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dannysullivan
01-25-2006, 07:24 AM
Over on the blog, I've done a long write-up (http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/060125-072617) on the news that Google has agree to censor its search results in response to Chinese demands. I look in depth at how they agree to censor in other places like the US, France and Germany without much comment or upset and why it's kind of hypocritcal to then single out China. But the sheer amount of censoring China imposes, along with the reasons to suppress information, make me think Google should have just said no. Thoughts, comments?

Alan Perkins
01-25-2006, 08:08 AM
Google is trying to establish a reasonable foothold in China, which makes good commercial sense.

At the same time, given their apparent anti-censorship stance, I assume they hope to weaken censorship in the longer term. Surely it's better to have an anti-censorship but legally compliant presence than no presence at all. If the only search results in China were delivered by pro-censorship engines, that would be a greater wrong.

Webvisitor
01-25-2006, 10:15 AM
I'm trying to look at this issue from the eyes of a Chinese citizen. Consider I would be using a search engine that provides search results worldwide but I am not getting the same results as persons living in the free world.
I might resent Google for compromising their free world mentallity just to get me to click some sponsored ads. I might feel Google were aiding and abetting the oppressive governing regime and I might not use the service.

dschmelzer
01-25-2006, 10:33 AM
This is about 70% evil.

At a minimum, I would expect Google to display prominently a detailed notification that would give the Chinese searcher a good context on which to judge the censorship. For instance, Google should mention the type of censorship that is being invoked, as best at it can tell -- e.g., obscenity, hate speech, political speech. For political speech, they should have further detail, inasmuch as possible.

The current notification is about as milquetoast as can be. Insufficient.

Alan Perkins
01-25-2006, 11:07 AM
I might resent Google for compromising their free world mentallity just to get me to click some sponsored ads. :eek: That's one perspective. Another is that they've compromised their free world mentality to give you some search results that are as near free-world as your Government will allow (and, possibly, even nearer than that).I might feel Google were aiding and abetting the oppressive governing regime and I might not use the service.And instead you would use...???

IMO listings in which the censorship is shown will highlight to Chinese citizens just how much information is censored. This is beneficial in itself.At a minimum, I would expect Google to display prominently a detailed notification that would give the Chinese searcher a good context on which to judge the censorship. For instance, Google should mention the type of censorship that is being invoked, as best at it can tell -- e.g., obscenity, hate speech, political speech. For political speech, they should have further detail, inasmuch as possible.How do you know that Google have not already pushed things as far as they could (for now)?

dschmelzer
01-25-2006, 11:27 AM
How do you know that Google have not already pushed things as far as they could (for now)?

There's no way of knowing if it has or it hasn't. But every negotiation has a walk away point -- a point below which it's not even worth continuing a discussion or doing business. The current google.cn notification seems to fall well below that minimum threshold.

Alexander2
01-25-2006, 12:11 PM
Hello from Europe, where the news about Google censoring its site in China is the cover-story of most of the IT magazines and newspapers. I also read some 100 blog posts, where users expressed their dissatisfaction with Google in this specific case. Although it might most probably be completely useless, I just opened a blog with a very short "Open Letter to Google". The idea is that hopefully a lot of Google users leave a short comment. If you feel like contributing one or two lines, here is the link:

http://googlecensorship.blogspot.com/

Cheers,

Alexander

Phil Mac
01-25-2006, 12:20 PM
Shortly someones gonna start moaning about the censorship that jag brought in ie blocking new sites from search results.

Google will reply or not as the case maybe with use adwords we don't censor that.

Google guy rubs his hands and say "Nice little earner that one "

Then someones gonna note that the really big buck firms still get no 1 position in google search not supposed to happen googles suppose to return relative results.

Why should apple get apple.com the no 1 return in a search engine. Apples a fruit for god sake and orange is a fruit and a colour.

I don't what my kids thinkin that an apples an ipod or an orange is a silver mobile.

It might take a bit of time to get my point but basically Googles new moto should be 'lots of cash is more equal than not a lot of cash'

Can't stand censorship gonna be backing any campaign agaist google now, yep i know Yahoo and MSN have been in China for a while now and i wouldn't campaign agaist them. Its purely to do with Googles 'we are nice people' approach you believe them you eat the sweets then you find out they have stolen your wallet.

Hate nice people at least Yahoo and MSN an unashamably corporate and are probably about 50% evil but at least we know they are and they dont wear wings and pretend there nice thats 100% evil.

Right got that of my chest gonna go down the pub now and get a few jars and start preaching all over again.

vayapues
01-25-2006, 12:20 PM
Unfortunate move by Google. I can certainly understand their wanting to protect and grow their market share in China, but sometimes you have to do the right thing, regardless.

They are taking the pressure off of the Chinese government. That government can now say to their people, "hey, it is not us, it is Google who is doing it".

If the end result of doing what is right, is that Google gets banned in China, well, that would certainly hurt, but it would help give Google a legendary feeling that would carry the "do no evil" phrase deep into the hearts of searchers around the free world. As the rest of the world joins the free world, they will realize what Google did for them, and take part in the warm and fuzzy feeling. It may take decades, but doing what is right, no matter what, usually pays off, and if it doesn't pay off, well, at least you did what was right.

mcanerin
01-25-2006, 12:54 PM
Quick question: what is worse, not being able to do a search, or being able to do a search and therefore be monitored and identified?

Sometimes the police let people do things so they can catch them in the act. Are those people freer now that they can do those things?

I'm not so sure that censorship is worse than spying/monitoring, honestly.

I wonder if anyone at the 'plex thought of that, and acted appropriately?

Ian

vayapues
01-25-2006, 01:17 PM
Quick question: what is worse, not being able to do a search, or being able to do a search and therefore be monitored and identified?

Sometimes the police let people do things so they can catch them in the act. Are those people freer now that they can do those things?

I'm not so sure that censorship is worse than spying/monitoring, honestly.

I wonder if anyone at the 'plex thought of that, and acted appropriately?

Ian

Ian, just to clarify, are you asking whether Google is doing this as a means to protecting Chinese citizens?

If so, it is a great question / argument. In the short-term, it may offer protection, but what about long term?

St0n3y
01-25-2006, 05:50 PM
I just don't see how this fits with Google's mission (or their motto, for that matter), to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."

This move seems quite contrary to that. Might I suggest a more fitting mission:

"To profit from organizing the world’s information and make it as accessible and useful as possible to that end."

rcjordan
01-25-2006, 06:02 PM
One thing's for sure, the press is quickly getting over their google-hugging phase:

It's like watching little Anakin grow into Darth Vader (http://blogs.siliconvalley.com/gmsv/2006/01/its_like_watchi.html) "Apparently you can scratch "censorship in pursuit of profit" off your list of Things That Are Evil...."

Google in China: degrees of evil (http://rconversation.blogs.com/rconversation/2006/01/google_in_china.html) "Obviously this contradicts its stated desire to make information freely available to everybody on the planet, and it contradicts its mission statement: 'don't be evil.'"

ChristopherKnoch
01-25-2006, 09:31 PM
This is a similar situation that people debated when the US voted to allow China into the World Trade Organization. The thought being that at least developing a dialogue and "base camp" of capitalism is better than drawing a line in the sand. And in this case I would have to side with Google. Aside from all its business interests, one of Google's primary purposes is still the disemination of information, and I think this is still a step forward for the chinese people in that regard. While I'd love for them to be able to search for the joys of democracy right now, its still nice that they will be using Google for other informational purposes. They are making yet another step towards joining the global community of complete information exchange rather than being pushed from it.

Purist may be angered, but this not that pure to begin with and never will be. Baby steps people...baby steps.

That's my two cents...

michaelmolnar
01-26-2006, 03:06 AM
I suggest a new moto for Google ... "Don't do evil, Do business with it"

Lets let good morals and principles go out the window because we are so keen to make $$$, lets close our eyes when a business partner is getting away with murder, lets not say anything about it - is this where the world is going today?

People think that by not addressing the issue of human rights abuses in China the problem will just go away ... just by closing their eyes or saying its ok, we will make concesions here and there and hopefully they will see the light, we will give them the Olympics because they will change.

Wake up and smell the roses, things have not improved in fact they are getting worse.

Latest Chinese Communist Government directives indicate that all those that want to highlight any human rights issues within China are to be wipped out before 2008.

And yes we can make a change because that it what they are afraid of, to have the finger pointed at the them and be criticised so that they may once and for all understand that it is not acceptable to do what they are doing, Google had a chance to make a difference and they blew it, lets just call a spade a spade and not try and find excuses.

mcanerin
01-26-2006, 03:26 AM
Wake up and smell the roses, things have not improved in fact they are getting worse.

Latest Chinese Communist Government directives indicate that all those that want to highlight any human rights issues within China are to be wipped out before 2008.

