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Google faces an Egyptian choice to do good

Activist executive to be released
Mon Feb 07 2011, 10:38

DO NO EVIL might be Google's sometimes adhered-to mantra but for the Egyptian military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, detaining Google managers is apparently okay.

Google's marketing manager for the Middle East and North Africa Wael Ghonim disappeared in late January. His disappearance started getting media coverage from 29 January and then on 4 February it emerged that he had been detained by the Egyptian authorities. Media reports claim that Ghonim was arrested while taking part in the protests. It was after his arrest that Google started its phone-a-tweet service on 1 February.

With all Internet access shut down in Egypt, the search engine giant publicised its phone-a-tweet telephone numbers that were a voice to tweet to voice service. However Google's gesture was somewhat undermined by the fact that the Egyptian government turned Internet access back on for its citizens on 2 February.

Media reports are claiming that Ghonim will be released today. He has already been appointed, apparently without his knowledge, as spokesman for a group called the "6th of April Youth Movement". It will be interesting to see what Google will do after Ghonim's release if he does become the leading light of the Egyptian revolution that some protest groups want him to be.

"Do no evil" might be an ethic that Google likes to think it adheres to, but it remains to be seen if it will try to do good even if that will likely ruin its chances of doing business in other less than democratic states around the world. µ



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