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ACM Opinion

Google's Diplomatic Alliance with U.s. Carries Risks


Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, and Johnny Chou, President of Google China unveil Chinese-language Google brand name, 2006.

AP Photo/EyePress

Google Inc.'s mastery of Internet search technology is unrivaled, but the high-tech pioneer is in uncharted territory as it finds itself embroiled in U.S. diplomatic spats with China and Iran.

Google and the Obama administration are now allies as both push for Internet freedom and an end to censorship—the Internet giant giving Washington a high-tech boost as it seeks to claim the moral high ground in the digital era.

But analysts say the fragile alliance could be put to new tests as their interests diverge on intellectual copyright and user privacy, particularly for users Washington may deem national security risks.

Google has become a cause celebre in Washington because its business provides people with information access—whether through Internet search, email, or instant messaging—making the company a de facto threat for many repressive governments, said DJ Peterson, director of corporate advisory services for the Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy firm.

And Google's vocal position on issues like Internet freedom has made the Mountain View, California, company easy to single out—for praise by the United States and criticism by foreign governments.

"Google has become a politicized brand," Peterson said. "In some ways you could say that Google is unique in its political exposure in places like Iran or China."

From Reuters
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