Really? I'd be fascinated to read those sources and facts. Having been to China several times, they seem to fly in the face of my own personal experiences.

But that's just opinion, and we all know that opinion isn't fact. Could you list a few of those directives? I like to base my opinions on facts wherever possible, and would welcome the opportunity to broaden my knowledge in this area.

Unless, of course, you just made that up :rolleyes:

Ian

ciczac
01-26-2006, 04:00 AM
Suppose I would like to use another search engines as a protest against google's cynical policies in China (and elsewhere). I wouldn't want to use another service with similar policies. Anyone has suggestions about search engines that pursue more ethical practices (and still is a reasonably good search engine)?

Thanks,

Stefan

michaelmolnar
01-26-2006, 04:14 AM
Do you know what is sad?
After being deported from Beijing a few years ago for standing up in Tiananmen Square for human rights and Falun Gong in China and having been beaten up, and arriving back home someone here at home actually questioned that I was beaten up and that I was making it up.

I don't have to provide proof for any of my statements because they are true, and if you are trying to find an excuse not to believe it because the truth is so sad that it is unbelievable well there is nothing I can do about that, you believe what you choose to believe at the end of the day.

Here is a simple exercise for you, buy a copy of Zhuan Falun or any Falun Gong material preferably something with chinese characters on the cover that say Falun Gong and try and read it in public preferably in front of a chinese policeman in Tiananmen Square and then you will see what happens to you.

And if you want proof of the situation here is a few links, believe what you wish:

http://faluninfo.net/displayAnArticle.asp?ID=9208

And here is a link to a list of articles about what is happening in China just in case you still have any doubts:

http://faluninfo.net/fdifocus.asp?FocusType=China_News

Phil Mac
01-26-2006, 05:04 AM
Can I suggest a google bomb

Search evil get google as a protest!

SEO's willing well you know what to do...... ;)

shandrew
01-26-2006, 05:37 AM
Search for "Falun Gong" on Google.cn, compare it to Google.com's results, and you'll see how evil this is.

I wrote up my thoughts on the topic here, in an open letter to Google:

http://lart.stanford.edu/~shandrew/google-cn-propaganda.html

sheseltine
01-26-2006, 12:54 PM
Now the US Congress is calling for hearings... (http://news.ft.com/cms/s/e3f999fe-8dfc-11da-8fda-0000779e2340.html)

The same article has a slight update on the request for search data by the US government

Jonathan Mendez
01-26-2006, 01:07 PM
So let me get this straight, Google did not comply with the wishes of the United States Government this week however, it did comply this week with the wishes of the Chinese Government.

And all in the name of freedom and capitalism. :eek:

Bizarre.

St0n3y
01-26-2006, 01:36 PM
So let me get this straight, Google did not comply with the wishes of the United States Government this week however, it did comply this week with the wishes of the Chinese Government.

Don't you know?... Complying with your own government is a violation of your rights. Complying with another government is a good business relationship.

DarkMatter
01-26-2006, 03:08 PM
So let me get this straight, Google did not comply with the wishes of the United States Government this week however, it did comply this week with the wishes of the Chinese Government.

And all in the name of freedom and capitalism. :eek:

Bizarre.

Google didn't comply with a request. When someone says "May I please?" you have the right to say "No, you may not." Google said no because they knew that their actions might have a negative result in the eyes of their users. Even if there is no real violation of privacy, the perception of one might have been enough to actually cost them some users. Seems an easy decision to me...it makes their users happy and didn't cost them any profits.

Now Google has a choice: disappear altogether from China, or conform to its censorship laws. I'd bet the Chinese would prefer to have the option of using Google as opposed to using only local engines. Another easy decision...Google gets more users and more profits.

NEWS FLASH: Google is out to make a profit just like all of us. No matter what they say about not being "evil" (whatever that means) they are out there same as everybody else. TV commercals and advertising tells me stuff everyday that I know full well isnt true. I know the guy behind the counter at Mc Donalds doesnt give a rats ass whether I have it "my way". Coporations say stuff like this all the time, its lip service. It's how the game is played.

Google is not going to let their "Dont be evil" credo stop them from making money, nor should they. Business is business, this is the world we've all built.

St0n3y
01-26-2006, 04:47 PM
Google said no because they knew that their actions might have a negative result in the eyes of their users

But isn't thier decision to censor results for more profits in China doing just that... creating a negative result in the eyes of the (American) user?

Seems to me that they are. Heck, as a business decision I understand why Google wants to go to China. Many other us businesses are in China so why should Google be exempt. Well, maybe censorship IS the reason. Throw in the fact that this move in NO WAY confoms to Googles stated mission which is to "organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful." In fact censoring results to get into the Chinese market goes AGAINST this mission completely.

elton ritchie
01-26-2006, 04:55 PM
moral relativism is a fine principle upon which to organise a society. is there is anyone reading this who has NOT benefitted from living in a tolerant society that protects their rights to lead a lifestyle that some may find distasteful or immoral but which, nonetheless, does not impact upon the rights of others to live their lives as they see as appropriate and fulfilling?

actually, yes. i accessed this site over the chinese google search engine and still managed to find this strand in order to comment. so, at the very least, people using google in china can be informed about the fact that they are having information filtered as was described in the comparison of google services in different part of the world by shandrew in the above comment.

even if a determined user of google.cn could, with some effort, unearth information about tibetan or taiwanese independence, most people, and i include myself, are not determined users. the 'search engine' makes research easy and immediate and to oncover genuinely original and, in the case of the chinese user, provocative content, takes time, effort and knowledge. it will take the death of everyone of us who lived through (or watched it on telly) the tianamen square massacre to enable the government of china to wipe out the memory of the atrocity unless the information is available freely and without prejudice to every chinese citizen. it is the gradual erosion of memory into lies.

google has, for mere profit and global domination, validated the historical 'airbrushing' that Stalin, Hussein, Amin (and Nixon?) perpetrated in order to conceal brutality, genocide and persecution.

i am a little disappointed as you can perhaps detect. maybe i am not so 'relative' as i think. i shall not use google again. any suggestions for a search engine not controlled by a demon with dollar signs in their eyes?

mcanerin
01-26-2006, 07:07 PM
Google did not comply with the wishes of the United States Government this week however, it did comply this week with the wishes of the Chinese Government.
I just don't see how this fits with Google's mission (or their motto, for that matter), to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."

That's really the crux of this - that it's Google doing it. There was nary a peep when Yahoo and MSN did it. "Don't be Evil" is now being perceived as hypocrisy.

Re: Falun Gong - I did check that out. I'm wondering if a religion that is openly racist (http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2005-07,GGLD:en&q=falun+gong+racism) is in a strong position to be a poster child for human rights?

The good news is, I was able to use google.com to learn all this. If I was in China, I might not have learned about it. Score for free and open information.

whenever children are born of a mixed-race relationship, they are ''defective persons.'' Li contends that heaven itself is segregated. ''Anybody who does not belong to his race will not be cared for. I do not just say that. It is really true. I am revealing the secret of heaven to you.''
Direct quote from the founder, Li Hongzhi (http://www.apologeticsindex.org/f02.html#racism)

It's not that I don't sympathise with the ill treatment of many FG members, but I'm afraid I'm biased against racists.

Maybe because my wife is Chinese and now my kids apparently deserve to go to hell. But that's just me. Also, I'm aware of the fact that the swastika has a long and noble history in some parts of the world, but a religion with strong political overtones that works under a swastika and preaches racial purity is a bit out of my normally liberal advocacy zone. Sorry.

It's not that I'm trying to defend censorship or any particular government, it's that I take exception to automatic knee jerk "we are good and they are evil" flavor of the week pseudo-patriotism.

I think arguments with real facts, and both sides represented strongly and equally, is a better way to come to a good conclusion. Insisting that only your side is right and that the other side has nothing worth saying is demonization, not discourse.

If everyone was saying that Google was great and China was perfect, I'd be arguing the other side. Because there is ALWAYS another side.

any suggestions for a search engine not controlled by a demon with dollar signs in their eyes?

Not any of the majors. You might want to try a minor one, but their indexes are so small it's almost as bad as being censored, except the information isn't available in the first place, rather than being deleted afterward.

Take your pick, Well meaning but weak, or strong but manipulative. Kind of like choosing a politician, come to think of it.

Ian

michaelmolnar
01-26-2006, 07:39 PM
Dear Ian,

I have followed your links and they are going to one website which is clearly taking things out of context and clearly have no idea what they are talking about.

Just for your information there are lots of practitioners of Falun Gong who are in a mixed marriage, myself included and yes we even have children of mixed race, so I guess that puts your theory on somewhat shaky ground, my understanding is that the information published is incorrect.

