Two global powers, one the largest Internet company and the other the most populous nation, are currently in a heated negotiation- war. Google Inc. announced Jan. 12 that it is considering withdrawing from China, which, with nearly 400 million Internet users, is by far the largest Internet market in the world. Google, on its official blog, stated: “In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google … we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists … We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.” As of press time, Google is in closed-door talks with the PRC government over this issue. An investigation is ongoing as to whether the security breaches were tied to the government. The Chinese Communist Party, of course, denies any involvement. White House spokesperson Bill Burton told reporters that President Obama “continues to be troubled by the cyber-security breach that Google attributes to China … All we are looking for from China are some answers.” Regarding the matter, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton released the following statement: “We have been briefed by Google on these allegations, which raise very serious concerns and questions. We look to the Chinese government for an explanation. The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy. I will be giving an address next week on the centrality of Internet freedom in the 21st century, and we will have further comment on this matter as the facts become clear.” The address mentioned above, which Secretary Clinton delivered Jan. 21, was planned before the events involving the dispute unfolded, but in the address, Clinton didn’t tiptoe around the China-Google dispute. She said: “[T]echnologies with the potential to open up access to government and promote transparency can also be hijacked by governments to crush dissent and deny human rights. … The Internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China. … But countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century. … On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.” The full text of her speech is available on the State Department’s Web site. In response to Clinton, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that the U.S. is making “groundless accusations” and that they “insinuated that China restricts internet freedom.” He added, “This runs contrary to the facts and is harmful to China-U.S. relations.” The president and Clinton both clearly stand behind Google, but the dispute is very complex and barriers between sides are fluid. As per usual, oversimplification of the matter is rampant in the media. Back in 2006, when Google formally entered the Chinese market with the launch of Google.cn, the company agreed to censor its search results in accordance with Chinese law. This decision met harsh criticism from those who took Google’s unofficial “Don’t be evil” motto to heart. A company statement at that time attempted to justify the decision to enter the PRC: “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.” Now, most national U.S. media are praising Google for standing up to the “evil” Chinese government and “The Great Firewall of China”, but some of them do make a nod toward this 2006 decision and the view that when combined with current statements, it leads to charges of hypocrisy. What is largely overlooked is the manner in which arguments from both sides are mismatched. While the hacking may have been motivated by a desire of the responsible party to stifle dissent, the end result is “theft of intellectual property”, not restriction of public access to information. Google is essentially arguing against its 2006 self. The Internet giant is now planning to keep both its research center and mobile phone division active in China. The former is responsible for most of Google’s revenue and the latter is very likely to reap profits in the future as China’s mobile phone market expands. There are currently over 700 million cell phone users and projections estimate there will be over 1 billion by 2013. Google has used this situation as an opportunity to alter its moral stance in China. The company can appear to oppose censorship and play the good-guy while still posting profits in the Chinese market. Google makes great products and I use them every day, but Google is still a profit-driven company that will sometimes make decisions based on money. Last week, Clinton started her address with a few welcoming words. She commented that it is always difficult to see audience members when on stage because of lighting conditions. Most likely unintentionally, she then summed up this entire debacle with her remark: “The lights are in my eyes and you are in the dark.