ND Expert: Will Google compromise work in China?

by Carol Elliott

John D'Arcy

A decision about whether the Chinese government will renew Google’s license to operate is expected in the next week or so. This decision follows the search giant’s announcement in March that it would redirect users of google.cn to its uncensored Hong Kong search site. Google had been protesting censorship efforts by the government for some time. It made the switch to its Hong Kong site in a response to a January hacker attack that the Google said could be traced back to China.

But according to Internet security expert John D’Arcy, it appears that Google’s desire to keep its operations in China may have won out over the company’s concerns about censorship.

“There’s a lot at stake here. China has the world’s largest Internet market,” says D’Arcy, assistant professor of information technology management at the University of Notre Dame. “However, Google has not entirely abandoned its original ‘uncensored’ stance. Instead they have offered a compromise in which Chinese users will have an option to be redirected to their Hong Kong site for unfiltered searches.

“Interesting, the timing of Google’s announcement coincides with the announcement of an upcoming visit of the Chinese president Hu Jintao to the White House. It is no secret that Google is a favorite of the Obama administration and hence can expect support from the administration in terms of keeping their Internet presence in the Chinese market.

“The decision also has broader ramification for companies that do business in China in that it signals to U.S. companies that China is taking a hard line: You must abide by our laws and regulations if you want to do business in China,” says D’Arcy.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China typically reviews Internet licenses in March. Google faces losing its license if it continues to refuse to filter search results on google.cn. Such censorship tactics are consistent with China’s stance toward controlling Web content, says D’Arcy, citing the summer Olympic games in Beijing in 2008, when foreign journalists were denied access to certain Web sites that the Chinese government deemed unacceptable.

In recent research, D’Arcy has examined the effectiveness of procedural and technical security controls in deterring computer abuse. His studies also investigate individual and organizational factors that contribute to end-user security behavior in the workplace.

D’Arcy teaches an MBA course on technology risk management and an undergraduate course on computer networking and security. After earning his bachelor’s degree in finance from The Pennsylvania State University, he worked the following four years as a cost accountant and then a financial systems analyst for Ford Motor Company. During that time, he earned an MBA from LaSalle University. He subsequently earned a Ph.D in business administration with a concentration in management information systems from Temple University.

Contact: John D’Arcy, 574-631-1735, jdarcy1@nd.edu