One other thing to clarify is that Taiwan has the highest number of Falun Gong practitioners in the world, not sure of the exact number to date by I know that a few years ago it was in the tens of thousands, which again a fact that shows that the source of your link is inaccurate.

I never understood why people want to spread misinformation just to confuse things, I suggest thorough research prior to taking the first website link and take it for granted, there are always two sides to a story, make sure you find out both sides and also the reasons behind why this information is being spread by each source.

mcanerin
01-26-2006, 10:59 PM
I have followed your links and they are going to one website

Huh? The first link is to a google search with 81,000 results, only one of which is the second link, which, by the way, contains an excerpt from aninterview with the founder, rather than opinion.

I'm glad to hear that members of FG do not all follow the teachings of the founder, though I'm not sure that says much for the basis of the movement in the first place.

I suggest thorough research prior to taking the first website link and take it for granted, there are always two sides to a story, make sure you find out both sides and also the reasons behind why this information is being spread by each source.

I agree wholeheartedly, and would suggest you take the same advice. For one thing, I note that the 2 links you dropped were actually from one site, however, so you may wish to practice what you preach. It works both ways.

I did read the site, though, and checked it against reputable third party sources. I'm convinced that there have been some very, very bad things that have happened to FG followers in the PRC.

I'm also aware personally of many people whose lives have been improved dramatically, and who are now enjoying far more freedom than ever before.

This dichotomy is disturbing without doubt. I was once told that almost anything you could say about the USA, good or bad, was true to one degree or another. I suspect the same applies to China. This whole sidetrack started because I disbelieved (and still do) that "all those that want to highlight any human rights issues within China are to be wipped out before 2008".

My experiences and the people I know indicate that is not true. It's pretty clear that your experiences make you feel otherwise. I will not question the honestly held beliefs of someone, but that doesn't mean I believe they are the complete picture. I think we can both agree that China is a complicated country. The very fact that FG originated there and has such a following there in spite of everything shows this to be the case.

Bottom line - I really don't want to get into a religious disagreement here, since this is an SEO forum. Tell you what. I'll promise to read as much information on both sides with as open of a mind as possible if you agree to do the same, and that further discussions not related to SEO or search engine censorship should be in another thread/forum - OK?

Ian

michaelmolnar
01-27-2006, 03:49 AM
Dear Ian,

I was mearly trying to point out that things are taken out of context, as things are not as black and white as they apear.

I follow the teachings and that is the principles of Truth, Compassion and Tolerance and that is the essence of Falun Gong anything else that you read is most likely taken out of context with the intent to damage or attack the good name of Falun Dafa for some obscure reason.

If you really want to understand what Falun Dafa or Falun Gong is I suggest you read Zhuan Falun from start to end as this is the best way to understand what it is and not third party opinions based on having taken something out of context with the intent to sensationalize.

gilgamesh
01-27-2006, 10:48 PM
I think if bloggers boycotted AdWords, we could change Google's decision on China - which is the wrong decision.

Here's where I'm thinking out load about doing that:
http://www.gilgamesh.ca/index.php/2006/01/27/google-and-china-time-for-an-adwords-boycott/

What do you think?

kurtgros
01-28-2006, 05:59 PM
What if every website, as a form of protest, included the words "Democracy", "Human Rights", and "Oppression". Wouldn't that prevent Google from returning any results at all (in China)?

projectphp
01-28-2006, 06:47 PM
google has, for mere profit and global domination
What is an SE, and what result should it return? Should a Christian SE return the same results as a Satanic SE? What about an SE that is designed to be anti-abortion vs one that is pro-abortion? Do SEs reflect social beliefs? If not, what the hell should they reflect?

Now, I don't know the answer to most of those, but what I do know is this: it is possible for a country to ban completely anything, site or page they want to on the Internet. DNS, proxies and firewalls all offer that ability, and unless one proxies using port 25 (email), there is every chance that many governments around the world would like to do just this.

That is, IMHO, the backdrop against which this decision should be viewed.

So, what would a complete ban of all SEs mean? Well, it would mean the absolute and complete inability to find anything in China that wasn't state approved. That includes information on Falun gung: http://www.google.cn/search?hl=zh-CN&q=falun+gung&btnG=%E6%90%9C%E7%B4%A2, that is this very second still available.

Contrast that with the current SE deal, that means that information will be cnesored, not absolutely, but on a case by case basis. IMHO, that is, for the Chinese Nationals, great news. A smart Chinese National can now find whatever they like. They can start one spot away, they can try misspellings, they can search for related articles, they can do a whole bunch of stuff they couldn't if the SEs were banned. They have access to anything the Chinese have not yet thought to ban, rather than access to what the Chinese have veted. Opt-out vs Opt-in.

Forget posturing and this whole need to claim to be holier than though that often exists around debates like this, and ask yourself this: if you were a Chinese National, what would YOU prefer that Google et al did, knowing full well that a complete ban is not impossible?

Personally, I know what I would prefer if I were living in China!

Mikkel deMib Svendsen
01-29-2006, 05:11 AM
Most of us may not agree with Chinas way of cencorship. Personally, I don't like the US way of cencorship either. BUT, both China, USA or Denmark, where live, have every right to pass laws and enforce them. If Google want to do business in China, or Denmark for that matter, they have to respect the local laws, like it or not. Sure, they are free to try and negotiate better terms but by the end of the day they can either comply or stop operations there.

I mean, whats the alternative? Should the US have the right to enforce their laws in any part of the world? If so, why should Denmark, China or any other country not have that same right and would the US allow that? Off course not - and they should not!

We may live in a "global world" but most laws are still local.

StevenJames
01-29-2006, 09:23 AM
I am an American living in Beijing and have done so for the last seven
years. Four years ago, I asked the Google people to stop diverting me and
several thousand other English-speaking expatriots to a Chinese language
version of their search pages. A few weeks later I was able to go directly
to the main site in English with no problems. Even so, since that time we
have had numerous 'Google outages' and of course we understand the reason
why. Now I am concerned our access [to Google.com] will no longer be permitted, as intermittant as it has sometimes been.

I understand the rationale for Google's decision to adhere to the rules
here, as their competitors certainly do so, however, I do indeed wish they'd
have said "no" because I sincerely believe it would make things better
sooner -- and I'd certainly have been willing to put up with no Googling if
that were the intention. A pity really.

All that said, most moderately computer literate Chinese friends of mine use
a very simple proxy server software program that allows one to peruse any
and all websites. I have used it myself -- works great.

Anyway, great article! I spotted it while scanning Google News!

Cheers,
Steve

Brad
01-29-2006, 10:31 AM
If Google want to do business in China, or Denmark for that matter, they have to respect the local laws, like it or not.

And that is just the point, Google does not have to do business in China. Let's be clear - nobody is forcing them to do business in China. I dare say China would survive quite well without Google just as they have for many thousands of years.

What people are doing is tarring Google with the same brush Google painted webmasters with: you are judged by the neighborhoods you link to; you are responsible for who you link too; don't be evil, etc and so forth. Now if that means Google incurs a PR (the other kind) penalty then Google only has themselves to blame.

The one potential bright spot about all this is that there is a slim chance we will hear less moral lectures about "evil" from Google. Or that they will at least have the good manners to blush a bit when saying it.

mcanerin
01-29-2006, 12:17 PM
ROFL!

Google joined a bad neighbourhood.

Well put! Nothing like irony to put perspective on things....

Ian

Mikkel deMib Svendsen
01-29-2006, 12:56 PM
And that is just the point, Google does not have to do business in China.

I agree - and it also shows that Google is more about making more money than it is to "not be evil". I am sure they want to not be evil, if they can, but if they have to chose between making more money or not being evil they chose the money. Just like most other large corporations.

projectphp
01-29-2006, 04:48 PM
I really don't see anything evil in their decision. If access to Google is important enough to cause a debate like this, surely it is important enough to have access, even if reduced?

I don't think anyone has established why should western values of freedom of information should be applied in this instance. I also don't see anyone arguing what the position of the locals is (and not expats, sorry Steven!).

We can sit here and pass judgment, but what does Joe Beijing want? Does he want access to Google, even reduced access? What is better, not absolutely right or wrong, just better, for the locals?

If this question arose in a western country, the outcome would be very different, because in sucha situation, freedoms would be lost. Here, the reverse is true, and access to Google at all is actually a freedom won.

Besides, maybe all those evil Chinese commies really want to just see what the crap they make actually sells for at Wallmart :P

projectphp
01-29-2006, 04:57 PM
Also, am I the only one that remembers this happenning back in 2003: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.01/google_pr.html ?

dannysullivan
01-30-2006, 05:37 AM
I mean, whats the alternative? Should the US have the right to enforce their laws in any part of the world? If so, why should Denmark, China or any other country not have that same right and would the US allow that? Off course not - and they should not!

