Google agreed to omit Web content that the country's government finds objectionable. Google will base its censorship decisons on guidance provided by Chinese government officials.
Examples of objectionable content could include information about the Tiananmen Square massacre, Taiwan, Falun Gong, and the Dalai Lama.
In Google's defense, a company executive replied:
“While removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission.”
Necessary evil? It's debatable. I've blogged about this topic before in connection with Yahoo! and Shi Tao, and realize there are no easy answers. But what makes this news all the more disheartening is that it flies contrary to the company's famous and long-standing philosophy of "Do No Evil." One of the chief aspect's of Google was its reputation as a white knight of industry that led by example. On Google's homepage, you can look up their corporate philosophy, which they sum up in a list of "Ten things". The list, by the way, includes the following:
4. Democracy on the web works.
6. You can make money without doing evil.
And my favorite:
8. The need for information crosses all borders.
CB Archive: "In China, 'Business as Usual' is Bad" (Sep. 19, 2005)