Will the US Govt support Google in its battle vs China?
My hope, and expectation, is that Google engineers who might have been a bit halfhearted about implementing censorship mandates in google.cn could be full-throttle in coming up with ways for Google to be viewed despite any network interruptions between site and user. There are lots of unexplored options here. They’re unexplored not because they’re infeasible, but because most sites would rather not provoke a government that filters. So they don’t undertake to get information out in ways that might evade blockages. Here, Google would have nothing more to lose, so could pioneer some new approaches. Circumvention of filtering (or other blockages, for that matter) tends to happen on the user side of things, seeking out proxies like the Tor network, or anonymizer.com.
I love how Zittrain examines the situation from a strategic perspective, with moves and responses. I also find it provocative to consider what a massive organization like Google could do to help Chinese citizens workaround government filters.
But I think that Zittrain does not follow his chess game to its ultimate conclusion. If Google can help a large minority of Chinese citizens to get unfettered access to information, the Chinese government will press the US to enforce its policies. Presumably, Google can win the spy-vs-spy tech game with China. But China has a lot of political chips to cash in to try to win the support of the US government to rein in Google.
Already, the State Department is recognizing that this issue is extremely important (although they have not yet announced a policy or substantive statement). But when push comes to shove, will it support Google in its battle vs. China?
I certainly hope it does. Go google!