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Google's Brin attacks Microsoft's China stance

Sergey Brin

By Stuart Turton

Posted on 25 Mar 2010 at 15:01

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has accused Microsoft of ignoring human rights in China to gain ground on the search giant.

The software giant's position in China came under intense scrutiny in January, after Google revealed it would stop censoring its Chinese search results in protest at attacks on its network - a threat it's now carried out.

Microsoft was quick to announce that it wouldn't follow Google's lead, with Bill Gates describing Chinese web censorship as "very limited" and Steve Ballmer arguing that "we're attacked every day from all parts of the world and I think everybody else is too. We didn't see anything out of the ordinary."

They have effectively no market share – so they essentially spoke against freedom of speech and human rights simply in order to contradict Google

Speaking to The Guardian, Google co-founder Sergey Brin claimed Microsoft's stance was aimed at scoring points over Google. "I'm very disappointed for them in particular," he said.

"As I understand, it [Microsoft] has effectively no market share – so they [Ballmer and Gates] essentially spoke against freedom of speech and human rights simply in order to contradict Google."

"We have always opposed [censorship] but obviously we have now taken a stronger point of view," he said. "I would hope that larger companies would not put profit ahead of all else. Generally, companies should pay attention to how and where their products are used."

The comments will rankle with execs at Redmond, especially given the fact that Google operated a censored search service in China for three years. When asked whether Google now regretted the decision to comply with the Chinese Government's censorship, Brin responded: "It's really hard to say. I do think we helped some. Obviously it's impossible to replace history, and we made a pretty reasonable set of decisions at the time."

Microsoft was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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User comments

Equestrian Manure!

Sorry, but Google's leaving of China had nothing to do with Chinese censorship rules and everything to do with Google getting attacked. Google expressed no doubts or issues when China was paying them and leaving them alone - it was only when their own systems were threatened that they started to pull out the 'oh, we don't agree with censorhsip' card.

*not condoning Microsoft's decision to stay in China in *any* way, just massively irritated by the Holier-than-thou attitude from Google.

By bioreit on 25 Mar 2010

Two seconds and...

They have been out of China how long? And already they are already making judgements. Geez, could their PR firm wait five minutes more before slinging some mud at the few remaining who are genuine threat to Google.

This smacks of a reformed addict, like a reformed smoker passing judgement on all those who light up. Their passing judgement is not likely to inspire or bring about any change, as what motivates what is being said is not one of genuine concern or about human rights, but about scoring cheap points with the easily brainwashed by taking cheap shots on so called moral or ethical issues.

I applaud Google for taking a stand and trying to bring about change in China, but now I question if their motives were genuinely about 'not being evil' or whether it is because they realised they will never achieve the market penetration and share as the enjoy elsewhere in the world. i.e. if we can't achieve China domination, why bother?

By tymitoh on 25 Mar 2010

Google's Brin loses it

They're right of course - doesn't stop that embryo in the photo being a hypocrit though seeing as that is precisely what Google have been doing the last 3 years.

By Nodule on 25 Mar 2010

"As I understand, it [Microsoft] has effectively no market share – so they [Ballmer and Gates] essentially spoke against freedom of speech and human rights simply in order to contradict Google."

What the hell is he talking about? 3 years ago there were these same issues but Google went in when they had no market share. Talk about throwing your toys out of the pram

By TimoGunt on 25 Mar 2010

Ever since 2006, Google have been loosing market share to Baidu (who Google have shares in), so leaving China is purely a marketing decision.
However, it gives them a PR opportunity which no amount of money could have bought them.

By Ex_Sailor on 25 Mar 2010

Perhaps, but it seems they have totally fumbled that opportunity as most of their complaints and actions at the moment just make them look like idiots.

By Nodule on 25 Mar 2010



work it out!!!

By nicomo on 26 Mar 2010

Oh please not again


Look - we can all do it.

By AdrianB on 26 Mar 2010

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