Mikkel, this isn't a US trying to impose its laws on China situation. It might turn out to be that way down the line. The US might decide that US companies cannot do business in China if they agree to censorship. And the US would be fully within its rights to do that to companies that operate within its borders. If those companies don't like such rules, they can move out.

Similarly, Google could have decided to move out of China. Exactly as you note, they either obey local laws or say thanks but no thanks.

Why not obey any countries laws? You might not obey if you feel those laws are unfair, undemocratic, unreasonable or against your own operating mission. And while Google's mission is to organize the world's information, it also has its "Don't Be Evil" principle.

I find it difficult to swallow the Google line that cooperating with widespread censorship (and by all accounts, it is much more widespread than what the US, France, Germany, Canada and possibly Denmark imposes) fits into the "Don't Be Evil" line.

Let's go back to what Google wrote (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/google-in-china.html) on its blog last Friday about the move.

Google users in China today struggle with a service that, to be blunt, isn't very good. Google.com appears to be down around 10% of the time. Even when users can reach it, the website is slow, and sometimes produces results that when clicked on, stall out the user's browser. Our Google News service is never available; Google Images is accessible only half the time. At Google we work hard to create a great experience for our users, and the level of service we've been able to provide in China is not something we're proud of.

This problem could only be resolved by creating a local presence, and this week we did so, by launching Google.cn, our website for the People's Republic of China. In order to do so, we have agreed to remove certain sensitive information from our search results.
OK, that's simply not true. It suggests the only option to giving those in China a speedier Google was to agree to censorship. The other option was not to agree and to come out with a statement saying Google wants to serve China, it knows the Chinese want to use it, but the widespread censorship doesn't fit in with the company's priciples. So if those in China agree, Google would call upon them to ask their government to stop banning access.

We get a long explanation in that post about all the internal debate Google did on this (apparently, a public debate wasn't something the company was willing to endure/try/consider. perhaps that might have made the ultimate decision less shocking). Then we get this:

We aren't happy about what we had to do this week, and we hope that over time everyone in the world will come to enjoy full access to information. But how is that full access most likely to be achieved? We are convinced that the Internet, and its continued development through the efforts of companies like Google, will effectively contribute to openness and prosperity in the world. Our continued engagement with China is the best (perhaps only) way for Google to help bring the tremendous benefits of universal information access to all our users there.

We're in this for the long haul. In the years to come, we'll be making significant and growing investments in China. Our launch of google.cn, though filtered, is a necessary first step toward achieving a productive presence in a rapidly changing country that will be one of the world's most important and dynamic for decades to come. To some people, a hard compromise may not feel as satisfying as a withdrawal on principle, but we believe it's the best way to work toward the results we all desire.

C'mon. If they're in it for the long haul, then I can argue doing the opposite -- not going in right now -- would be a long haul, long term vision. A short term sell out option is to go in now and build a market then naively think that when you're making billions off of China, you'll want to threaten to pull out later.

What exactly is the Google plan for achieving the full access? I didn't see it in the blog post. I haven't seen it explained. It seems to be to have Dr. Kai Fu Lee continue to do recruiting, to keep selling AdWords and paying out commissions and to build the business there first, then worry about dealing with evil later.

Dr. Lee is the head of Google China. You might remember Google fought a big huge case to get Microsoft's non-compete claims off his back. In the midst of all this, Lee explained (http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=1697) some of the reasons why he wanted to go to Google:

No matter how difficult, if you don’t follow your heart and insist on principles, how can suggest other people to do it. Therefore I made a very important choice. I have the right to make my choice. I choose Google, I choose China. I want to do influential things. In China, I can help the youth more and do more influential things. I want to make the best of my own efforts, and in Google I can learn the new creativity model and make myself better.

Look at that first sentence. The man heading Google China says if you don't follow and insist on principles (say "Don't Be Evil"), how can you expect others to do so. Then Google ends their post on the China mess this way:

To some people, a hard compromise may not feel as satisfying as a withdrawal on principle, but we believe it's the best way to work toward the results we all desire.
In other words, Google won't stick to its principles. And that's the heart of all this. It would be just another company (US, Danish, Argentinian, whatever) agreeing to Chinese demands and a non-issue except that Google itself very publicly set this entire "Do No Evil" thing in motion as a guiding principle.

Mikkel deMib Svendsen
01-30-2006, 06:02 AM
Mikkel, this isn't a US trying to impose its laws on China situation.

You are right, Danny, I should have said "US company" not "US" as this is offcourse a privat company not the country :) My point was just that laws and cultures around the world is very different and if you want to be part of the globalized world and do business anywhere you'll have to accept that. There are things my company can do in Denmark that I probably could not do in the US - so I don't. Even if I may not agree with the US laws I try to follow them.

As some of you may have noticed we have a situation in Denmark right now that really illustrates how bad things can go when you don't understand the feelings and traditions of other cultures. In short, a Danish newspaper decided to publish some extremely insulting catoons of the muslim Profet (some of them illustrating the Profet as a terrorist, suggesting that all muslims are terrorists!) - even though they did not how many muslims would react to this. The result is now that most Danish products are being boycut by most of the arab world, some countries have closed their embassies in Denmark, they are burning the Danish flag and have told all Scandinavians to leave the region. It's really bad at this point.

I don't agree with the Chinese cencorship but I don't think it's our job to go down there and tell the Chinese how to rule their country. It must be up to the Chinese people.

If you want to do business in the middle east you have to accept some limitations on how women can act and how local cultures and religon works. If you don't like it, stay out. If you want to do business in China you have to accept the cencorship they have, or stay out.

The problem with Google specifically is that they have been promoting the "do no evil" thing so much that they have to live up to it, and now they don't. It's just not honest.

Alan Perkins
01-30-2006, 06:55 AM
OK, that's simply not true. It suggests the only option to giving those in China a speedier Google was to agree to censorship. The other option was not to agree and to come out with a statement saying Google wants to serve China, it knows the Chinese want to use it, but the widespread censorship doesn't fit in with the company's priciples. So if those in China agree, Google would call upon them to ask their government to stop banning access.Well now they can do both. AFAIK the Chinese people can still access Google.com the same way they could before. The only difference is that there is now also a Google.cn which is more reliable, faster and serves results that comply with Chinese law. It's often easier to change things from the inside than the outside.

What exactly is the Google plan for achieving the full access? I didn't see it in the blog post. I haven't seen it explained.No surprises there. If they explained it, if they even mentioned they had such a plan, it would jeopardise its chances of success.

I would imagine the plan, if one exists, is to provide access to more and more information that the Chinese government hasn't seen fit to censor or gotten round to censoring. The gradual erosion of barriers by consistent pressure. "The truth is out there, China ... here are the tools to find it and disseminate it, now use them to the best of your creative abilities".

In other words, Google won't stick to its principles.That's a bit harsh. There is evil in going in. There is evil in not going in. Google has chosen what is, in its opinion, the lesser evil.

The big test of its principles will be the first time the Chinese government asks Google to hand over its search logs! :eek:

dannysullivan
01-30-2006, 07:31 AM
That's a bit harsh. There is evil in going in. There is evil in not going in. Google has chosen what is, in its opinion, the lesser evil.
I think the motto is "Do No Evil," Alan, not "Do The Lesser Evil." Maybe they need to change that :)

Evil in NOT going into China? Because how? Because by not agreeing to widespread censorship, Google won't be as fast. This hurts China how? There are plenty of Google alternatives to Google. It doesn't hurt China for Google not to be there. It hurts Google.

I would imagine the plan, if one exists, is to provide access to more and more information that the Chinese government hasn't seen fit to censor or gotten round to censoring. The gradual erosion of barriers by consistent pressure. "The truth is out there, China ... here are the tools to find it and disseminate it, now use them to the best of your creative abilities".
I would imagine there is no plan. I would imagine the decision is, "let's go in now, maybe it'll get better later."

As for what the Chinese government hasn't seen it to censor, it's actually Google that's doing this on its own. How Google Censors Itself For China & Paid Exclusion As Being Evil (http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/060127-150726) explains this more. There seems to be a combination of actual blacklisted sites plus Google making its own decisions on what it thinks the Chinese government won't like showing up. So rather than "getting around" Chinese censorship, Google (like other companies) is helping draft it.

The big test of its principles will be the first time the Chinese government asks Google to hand over its search logs!
Why? I mean, if that's the local law, what's Google going to do, say no? And say no in a year from now, when that market grows so much they cannot afford to pull out?

dannysullivan
01-30-2006, 07:40 AM
I don't agree with the Chinese cencorship but I don't think it's our job to go down there and tell the Chinese how to rule their country. It must be up to the Chinese people.
I agree. It is up to the Chinese people. But countries make changes based in part on the influences of other countries and world opinion. That's part of diplomacy, whether it's government backed diplomacy or citizen-based changes.

