Doing no evil was always going to prove tricky for Google and its ideas of universal Web access, as it expanded from country to country.
On Tuesday, the Web giant said it would review its self-censorship in China—done at the behest of a government paranoid about security and stability—after discovering cyber attacks that targeted the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. In trying to live up to its corporate mantra—“do no evil”—Google may get kicked out of such a large market.
The same day, the French government threatened to kick Google out of a project to digitize French books. France is troubled not just by copyright issues, but also the cultural slight that its heritage may soon fall under the thumb of a US corporation. This could throw a spanner in the Google Books project that, in trying to get all information online, aims at “democratizing” knowledge.
The Internet, perhaps best represented by Google, is premised on allowing anyone anywhere in the world access to anything. But as Google finds out, such international ideas could run counter to national notions of security or heritage.