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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Google Aids China's Censorship of Information

Google played a cowardly joke on their investors and patrons by abandoning their "Do No Evil" mission to enable Communist China block web searches on Tibet, Taiwan, Tianamen, the Falun Gong, and CCP supremacy from their google.cn site.

Google has remained outside this system until now. But its search results are still filtered and delayed by the giant banks of government servers, known as the great firewall of China. Type "Falun Gong" in the search engine from a Beijing computer and the only results that can be accessed are official condemnations.

Now, however, Google will actively assist the government to limit content. There are technical precedents. In Germany, Google follows government orders by restricting references to sites that deny the Holocaust. In France, it obeys local rules prohibiting sites that stir up racial hatred. And in the US, it assists the authorities' crackdown on copyright infringements.

The scale of censorship in China is likely to dwarf anything the company has done before. According to one internet media insider, the main taboos are the three Ts: Tibet, Taiwan and the Tiananmen massacre, and the two Cs: cults such as Falun Gong and criticism of the Communist party. But this list is frequently updated.

Google's action is already coming under massive criticism around the world. It is cowardly and disgraceful for a company the prides itself on allegedly advancing the spread of information and democracy through the internet is now the tool of a brutal regime in the systematic repression of freedom and thought. Shame on Google. They deserve whatever comes next.

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It hasn't taken long for Google's new policy of blocking people's access to information to take effect. Via Drudge:
Within minutes of the launch of the new site bearing China's Web suffix ".cn," searches for the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement showed scores of sites omitted and users directed to articles condemning the group posted on Chinese government Web sites.

Searches for other sensitive subjects such as exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, Taiwan independence, and terms such as "democracy" and "human rights" yielded similar results.
Communist Google: Helping Totalitarian Governments Repress Information Since 2006.

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Great commentary by John Murrell of Good Morning Silicon Valley:
Apparently you can scratch "censorship in pursuit of profit" off your list of Things That Are Evil.
[...]
I have a ton of respect for all that the Google folks have done and aspire to do, and they can dress the decision up in whatever way makes them comfortable, but this is just wrong to the bone, a capitulation that is anti-everything the Net and the communications revolution is supposed to represent. Google made a nice deposit in its credibility account with its refusal to join the U.S. government on a fishing trip... But a few more moves like this China kowtow and that account will be drained dry.
Absolutely right John. While Google earned my respect this week by opposing the Bush administration's request for information about its users, they can't expect the net to afford them respect when they act like puppets to a totalitarian regime. Censorship and the repression of information is antithetical to the egalitarian spread of ideas on the internet.

4 Comments:

  • At 2:11 AM, Anonymous Brian Bowles said…

    Whilst I fully endorse the above comments I feel that Google have taken a calculated step here and decided that any criticism will blow over. Whilst the internet providers kowtow to the Chinese over limiting information on the web without a practical response from users that hits them in the pocket nothing will change. They are in pursuit of the all consuming $. So a switch en masse to other internet providers who do show backbone by advertisers and users alike would be the appropriate reaction. (Are there any left?) Shame on you Google, Yahoo, Microsoft. Because of your actions there are people in China languishing in prison who pursued activities which you in the west are fortunate enough to take for granted. How hypocritical! Suggestions welcome.

     
  • At 2:12 AM, Anonymous Brian Bowles said…

    Whilst I fully endorse the above comments I feel that Google have taken a calculated step here and decided that any criticism will blow blow over. Whilst the internet providers kowtow to the Chinese over limiting information on the web without a practical response from users that hits them in the pocket nothing will change. They are in pursuit of the all consuming $. So a switch en masse to other internet providers who do show backbone by advertisers and users would be the appropriate reaction. (Are there any left?) Shame on you Google, Yahoo Microsoft. There are people in China languishing in prison because of your actions who pursued activities which you in the west take for granted. How hypocritical! Suggestions welcome.

     
  • At 2:13 AM, Anonymous Brian Bowles said…

    Whilst I fully endorse the above comments I feel that Google have taken a calculated step here and decided that any criticism will blow over. Whilst the internet providers kowtow to the Chinese over limiting information on the web without a practical response from users that hits them in the pocket nothing will change. They are in pursuit of the all consuming $. So a switch en masse to other internet providers who do show backbone by advertisers and users alike would be the appropriate reaction. (Are there any left?) Shame on you Google, Yahoo, Microsoft. Because of your actions there are people in China languishing in prison who pursued activities which you in the west are fortunate enough to take for granted. How hypocritical! Suggestions welcome.

     
  • At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is in intriguing to say the least. My school paper, the Targum, wrote an editorial proclaiming the other day that Google is demonstrating the ethical behavior our government should have been protecting all along. I can't wait to write a rebuttal in a couple of weeks with my column about how you can't be so quick to trust a multi-billion dollar corporation to be loyal to anyone anytime to any ethical viewpoint. When it comes to China forget it. If a corporation shows a shred of social responsibility one moment you can sure bet they will turn their back the next when it is convenient. As Brian said-all they see at the end of the day are $$.

    -liz f. rusft

     

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