In the same week Google has been accused of contradictory moral agendas by soon launching patrol cars to monitor environmental health, while also working on a new search engine to help Communist China patrol their own people for thought crimes.
According to The Intercept, Google has enabled the use of a new search engine that, "...links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries, The Intercept can reveal. The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, was designed for Android devices, and would remove content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest."
The ethics of tech companies have come into America's cultural spotlight recently. Many conservative commentators from Fox News hosts to Trump campaign managers and grassroots Youtubers have been slamming them for clearly biased and opportunistic censorship, stating that (if left unchecked) it puts America's future in peril. Many liberal news sources have been praising them as being America's new, post-religious, moral consciousness. National Review wrote a brief article about this phenomenon, mentioning how the New York Times stated “a surprising group of Americans is testing its moral voice more forcefully than ever: C.E.O.s." National Review then cited Vox, for their similar Neoliberal sentiment, "Vox upped the ante, explaining: 'After Charlottesville, CEOs have become our public conscience.' The piece’s original title, 'Corporations are replacing churches as America’s conscience,' was even more arresting."
Over in China, Google is aggrandizing itself as an environmentalist pioneer, while enabling China's accelerating slide into a dystopian tech totalitarian nightmare. Just last week, ForeignPolicy wrote a damning editorial, "Google Is Handing the Future of the Internet to China" where it began with the foreboding statement, "In May, Google quietly removed “Don’t be evil” from the text of its corporate code of conduct, deleting a catchphrase that had been associated with the company since 2000. Amid startling revelations of how social media and internet platforms can enable political interference and new forms of stealthy cyberwarfare, avoiding evil in Silicon Valley has turned out to be harder than it looks... Google’s plans to substantially expand its currently minimal role in the Chinese market—through the potential launch of a censored search engine code-named Dragonfly—has provoked such uproar." The same article cited a similar outrage with Yahoo, "In a notorious 2007 incident, it was revealed that Yahoo had turned over private information about two journalists at the request of Chinese authorities, resulting in 10-year prison sentences for the men and a global uproar at the spectacle of a U.S. company betraying its users to an authoritarian regime. The company settled a lawsuit with the families of the two men, established a $17 million fund to support Chinese dissidents, and faced a congressional investigation in which Rep. Tom Lantos infamously chided, 'While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies.'"
Many high school students when learning about Mao's Revolution and learning about the rise of modern China will see how when one types "Tianamen Square" into American Google, it shows the massively controversial protest crackdown by the Chinese government. When one looks up Tianamen Square via Chinese Google however, it acts as if that historical brutality never occurred. For many, its their first conscious brush with dystopia, their first glimpse of totalitarian nightmare Orwell was talking about in his classic novel 1984.
As Tech companies go global, catering to the different interests and human rights standards of various countries, the commitment to universal suffrage gives way to idolatry of the bottom line. Both Democrats and Republicans should not be surprised by this. Capitalism is the greatest working economic system, but it is functionally amoral. Looking at states like California, or any major tech hub city, one can see that capitalist success is no guarantee of wholesome values. Conversely, big government like Socialism is no better, in many cases faring far worse. Capitalism, unmoored by religious values and/or a moral framework can either support positive or negative agendas based upon the biases of its owners and their economic viability.
No matter how charming liberals may find a company's rainbow profile picture during Pride month or their avowed commitments to environmentalism, or how a Conservative may like a company for its history of industriousness, all Americans should be careful of ascribing moral authority to corporations, no matter how many PR agendas they publicly promote.