South Africa is one of those classic examples where many other countries -- and people all over the world -- disagreed with apartheid. Pressure put on South Africa from outside I think is widely considered to have helped produce change, and I don't think anyone feels bad about that.

The Chinese government will do what it wants, as all governments do. But people outside of China may not agree, may want to influence change, and they may put pressure on companies to do the same. Google itself doesn't seem to feel it can run ads for guns but censorship is OK? Google has made moral decisions as a company on what it will and will not do to earn money, as is its right. Apparently, ensuring that means a search for tiananmen (http://images.google.cn/images?svnum=10&hl=zh-CN&lr=&q=tiananmen&btnG=%E6%90%9C%E7%B4%A2) on Google China gets you smiling happy people rather than the tanks you see on uncensored (http://images.google.com/images?&q=tiananmen) Google.

In other words, the EvilRank formula seems to be this:

Money + Gun Ads = Evil
Money - Tanks = Not Evil

projectphp
01-30-2006, 08:01 AM
I know this isn't philosophy, but if two options are both evil, what is one to do? Do no evil sounds lovely, but sometimes there are just evil options. What then?

South Africa is one of those classic examples where many other countries -- and people all over the world -- disagreed with apartheid. Pressure put on South Africa from outside I think is widely considered to have helped produce change, and I don't think anyone feels bad about that.
But is restricting freedom of information, which I believe a complete ban of SEs would be, doing that? IMHO, far worse is perpetrated by all the Joe Lunchpals and Sally Houswives that shop at Wallmart.

I bet a pretty penny that the PRC citizenry online prefer even a reduced Google over nothing.

I wonder as well where compromise lies in all this. If we can't compromise, no progress is possible. if we compromise too much, we risk losing gains. The Googel decision should be viewed in th context not of rigth and wrong, but of which direction the freedoms are moving.

IMHO, and it is just mine, this is a good starting point, especially when the alternative is China reverting to a 100% sanatised web, with only veted sites allowed. No one wants that, not even those that oppose this situation, and if we want to avoid that, we need to look for acceptable compromises, of which this is one.

If, however, this situation stays static for 10 years, I will be calling for reform. But right here, rigth now, if this is as bad as Web Access in China gets, it is a very solid foundation to build from.

dannysullivan
01-30-2006, 08:10 AM
But is restricting freedom of information, which I believe a complete ban of SEs would be, doing that? IMHO, far worse is perpetrated by all the Joe Lunchpals and Sally Houswives that shop at Wallmart.
There is no complete ban on search engines. Google was not suffering a complete ban. People trying to search on uncensored Google for forbidden terms would hit problems. Those doing "innocent" searches found the service to be spotted as the Google Blog explained, but not always. In addition, those making use of proxy servers had an easier time. Beyond that, there are other search engines already providing the Chinese with search information. Google owns 4 percent of one of those -- Baidu. Or they can use Yahoo China, or MSN.

In short, it's not a case that if Google didn't do this, the Chinese wouldn't be able to search. It's more that by doing this, they'll be able to better search *specifically with Google* now. That's perhaps a benefit to the Chinese people, if you think Google is that much better than other Chinese search engines. I don't know enough on that to be able to say. But if Google is NOT that superior, then all this does is benefit Google.

this is a good starting point, especially when the alternative is China reverting to a 100% sanatised web, with only veted sites allowed. No one wants that, not even those that oppose this situation, and if we want to avoid that, we need to look for acceptable compromises, of which this is one
This makes no sense. Before Google did this, they offered an uncensored version that the Chinese government messed with, though there were ways around that. Aside from Google, all the approved search engines are doing that sanation you worry about. Now Google's doing that as well. They're doing disclosure of removals, which is good. But they're still filtering. If anything, they've moved further toward helping what you say no one wants.

Alan Perkins
01-30-2006, 08:16 AM
I think the motto is "Do No Evil," Alan, not "Do The Lesser Evil." Maybe they need to change that :)In an environment in which you're "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" then "Do no evil" is clearly impossible.

Evil in NOT going into China? Because how? Because by not agreeing to widespread censorship, Google won't be as fast. This hurts China how? There are plenty of Google alternatives to Google.Just like there are outside China too. That doesn't mean that Google should not choose to do business there, too.

What this all seems to come down to - which you in fact said, Danny, and which I agree with - is Google's motto:
It would be just another company (US, Danish, Argentinian, whatever) agreeing to Chinese demands and a non-issue except that Google itself very publicly set this entire "Do No Evil" thing in motion as a guiding principle.As well as their motto they also have their mission. "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." To do that effectively in China they need to have a presence in China. To have an effective presence in China they also need to have a Chinese Web site. Tf they live by their motto and their mission, it's possible (and it seems Google thinks likely) they can do more good for freedom in China by being there than by not being there. You may not agree. IMO it's too early to see whether the choice they have made is the right one or not, so I'm prepared to wait and see.

Why? I mean, if that's the local law, what's Google going to do, say no? And say no in a year from now, when that market grows so much they cannot afford to pull out?Yes, I would hope that's exactly what they would say and do, if necessary. And if they don't, then I'm with you - evil. That would be the time to judge. Not yet, IMO.

dannysullivan
01-30-2006, 09:16 AM
As well as their motto they also have their mission. "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." To do that effectively in China they need to have a presence in China.

I'll beat the dead horse one more time. Or do that effectively, they need NOT to have a presence in China. Because if a big major company like Google actually stood up and said no, what you want is simply not acceptable, that might promote faster change. It would certainly put pressure on other companies to do the same. Instead, they can all fall back on the "that's just the way it is" argument.

To have an effective presence in China they also need to have a Chinese Web site.

They had one before this change was announced, at the same place now, google.cn. It simply wasn't as useful because China was doing the blocking.


Of they live by their motto and their mission, it's possible (and it seems Google thinks likely) they can do more good for freedom in China by being there than by not being there.

They don't seem much worried about freedom. That word's not mentioned once in their official post. What they do say is this:

Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By launching Google.cn and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure within China, we intend to change that.
They make it sound like it was a choice of some information or no information. That's not true. They could have continued to offer Google.cn without filtering just as they still do with Google.com, and people could have continued going there/ But by doing this, they hope to change the usability of the site -- not the fact that material will be censored on it either by Google or China.

OK, they do throw out this bone:

We aren't happy about what we had to do this week, and we hope that over time everyone in the world will come to enjoy full access to information. But how is that full access most likely to be achieved? We are convinced that the Internet, and its continued development through the efforts of companies like Google, will effectively contribute to openness and prosperity in the world. Our continued engagement with China is the best (perhaps only) way for Google to help bring the tremendous benefits of universal information access to all our users there.
Again, nothing about freedom, but certainly something about full access to information. But to say this is "perhaps" the only way isn't correct. It was an easier way. As for how change will happen, it all might have been easier to swallow if they'd provided more details about that, rather than this we'll cross our fingers, build our marketshare, make some money and see what happens approach.

Seriously -- who exactly is going to push for change if not Google? What other company has tried to put themselves forward as having some type of moral grounding in the information business. I simply cannot help but see Google surrender here as a big fat signal to the Chinese government that, at least for US companies, they can continue to do as they please since everyone wants access to the market.

Alan Perkins
01-30-2006, 09:34 AM
Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By launching Google.cn and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure within China, we intend to change that. They make it sound like it was a choice of some information or no information. That's not true.Yes, it is true on those instances when Google.com simply is not available - and I think this is what Google is referring to. If their site is not reachable, then it is not there. You also said:They had one before this change was announced, at the same place now, google.cn. It simply wasn't as useful because China was doing the blocking.It might be the same URL, but it now can be located in China - and that's the point. Google wants to locate Web servers in China to serve the Chinese market and provide a reliable service to that market. At the same time it continues to offer the Google.com site which is not a reliable service and which now could be blocked whilst still providing access to Google.cn.
Seriously -- who exactly is going to push for change if not Google? What other company has tried to put themselves forward as having some type of moral grounding in the information business. I simply cannot help but see Google surrender here as a big fat signal to the Chinese government that, at least for US companies, they can continue to do as they please since everyone wants access to the market.IMO "surrender" is a loaded and inappropriate word. I still think it's too soon to judge what the effect of this decision will be.

mcanerin
01-30-2006, 12:20 PM
It doesn't hurt China for Google not to be there. It hurts Google.
I think that's very true. Baidu works pretty well, and so do other search engines there. As long as Googles anti-spam systems don't seem to be as effective on non-English sites as they do on English ones, I'm not sure there is a big difference between the search engines in the PRC.

I'm helping run the China Search Marketing Tour (http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?t=9672) and I've been thinking a lot about the effects of search marketing in China recently. There is another thread at SEW about the tour itself, so I'd like to keep this post about search marketing in general and it's effects on the issues raised in this thread.

