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Google Official Praises "Partly Free" Regime's New Privacy Law -- Internet as Oz Series Part 4
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-10-30 11:15
Google's Global Privacy Counsel, Peter Fleischer, cheered Singapore in his blog for passing a "modern privacy law" as a way of denouncing the EU's "out of date" privacy law and its recent threat to enforce it against Google.
Fully exhibiting a couple of the most common Google PR traits, a lack of self-awareness and an instinct for political polarization, Mr. Fleischer effectively lectured the world that it should emulate the privacy lawmaking of a hybrid-authoritarian regime, Singapore, as he denounced and belittled the privacy lawmaking of European democracies. How Orwellian this is, to praise the politically authoritarian treatment of the Singaporean people as "modern," and to denounce the democratic concern for the individual liberties of EU citizens as "bizarre" and "out of date."
The Economist Intelligence Unit produces The Democracy Index which measures the state of democracy in 166 sovereign nations. It is telling that it does not classify Singapore as one of the world's 78 democracies, but as a "hybrid regime" as in authoritarian with democratic aspects. Wikipedia describes Singapore as governing "on the basis of a strong state and prioritizing collective welfare over individual rights such as freedom of speech." The Freedom in the World survey ranks Singapore as only "Partly Free." In the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index Singapore scored very low in individuals': right to privacy, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech -- all freedoms Google has heretofore claimed to hold dear in its loud support for "Internet Freedom."
An obvious reason why Google is embracing Singapore so publicly and praising its relatively lax data-protection law is that economically Singapore is ranked #2 in the world, just behind China's Hong Kong, in the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal's Index of Economic Freedom.
Mr. Fleischer also very conveniently omitted in his post the highly relevant fact, and obvious political quid pro quo here, that Google is in the process of building a major data center in Singapore scheduled to be complete in early 2013.
It is fully understandable for Google as a corporation to be attracted to Singapore's exceptionally high economic freedom. What is incongruous and inconsistent at best, and hypocritical and sanctimonious at worst here, is that Google has shamelessly puffed up its brand and public reputation of trust, by trumpeting a "don't be evil," motto, a philosophy of putting users first, and a public policy agenda of freedom of speech, net neutrality, and "Internet freedom."
Simply, this public embrace by Google's Global privacy counsel of politically authoritarian decisions to limit user freedoms puts Google squarely in the "Singapore Libertarian" camp, meaning it believes in state absolutism and limited individual freedoms of assembly, speech and press -- when it serves Google's business interests to do so.
Internet as Oz Series:
Part 1: "The New Internet Association's Back Story"
Part 2: "Top False Claims of the New Internet Association"
Part 3: "Internet Astroturf 3.0"