are involved with a business. More precisely stakeholders are affected by the activities pertaining to a business organization. There are primarily two types of stakeholders namely, the primary and the peripheral stakeholders. Primary stakeholders comprises of the parties that are directly influenced by the business activities such as investors and employees. On the other hand, it is mentioned that secondary stakeholders are composed of customers, government, media, financial institutions and competitors. These parties are not directly involved with the business but are affected by the activities of the organizations.
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Pertaining to Google, it is clearly depicted that, its primary stakeholders include employees and investors. Considering the situation of the market in 2010, it is observed that share price in China dropped with the decision of the organization to refine its search engine as per the norms of the Chinese government. It is definitely an adverse impact on the investors as they will lose the money that has been invested. Drop in share price will further cause Google to shrink down the dividend payment that will in turn reduce the return on investment (ROI). During the year 2008, the share price curtailed down to $200 from $396 for Google in China (Johnson, 2010; Arrington, 2008). There is no such evidence that mentions about the impacts caused on employees of Google due to the withdrawal from the Chinese market.
The peripheral stakeholders of Google are the customers, who have been affected due to instances such as hacking of Gmail accounts or leakage of personal data. Moreover, competitors such as Yahoo, Microsoft MSN and Baidu.com were able to increase their market share due to Google’s decision to move out of the Chinese market (Lau, 2010; McDonald, 2010). Government and regulatory agencies were responsible for keeping a check over the functioning of Google (Wilson et al., n.d.).
Alternatives/Solutions for Addressing Ethical Issues
The decision of operating Google in China is not considered to be immoral, as there are various companies that do business in the host nation. Google wanted to conduct its business in China due to its large economy and internet users, which would help the company to earn high profits. This did not include any claim with respect to human value for entering into the Chinese markets. They did not consider the viewpoints of the people, as the key motive was just to enter into the markets of China. Google decision to operate its business was unethical, as it cited an agreement with the government of China. Google hence signed ‘The Pledge’ to establish in the market, which highlighted that the company would agree to obey all the rules and regulations that were stated by the Chinese government. Thus Google started with ‘information censoring system’ which was unethical, and did not allow the individuals to obtain the right to access information (Lee, 2013).
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Google lacked clear viewpoint prior to launching its business in China. Google in this context to overcome the issues that it was facing can focus on alternatives such as resisting all the laws and challenge of China. This also focuses on opposing the regulation related to the censorship. This would hence allow the company to provide its users with access to all the information without any restriction or censorship. Hence, Google must concentrate on operating against the Chinese system instead of being controlled by it. People to have access to information are included within universal human rights. This should not only focus on the violation of the human rights in China along with the other parts of the world (Lee, 2013). On the other hand, China has a particular set of rules and hence the US government can also focus on providing another from its end. Contextually, the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act can be applied. Thus, the equivalent human rights are often referred as the Foreign Oppressive Practices Act, which can be operated in the same manner with respect to the American liberty and democracy. This would hence help Google to avoid the breach of human rights in China (Weisberg, 2006).
The details of the G-mail accounts were hacked by the hackers and Chinese spies, which was unethical, as it allowed access to personal information of all the users violating their privacy (Rodriguez & Pierson, 2011). Google can hence focus on crediting security measures for the purpose of detecting along with disrupting all the interruptions (Liedtke & Robertson, 2011). Google, in order to protect the accounts from being hacked, it has significantly focused on enhancing its technology that further allows the company to have security benefits. The data center of Google is often developed with the support of custom-designed servers that assists in operating its own systems. Google further uses customized hardware that helps in controlling the operating system along with the file system. Each and every system within the systems is optimized with respect to the performance and security, as it manages all the hardware stacks (Google, 2017).
Solution of Your Choice
In order to avoid the rules and regulations of the Chinese government towards the restriction on right to access data, Google can focus on using Virtual Private Network (VPN). It is the technology, which has been used significantly in business operations and assists in developing an internet tunnel or a virtual link between physical networks that are located in different areas. This will also assist in providing access to the users and the data, which are mostly sent through the encrypted tunnel. In addition, Google with the support of VPN can help in moving data from a private network to the other with the support of protected internet tunnel. Google cannot be accessed without a VPN connection. Therefore, it assists in conducting interaction between two parties in a legal manner. With the help of a VPN, Google can develop an escape route with respect to evading censorship, which will hence help Google to prevent any type data breach from the spies and hackers (We Fight Censorship, n.d.).
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Support with Ethical Theories
Stakeholder theory states that it is the duty of any organisation to take care of the needs of the interest groups such as customers, employees, government and investors (CTI Reviews, 2016). In this regard, it can be stated that VPN will enable Google to restrict leakage of vital information pertaining to the customers. This is because VPN enables access to information in an encrypted form that cannot be easily encoded by a hacker. For instance, hackers will not be able to retrieve information on personal Gmail account of the customers due to the use of VPN. VPN hence requires input of a password to open an account of a customer. VPN has also enabled Google to maintain the norms of the government pertaining to adherence of cultural norms of the people. Maintaining moral code is another aspect of the ethical principles. VPN will hence reduce the chances of personal data leakage and thereby prevent damage to the cultural norms. Morals generally make distinction between what’s right and wrong. In the same connotation, it can be opined that virtues is another aspect of ethical perspectives that assists to align all tasks in a manner that is considered desirable by the society. It is hence obvious that restriction on personal data leakage due to VPN is accepted by the society largely (We Fight Censorship, n.d.; NWABR, n.d.).
Based on the information, it can be stated that Google first established itself in the year 1999. It was then observed that the company did not perform well, as it was unreliable and slow. The company re-launched itself in the year 2006 following an agreement with the Chinese government, which further included information censorship system, thereby allowing them to restrict data to the people of the nation. China wanted to prevent access to social and political subjects to the citizens. Google hence faced several ethical issues, out of which one was the hacking of the G-mail accounts. It led to the disclosing of private information. In this context, Google can focus on implementing strong VPN for allowing access to the public.
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