Some questions:

1) What role, if any, do you see for search marketing in China in view of the censored results? Do you think it will have any effect at all?

2) It's illegal in China to have product comparisions (X is better than Y), even if you back up the claims. How would this affect your marketing?

3) If you object to doing business in China, then should you also object to doing business TO China? Ie offering your products / services to the Chinese market? Is there a difference? Why? What about buying FROM China?

Ian

Mikkel deMib Svendsen
01-30-2006, 12:58 PM
In addition to your questions, Ian, how will Google make sure to comply with the filtering when it comes to cloaked websites? :)

rcjordan
01-30-2006, 01:10 PM
The real problem that Google has created for itself is that users can see how search engines are able to manipulate search results. Who can from now on believe that whatever search results we see -- also outside China -- are a true reflection of reality or the product of a corporate strategy?

Interesting summary-du-jour from Poynter Online (http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=31&aid=95984), I liked the "airbrushing reality" comment, good turn of a phrase.

Alan Perkins
01-30-2006, 01:11 PM
1) What role, if any, do you see for search marketing in China in view of the censored results? Do you think it will have any effect at all?Of course. You'll have to be careful to avoid using certain words, or linking to certain sites.

<tip>Use words like "the group" instead of "Falun Gong". Link via a cloaked redirect.</tip> ;)

2) It's illegal in China to have product comparisions (X is better than Y), even if you back up the claims. How would this affect your marketing?Um, not run comparisons?

3) If you object to doing business in China, then should you also object to doing business TO China? Ie offering your products / services to the Chinese market? Is there a difference? Why? What about buying FROM China?And Chinese expats? No objections to any of that. I differentiate doing business with Chinese people from doing business with the Chinese government.

mcanerin
01-30-2006, 01:27 PM
re: cloaking

Ooooooohhh... Leave to to Mikkel to come up with that angle ;)

Excellent question, though. Normally modern cloaking is fairly targeted (though I still disagree with it, we've had that discussion elsewhere and this is not the time to revisit it) but I could see someone with a political agenda cloaking information in order to bypass Google.

As someone once said, "where there is a will, there is a won't". :)

If I was setting up a censorship system, I'd focus on the ISP's rather than the individual websites. Monitoring clickstreams would seem to be more transparent and effective. I imagine it would be very resource intensive, though. It's way easier to convince or force people to censor themselves.

Speaking of which, here is another problem. IMO, most censorship is initiated or demanded by citizens, not governments. There are a great many people who feel that homosexuality, sex of any sort, political views they don't like, religious views they don't like, other peoples hobbies and a great many other things should be censored.

I'll bet you something else (though I have no proof) - if you took a poll right now, I'll bet that a significant number (and very likely a majority) of people in China would vote in favor of most if not all of the censorship we are discussing.

This is one of the reasons why there are no major "pure" democracies - there is almost always a constitution, charter of rights, etc that helps protect minorites and human rights.

As an example, an advertisor for a popular breath mint ran a TV ad a while ago that was very innocous by US standards and downright boring by European standards, where a man with an unbuttoned shirt dove into a pool to show the cooling effect of the mint in question.

Not only was there a huge outcry about the ad, but they were still getting complaint letters 2 YEARS later! This in an area (Shanghai) where you can easily find sex shops on a large number of street corners.

In China there doesn't seem to be a difference between "daytime" and "nightime" TV. It's assumed that anything parents watch, so could children. Therefore the thinking appears to be that almost everything in the mass media should be rated "G".

That also includes the internet. Once you wrap your head around that, the problem becomes a lot clearer (and more complicated).

Ian

Mikkel deMib Svendsen
01-30-2006, 02:06 PM
Therefore the thinking appears to be that almost everything in the mass media should be rated "G".

I don't know much about the details of US cencorship, but what does tha "G" stand for ? ... Google? :)

mcanerin
01-30-2006, 02:12 PM
what does tha "G" stand for ? ... Google?

ROFL!

On the off chance you were serious (or someone else doesn't know), it means "General" - ie suitable for all ages.

You know, we need a good industry cartoon strip (like Dilbert (http://www.dilbert.com/), User Friendly (http://www.userfriendly.org/), etc), because you just gave me a great idea for an episode, though ,alas, I don't have the artistic skill to actually do it.

Ian

Brad
01-30-2006, 07:59 PM
Are there any other non-Peoples Republic of China search engines left that have significant databases in Chinese and are not censoring their search results to comply with the dictates of the Communist Party of China or the government of the PRC?

Ask? Gigablast? Do either of these have significant Chinese pages indexed and available?

andrewgoodman
01-31-2006, 12:48 AM
I agree. It is up to the Chinese people. But countries make changes based in part on the influences of other countries and world opinion. That's part of diplomacy, whether it's government backed diplomacy or citizen-based changes.

South Africa is one of those classic examples where many other countries -- and people all over the world -- disagreed with apartheid. Pressure put on South Africa from outside I think is widely considered to have helped produce change, and I don't think anyone feels bad about that.


IMHO, South Africa & apartheid was a slightly more obvious case.

Depending on your values, there are many, many countries around the world where the government or the majority of citizens enforce or hold values that are pretty much 180 to mine. Obviously the greatest human suffering should take the most precedent, followed by political repression and severe forms of discrimination.

The fact is, political repression and censorship (similar or worse to what China practices) is rampant around the world. If you take the example of Cuba, there are pockets of investment there -- resorts and so forth. These are European companies mostly who expect rapid growth when things become more free there. They perhaps believe these small zones of free market activity contribute a bit to the push for democracy. Moreover, in these places, CNN and all the major TV stations are available by satellite ... to tourists. Not to locals. Do the hotel companies refuse to do business there? Does CNN refuse to have its feed piped into the hotels? No.

And you could name many places where human rights aren't equal to all people. Places where strict laws apply to women and not men, etc. In most of these places, "Google" -- along with many other technology companies -- do business.

Trying to effect change in the world is simply more complex than boycotting countries that repress or seem backward to someone like me. I don't pretend to know much beyond that.

When I see us cutting off trade in goods, arms, oil, etc. with the dozens of high-profile, repressive, warlike regimes around the world, I'll be willing to squint a little harder at this Google case. I'm not entirely convinced they're doing the wrong thing by keeping a toehold in the world's most populous place, and I assume they believe that they are at least not contributing to repression. Google or no Google, "do no evil" stupid mantra dreamt up by engineering guys who never cracked a history or philosophy book or no stupid mantra, political repression would be something to contend with and advocate against around the globe. Is Google doing business in any given country making it more or less possible for citizens in that country or elsewhere to advocate against repression?

donelson
01-31-2006, 04:47 AM
Honestly, Google is doing what all self-deceiving people an corporations do...

Gee, we are so holy that it is better we do this awful thing rather than doing nothing at all and deprive them of our Wonderfullness.

Disgusting. Just as Evil as all other companies doing business there. EvilRank = 7. (Note: EvilRank Slobodon Milosovic = 9, Saddam Hussein = 10)

socalinoxford
01-31-2006, 08:01 AM
I have seen little discussion regarding the financial implications of the Google/China decisions, which surely must be considered. A CEO and executive management team has a responsibility to maximize profits - regardless of any marketing motto.

Google must have considered the revenue and growth implications of unfettered access to the largest population and fastest growing economy in the world. Anything else would have been illegal - a management team must consider revenue in their thoughts.

The reality is Google made a business decision as much a moral decision - arguable at the expense of a moral decision - however, little attention is being paid to this consideration.

dannysullivan
01-31-2006, 08:57 AM
I have seen little discussion regarding the financial implications of the Google/China decisions, which surely must be considered. A CEO and executive management team has a responsibility to maximize profits - regardless of any marketing motto.
I don't know about that. Hey, I could maximized profits by employing underage children in third world countries to make tennis shoes. It doesn't mean I do this. I'm not a financial expert, but I think there's a difference between prudently running a company and making money no matter what.

Moreover, it's not like any investors are going to get a surprise if Google doesn't want to do some things. They were told this in the IPO filing:

As a private company, we have concentrated on the long term, and this has served us well. As a public company, we will do the same. In our opinion, outside pressures too often tempt companies to sacrifice long-term opportunities to meet quarterly market expectations. Sometimes this pressure has caused companies to manipulate financial results in order to “make their quarter.” In Warren Buffett’s words, “We won’t ‘smooth’ quarterly or annual results: If earnings figures are lumpy when they reach headquarters, they will be lumpy when they reach you.”

and this

Google is not a conventional company. Eric, Sergey and I intend to operate Google differently, applying the values it has developed as a private company to its future as a public company. Our mission and business description are available in the rest of the prospectus; we encourage you to carefully read this information. We will optimize for the long term rather than trying to produce smooth earnings for each quarter. We will support selected high-risk, high-reward projects and manage our portfolio of projects. We will run the company collaboratively with Eric, our CEO, as a team of three. We are conscious of our duty as fiduciaries for our shareholders, and we will fulfill those responsibilities. We will continue to attract creative, committed new employees, and we will welcome support from new shareholders. We will live up to our “don’t be evil” principle by keeping user trust and not accepting payment for search results. We have a dual-class structure that is biased toward stability and independence and that requires investors to bet on the team, especially Sergey and me.

