A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Selling Out Freedom for Profit

AP: Google Agrees to Censor Results in China---

SAN FRANCISCO - Online search engine leader Google Inc. has agreed to censor its results in China, adhering to the country's free-speech restrictions in return for better access in the Internet's fastest growing market.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company planned to roll out a new version of its search engine bearing China's Web suffix ".cn," on Wednesday. A Chinese-language version of Google's search engine has previously been available through the company's dot-com address in the United States.

By creating a unique address for China, Google hopes to make its search engine more widely available and easier to use in the world's most populous country.

Because of government barriers set up to suppress information, Google's China users previously have been blocked from using the search engine or encountered lengthy delays in response time.
Rather sad that something which enables and allows people to come in contact with information and services all over the world is so willing to join in denying others that very right. Think about it: a search engine that blocks people from searching freely. What is the point of such a powerful search engine if it can't be used properly?

To obtain the Chinese license, Google agreed to omit Web content that the country's government finds objectionable.

Although China has loosened some of its controls in recent years, some topics, such as Taiwan's independence and 1989's Tiananmen Square massacre, remain forbidden subjects.

Google officials characterized the censorship concessions in China as an excruciating decision for a company that adopted "don't be evil" as a motto. But management believes it's a worthwhile sacrifice.

"We firmly believe, with our culture of innovation, Google can make meaningful and positive contributions to the already impressive pace of development in China," said Andrew McLaughlin, Google's senior policy counsel.
Too bad Google won't make the meaningful and positive contribution of enabling liberty in China. Too bad Google is choosing to collaborate with Communists. Too bad Google is willing to block such important topics as Tianamen Square.

What good are partial truths?

Update-25 January 2006:
Financial Times: US congressman takes Google to task on China---

Google will be called to task in Washington next month following a controversial decision by the internet search engine to launch a China-based version of its website that will censor results to avoid angering the country’s Communist government.

The decision by Chris Smith, a Republican congressman from New Jersey who chairs a House subcommittee on Human Rights, to call for a February 16 hearing to examine the operating procedures of US internet companies in China, represents the first signs of what could become a serious backlash against Google and other internet companies in Washington that are perceived as capitulating to the Chinese government.

Mr Smith on Wednesday accused Google of “collaborating .. with persecutors” who imprison and torture Chinese citizens “in the service of truth”.

“It is astounding that Google, whose corporate philosophy is ‘don’t be evil’ would enable evil by cooperating with China’s censorship policies just to make a buck,” he said.