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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mikel Dunham Comments on Google's Repression of Freedom

Mikel Dunham, Pulitzer Prize nominated author of Buddha's Warriors has this to say about Google's outrageous partnership with China to censor information about Tibet, Tiananmen and other "politically sensitive" topics. The quote comes from an email to the SFT staff, so no link is available.
As for the "Google in China" situation, I appreciate [the] argument that there are precedents set in Germany, etc [filtering searches for Nazi]. Shame on Google for that as well. I believe in freedom of speech. Period. I don't want anyone censoring my information and I don't want a corporation or a government censoring me. Nevertheless Google's stated position in China will certainly target MY book as something unsuitable for a sixth of the world's population. So screw Do-No-Evil-Google and it's "greater good" bullshit. Google is in China to make money. It's presence there has nothing to do with ethics or greater goods and those who would promote that idea are the ones who are being naive. In Beijing, the leaders are laughing their asses off at their latest American coup. In the California corporate executive offices, Google should vote to change it's name to Grovel, in compliance with what China has already dubbed it.
Mikel's right. It's unacceptable for people to pass of China's censorship and complete ban on free speech as OK because, well it's China and that's what they do. As Mikel makes clear China's actions are incontrovertibly wrong, as are Google's decision to facilitate them and make a buck doing it. The fallout of China's censorship goes beyond the inability of people inside Tibet and China to get information about their country and the abuses the CCP perpetrates on people within their borders. Journalists inside China can't access the same information you or I can -- not to mention that Westerners travelling inside China are victim to the same blocking of information as citizens. Google hasn't just blocked web searches in accordance with China's requests, they've neutered the capacity for people to spread the truth from within China. This stands in firm contradiction the principles Google claims to stand for of free and easy access to information. It is hypocrisy at it's worst.

Also, check out the Boston Globe's scathing critique of Google's partnership in tyranny. Of note:
A FEW YEARS ago, I walked into an Internet room in Tibet's capital, Lhasa. There were no Chinese soldiers in the room, and no visible government censors nearby. A sign on the wall, however, reminded Web users that even after entering the stateless world of the Web, China's all-seeing eye had not disappeared. ''Do not use Internet," the warning instructed crassly, ''for any political or other unintelligent purposes."

Since then, China's ruling regime has perfected the science of controlling what the Chinese can read or write on the Internet to such a degree that it has become the envy of tyrants and dictators the world over. We might have expected that from a regime that has proven it will do whatever it takes to stay in power. What we never expected was to see Google, the company whose guiding motto reads ''Don't be evil," helping in the effort.

Google's decision to help China censor searches on the company's brand-new Chinese website is not only a violation of its own righteous-sounding principles, and it's not just an affront to those working to bring international standards of human rights for the Chinese people. No, Google's sellout to Beijing is a threat to every person who ever used Google anywhere in the world. That means all of us.

That's no exaggeration. Google saves every search, every e-mail, every fingerprint we leave on the Web when we move through its Google search engine, or its Gmail service, or its fast-growing collection of Internet offerings. Google knows more about us than the FBI or the CIA or the NSA or any spy agency of any government. And nobody regulates it. When a company that holds digital dossiers on millions of people decides profits are more important than principles, we are all at risk. Google will now participate actively in a censorship program whose implications, according to Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, ''are profound and disturbing." The government blocks thousands of search terms -- including censorship.

Here here!

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