If anything, I could see some investors saying you promised to build a Do Not Evil company and now have failed on that promise. But you could hardly say you weren't warned they might not make money wherever they go. Heck, they could make money by running gun ads. They don't, because they don't want to make money that way. No one suggests there will be an investor revolt over that.

Mikkel deMib Svendsen
01-31-2006, 10:23 AM
, I could maximized profits by employing underage children in third world countries to make tennis shoes.

You mean, like Nike :D

Alan Perkins
01-31-2006, 12:56 PM
Heck, they could make money by running gun ads. They don't, because they don't want to make money that way.No, "Want gun ads? Go to Google.com" is clearly not the image they want to portray. But "Live in China and want search results? Go to Google.cn" is closer to the mission, if not the motto.

Yesterday's EFF piece, "Chinese New Year: Resolutions for Google (http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004362.php)", seemed very well rounded - especially the parts about avoiding personalisation, and in particular personally identifiiable information. There were two only two slight negatives with this piece. One, it did not acknowledge that the current Google.com was still available and would remain so (in its patchy way). Two, it did not mention that everything (and more) that the Chinese government could get from Google, it can likely already get from Chinese ISPs.

mcanerin
01-31-2006, 01:14 PM
Two, it did not mention that everything (and more) that the Chinese government could get from Google, it can likely already get from Chinese ISPs

And it should have.

Look, everyone seems to be assuming that the Chinese were searching for and finding information that is on the censors list before, and now, because of Google.cn, they can't.

Nonsense. Google.com works differently in China than it does in the US. The things that are censored are still censored, but since it's an outside program stopping the results, the entire search is killed.

Want to destroy your competitors rankings on Google.com from inside China?

Create a website mentioning their company and product, along with some censored terms, and then promote it. Anyone searching for that company or it's products would get a search result that included your "poison pill" site at say, number 5, will be totally stopped, including the companies own site at number 1. You now own the online market because no one can see the results that include your competitor.

You may be thinking that's a good thing, but the company you just destroyed is probably thinking "evil".

Google.cn, by censoring results before they are displayed, could not be used in that fashion, because the outside censorship software would not kick in. Only the censored listing would be removed, not the whole search.

A similar thing happens to me at my desk here in Canada, land of the free and home of the brave. I have Cybersitter installed on my system at home because I let my kids use it during off hours. Accordingly, their profile includes Google with safe search ON.

Why? Well, because if it's off, the searches are almost unusable sometimes. If they do a search ("ie free games") and just one of the results has adult or other censored words in it, the Cybersitter program shuts the whole search down, and my kids get nothing at all.

On the other hand, if Safe Search is on, then Cybersitter never kicks in and you can actually get what you are looking for. From their perspective, this is a good thing, not an evil one.

Ian

St0n3y
01-31-2006, 01:20 PM
No, "Want gun ads? Go to Google.com" is clearly not the image they want to portray. But "Live in China and want search results? Go to Google.cn" is closer to the mission, if not the motto.

I don't know how you can say that. Google's mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Let's break that down. 1) Being in china has nothing do do with organizing the worlds information as Google is not gaining any new information to organize by this move. So let's set this aside as not being relevant.

2) make it universally accessible and useful. I would argue that censoring information does not make the information "universally accessible" to the Chinese, nor is it particularly useful when you know that the only thing allowed through (on certain topics) is government propaganda.

As for the motto "do no evil". Is it more or less evil to censor the results for money, or not to censor results and leave that up to the Chinese government?

BradBristol
01-31-2006, 02:39 PM
I am not a big supporter of google, never have been, but I think that they are getting a bad rap on the China censorship issue.

I think there is one very large, very very important fact that almost everyone has over looked.... Google is telling the Chinese people everyday that the information they wanted to see has been censored by their government.

In the past censored information just disappeared never to be seen or heard again, you know the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind”. Well google is putting government censorship in the Chinese peoples faces, so they can’t forget government censorship or put it out of their mind.

Do any of you have any idea what a powerful tool for freedom and against censorship that is?

Mark my words, the Chinese government is going to regret that they allowed google to show the people of China everyday that their government is censoring their information and ideas.

In my opinion, Google should be applauded for this move to help broaden freedom in China, not crucified.

dannysullivan
01-31-2006, 05:24 PM
I think there is one very large, very very important fact that almost everyone has over looked.... Google is telling the Chinese people everyday that the information they wanted to see has been censored by their government.
Yes, I kind of agree, in the sense that since they are providing disclosure of when material is removed, that might help Chinese searchers be more aware that this is happening.

However, I think a good number had the idea it was happening already when they tried to search and Google would get stalled or messed up. I mean, if that happened to you, you'd quickly ask around and someone would explain it to you.

The disclosures are also pretty wishy-washy. They have a generic "in response to local laws" statement. How about something stronger, such as results censored by the government.

As for saying this everyday, that's not also quite true. I mean, you're only going to get that warning if you do a search on something that triggers the filter. In contrast, how about putting on EVERY page a note that Google operates according to government censorship, sort of the way news broadcasters sometimes give statements when they are in war zones?

Mark my words, the Chinese government is going to regret that they allowed google to show the people of China everyday that their government is censoring their information and ideas.

You might be right. It might down the line grow awareness. Previously, I had been all for the idea that if you had to censor, at least disclose this. I had a big change of heart, however. I ultimately found that the compliance seemed worse than the disclosure. Everything I've read from those in China seems to be they know that censorship is happening. Some of them just accept it as a fact of life. Some of them might not mind it. Some of them might support it, in the way that some people will support whatever their government does, assuming that's a patriotic move. Some are disheartened by it. No one seems to have said that the disclosures will likely change much, from what I read.

I still feel like that if Google had taken a stand, it would have put more pressure on Yahoo and MSN not to be caving in -- and then perhaps more pressure on other companies outside China not to cave in. But if Google can't say no, when it wanted to occupy the high moral ground of "Don't Be Evil," I'm at a loss to know what big, non-Chinese company is going to do that.

socalinoxford
01-31-2006, 07:08 PM
It seems like the wool has been pulled down. This means billions to Google - and that amount of money certainly has an impact.

Argument: Google never thought about the money.
Reponse: That would be irresponsible management.

So why isn't anyone questioning Google on the potential profits of this arrangement?

projectphp
01-31-2006, 07:34 PM
Um, because they are self evident and the question presupposses that profit is bad, most likely!

Nice post Ian! I think, in any censorship debate, we get caught up in an absolute rather than comparing what is really true.

Question though: If I link to a competitor with "Falun Gong", will that kill their rankings? Not the whole SERP, just their rankings fullstop? Link reputation could still be a killer!

playerzero
01-31-2006, 08:04 PM
i would just like to comment that, while i certainly disapprove of the level of censorship required to do business in china, i also disapprove of the level required to do business in the u.s.

when you see that notice that content has been omitted due to dmca regulations, that's censorship. hopefully some day we will get past that too, but in the meantime that form of censorship is required of google in order to do business in the united states. so it complies. it could take the stance that enforcing the dmca is contrary to its mission (imho, it is), and refuse to do business in the u.s. but that would widely be seen as preposterous. given the very real possibility that china is poised to become *the* most important market in the world, it only makes sense to get in now. all this talk about "be less evil" vs. "don't be evil" seems sort of silly to me, because "evil" is a very, very subjective concept. the chinese government thinks it's evil to disrupt society by spreading info that it deems harmful to the state. the u.s. goverment thinks it's evil to spread information on how to freely obtain material that is copyrighted by powerful organizations like the mpaa and riaa. i personally think neither of these things is evil, and wish that google would refuse to comply with either of these requests.

that's not the world we live in. not yet.

BradBristol
01-31-2006, 08:18 PM
The disclosures are also pretty wishy-washy. They have a generic "in response to local laws" statement. How about something stronger, such as results censored by the government.I agree, but I am sure that the Chinese Government would not allow the statement to be much stronger than it currently is.

As for saying this everyday, that's not also quite true.Your right, it won’t be everyday, unless the person is searching for censored ‘keywords’ everyday. :)

In contrast, how about putting on EVERY page a note that Google operates according to government censorship, sort of the way news broadcasters sometimes give statements when they are in war zones?Hmm, that is really not workable, it would like requireing every product made in China to be labeled “Made in Communist China by child labor, forced (slave) labor and/or other exploited workers.”, I don’t think that would not look very good on my snazzy new Tennis Shoes or my Glasses, Toaster Oven, Speakers, Printer, Keyboard, Chair, Coffee Cup... etcetera...


