The recent flap about Google in China highlights the problem confronting dictatorships in the 21st Century. To me, the interesting question isn’t why Google caved to the ChiComs, or whether web surfers in China can bypass the restrictions by using other search engines. Instead, I wonder why China allows search engines at all. Why not just ban them?
While there are a number of search engines, there aren’t so many that they couldn’t be enumerated and banned. Yet the ChiComs feel compelled to allow this kind of information technology in, despite its risks. Quite the change from regimes that used to require registration for mimeograph machines.