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Google's a US Asset in the Internet Wars

I think American policymakers recognized, somewhere in this fight, that a powerful private company like Google is their best long-term defense in this coming global battle over the Internet.

Sure, China has managed to "replace" Google and other western Internet companies inside its borders, but only to an extent. Getting over the "great firewall" is a key act of defiance inside China, and a fairly common one. Google has the technical weapons and the financial strength to keep enabling that in ways even western governments can't.

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So there's a sort of quid pro quo developing. In exchange for using its technical and financial might on behalf of western standards it believes in, Google is being left alone in the name of a free Internet. Whether Google is "evil" or not is less the question than the fact that Google, the Internet's most powerful player, is American.

This isn't all good news. Local governments around the world are going to increase their pressure for taxes, for censorship, and local as opposed to global control of the resource. Google will keep having to balance its own interests against those of local government critics -- its recent move to avoid obscenity in image search, reported by the Los Angeles Times, is one indication of how it will do this.

But as long as western governments see Google as being on their side, they will tread lightly.

At the time of publication, the author had positions in MSFT and GOOG.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage

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