Co-founder Sergey Brin has been very outspoken about Google’s involvement in China and the company’s agreement to filter some search results there. The Russian-born Brin is familiar with state censorship and is a driving force behind Google’s “do no evil” mantra. The present article reviews some of the ethical issues associated with Google in China. [Note: this post is a companion piece to one posted in January relating Google’s China position to global management issues.]
- While we typically think of values as individual, companies are made up of individuals and have values too. Often the values of founders are reflected by the companies they create. How does Sergey Brin’s experiences influence Google’s values? Is “Do no evil” a terminal or instrumental value? How does it influence Google’s actions? Which ethical view does it reflect?
- Google initially agreed to filter search results in China, but announced in January 2010 that it would stop doing so. Where would this latest decision fall on the scale of relativism vs. universalism?
- Brin’s position on China contradicts that of Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Where would you place Brin in terms of moral development? Why? Discuss how a company might behave if its founders/CEOs were at other levels of moral development.
SOURCE: B. Worthen, “Soviet-born Brin Has Shaped Google’s Stand on China,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703447104575118092158730502.html)