Jeffrey Rosen, writing in the International Herald Tribune, says voluntary self-regulation means that, for the foreseeable future, Google and its legal team in Mountain View and elsewhere will continue to exercise extraordinary power over global speech online, which raises a perennial but increasingly urgent question: Can we trust a corporation to be good—even a corporation whose informal motto is "Don't be evil"?

If Google allowed its search results to be biased for economic reasons, it would transform the way people think about Google as a neutral free-speech tool. The only editor is supposed to be a neutral algorithm. But that would make it all the more insidious if the search algorithm were to become biased.

"They have enormous control over a platform of all the world's data, and everything they do is designed to improve their control of the underlying data," says the Internet scholar Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law School. "If your whole game is to increase market share, it's hard to do good, and to gather data in ways that don't raise privacy concerns or that might help repressive governments to block controversial content."

Wong and her colleagues at Google seem to be working impressively to put the company's long-term commitment to free expression above its short-term financial interests. But they won't be at Google forever.