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Mistaking Political Opinion for State-Hood

May 3, 2013

Here’s a cute one.  Just because is has GDP bigger than most countries, Google is starting to think it’s one.

In a statement, Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said: “We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products. We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries. In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, ICANN, ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organisations.”

Google’s “controversial” decision angered the Israeli foreign ministry: “This change raises questions about the reasons behind this surprising involvement of what is basically a private Internet company in international politics,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

Dr Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was delighted. He said: “This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories.

Really, this is a drop in the bucket.  I can see how a reasoned company would make a change like that, and it might not even have been a decision that went that high up… well, except for the PR.  Once you get to PR then you are talking the company, not some manager in the company.

Governments have the ability to raise revenue on a whim, as well as the ability to spend some of that revenue on tanks.  Google has the ability to raise prices on ads, but not a lot of enforcement if people just stop paying.  I’ve seen a couple companies in the past think they’re big enough to avoid the pain of being a country while acting like one on the political scene.  Microsoft tried it once or twice.  Then the DOJ lawsuit hit, and people figured out that a ton of lawyers on taxpayer dime can always beat a company’s legal framework by wearing it down… especially when the company is paying taxes.

If Google keeps up like this, I don’t predict things ending well.

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