"There's a sub text to 'Don't be evil,' and that's 'Don't be illegal,'" said Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the Internet. Cerf now serves as the chief Internet evangelist at Google.
When Larry and Sergey first started on their journey into the world of search, they were driven and excited by the science and the possibilities that technology presented. They may not have realized what vast power would be assigned to Google and surely didn't fully grasp the responsibility that would attend that power.
"Google may be the first entity humankind has ever known with the global economic power and social influence to take the ethical high road and treat free and open expression like a moral absolute," said Jonathan Askin, a Brooklyn Law School professor and lawyer for Internet and telecommunications clients. "If Google doesn't have the wherewithal to exert its influence for the good of humanity, I don't know who will have the courage going forward."
Worries over human rights and Internet usage are serious. In 2006, Yahoo! Inc. turned over e-mails and other information to the Chinese government, resulting in the imprisonment of journalist Shi Tao and writer Wang Xiaoning. Yahoo! later apologized for the action and provided financial support to the prisoners' families and asked the U.S. government to intervene.