No one seems to have said that the disclosures will likely change much, from what I read.I may be standing alone here, but as far as I am concerned, people are people no matter where they live. I have yet to meet anyone in their right mind that enjoys being censored or not being able to receive information because someone somewhere said you should not have it. Of course, if people are not aware that the censorship is going on, it is not going to bother them at all.

I still feel like that if Google had taken a stand... I agree, I would love to see ANY US Company take an active stand against some of the things that are going on in China. But I do think that it is unfair to put google down, after soooo many other US and British Companies have embraced China.

After following Mr. Page and Mr. Brin for many years now, I find the idea that Mr. Brin, in particular, would allow ‘his’ Company to help or support any Communist Government, even for several boat loads of money... laughable.

dannysullivan
02-01-2006, 06:29 AM
when you see that notice that content has been omitted due to dmca regulations, that's censorship. hopefully some day we will get past that too,
Agreed, it is a form a censorship. The difference is there's an appeals process to it.

I am sure that the Chinese Government would not allow the statement to be much stronger than it currently is.
I'm not. I can't imagine they wanted any statement at all, but it is there. C'mon. Google's got to have some weight in all this. They will make money for Chinese businesses and the Chinese government. It's something I'm actually following up on.

Hmm, that is really not workable, it would like requireing every product made in China to be labeled “Made in Communist China by child labor, forced (slave) labor and/or other exploited workers.”, I don’t think that would not look very good on my snazzy new Tennis Shoes or my Glasses, Toaster Oven, Speakers, Printer, Keyboard, Chair, Coffee Cup...
If I can buy a can of Dolphin-Safe Tuna, Google can put a note on every page of Google China that results are subject to widespread censorship in addition to actually flagging it when it happens. I wish I read Chinese so I could see if they had an extended help area about this.

But I do think that it is unfair to put google down, after soooo many other US and British Companies have embraced China.
They deserve everything they are getting. The other companies have not climbed up on a pedestal and said "Don't Be Evil." Google did. By doing so, they implied that all other companies are evil in some way. Now they show themselves willing, self-admittedly willing, to be evil themselves. This would be far less of an issue if they hadn't set themselves up in this way.

Interestingly, they're taking a slamming right now because they had great earrnings but not as high as Wall Street expected. From the beginning, they said they wouldn't give estimates of earnings. So they're being beat upon for not hitting targets they never set. In constrast, with China, they precisely set a target of not being evil that they've failed to achieve.

ChristopherKnoch
02-01-2006, 09:55 AM
Danny:

I understand your point about Google putting themselves on a pedestal to "Do No Evil", but I can't help but see this as a foothold for the free flow of information. I'd rather have a company who's motto is "Do No Evil" working in a closed society like this than most other companies.

Many governments and corporations have made concessions like this to China, and in the short term it is not very desirable. However, if you look at the growth of the Chinese economy then you can see the real results. More freedoms are being handed out each year (even if there are far too few), and the flow of money and information into the country is just going to help that.

A democracy cannot really be cultivated or survive without a strong middle class that has time to review things like what their leaders are doing, rather than just living hand to mouth. Its a step forward in my opinion. We're nowhere close to where we need to be, but most journies are made one step at a time.

That's just my two cents...

Alan Perkins
02-01-2006, 12:33 PM
I still feel like that if Google had taken a stand, it would have put more pressure on Yahoo and MSN not to be caving in -- and then perhaps more pressure on other companies outside China not to cave in. Yahoo and MSN are in even more difficult positions as ISPs as well as search engines. It seems that, as an ISP, Yahoo has already provided data that was used in the conviction of one citizen for ten years.

StevenJames
02-01-2006, 11:16 PM
I'll bet you something else (though I have no proof) - if you took a poll right now, I'll bet that a significant number (and very likely a majority) of people in China would vote in favor of most if not all of the censorship we are discussing.


Sorry but I have to disagree and hope myths like this do not perpetuate. As I stated previously, most people get around the blocks. Google China will now make that exceedingly more difficult.

For instance, the recent SARS flu scare made millions here angry and there were MANY protests. Google Com helped us know what was up in our own backyard even though the central government went to amazing lengths to block ALL information about the disease -- including blocking local news reporters from interviewing hospital staff, etc. It was only after such angry, energetic protests that the president fired the head of the Ministry of Information and opened up all the SARS reporting to the people. This would NEVER have happened without our 'unofficial' sources of information.

There is however a large degree of apathy here toward any 'missing or blocked information' regarding certain topics the government censors, since it more or less addresses subjects like F*l*n G*ng (commonly held to be a harmful cult of religiously racist zealots -- and rightly so) as well as issues of Taiwanese Independence, which most people here ignore and see as largely boring.


As an example, an advertisor for a popular breath mint ran a TV ad a while ago that was very innocous by US standards and downright boring by European standards, where a man with an unbuttoned shirt dove into a pool to show the cooling effect of the mint in question.


Really? Never heard about this.


Not only was there a huge outcry about the ad, but they were still getting complaint letters 2 YEARS later! This in an area (Shanghai) where you can easily find sex shops on a large number of street corners.


Lived in Shanghai for many years and now live in Beijing -- this is an exaggeration, though not by much. ;)


In China there doesn't seem to be a difference between "daytime" and "nightime" TV. It's assumed that anything parents watch, so could children. Therefore the thinking appears to be that almost everything in the mass media should be rated "G".

That also includes the internet. Once you wrap your head around that, the problem becomes a lot clearer (and more complicated).

Ian

I agree here, but the heavily regulated local broadcast and print media cannot be compared to the internet with it's rather unique international accessibility..

Anyway, I dsagree with Google's willingness to audit and censor officially black-listed sites and I believe it will simply make things more difficult as exampled above for the average citizen here.

But let's try not to forget that, beyond it's rather altruistic mission statement, Google is just another massive corporation now with shareholders who dictate their marketing strategies -- to think differently is to be fooling ourselves.

Cheers,
Steve

mcanerin
02-02-2006, 12:49 AM
Excellent to get clear headed, local feedback, Steve,

Regarding SARS - you are right, of course. And corruption, and other things that directly affect peoples lives personally and profoundly. I was thinking more about things like porn, high level politics, etc. Your point about apathy is better worded than mine.

The commercial was actually for Halls Vita C in 2000. Pretty innocuous by western standards. A guy dives into a pool without a shirt on. That's it. You see guys without shirts on all the time in China, but in this case he was good looking and the filming was done to show him as being "sexy" instead of just being a hard worker in a hot climate - and that was apparently enough.

The last I heard, there was an official rule for commercials that the length between the throat and neckline cannot exceed 13cm. I guess "no shirt at all" exceeded that... ;)

Exaggeration about sex shops - OK - I admit it. It's not THAT bad, but it's surprising at first if you go in with preconceived notions of what's allowable based on advertising rules.

I agree here, but the heavily regulated local broadcast and print media cannot be compared to the internet with it's rather unique international accessibility..

*I* agree with you on this, but I'm not sure the government does, if you catch my meaning. I'm not sure many governments do, when first dealing with the internet. They usually tried to pigeon hole it as "TV" or something rather than treating it as something totally different.

I remember the US (and Canadian) post offices talking about selling virtual "stamps" for email since they had the monopoly on "mail" years ago, for example. It died a quick death, but the fact that they were even thinking about it shows the world-wide bureaucratic inability to deal with new paradigms, I think.

Will you be in SES Nanjing or on the China Search Marketing Tour? I'd like to compare notes :)

Cheers,

Ian

StevenJames
02-02-2006, 04:43 AM
Excellent to get clear headed, local feedback, Steve,

Regarding SARS - you are right, of course. And corruption, and other things that directly affect peoples lives personally and profoundly. I was thinking more about things like porn, high level politics, etc. Your point about apathy is better worded than mine.

The commercial was actually for Halls Vita C in 2000. Pretty innocuous by western standards. A guy dives into a pool without a shirt on. That's it. You see guys without shirts on all the time in China, but in this case he was good looking and the filming was done to show him as being "sexy" instead of just being a hard worker in a hot climate - and that was apparently enough.

The last I heard, there was an official rule for commercials that the length between the throat and neckline cannot exceed 13cm. I guess "no shirt at all" exceeded that... ;)

Exaggeration about sex shops - OK - I admit it. It's not THAT bad, but it's surprising at first if you go in with preconceived notions of what's allowable based on advertising rules.


So interesting, the ambiguity in the rules here, however, one needs to take into consideration the element of corruption as well -- a competing Chinese product to Halls (and there are millions of 'medicines' for sale here) would see all sorts of mischief occur. For example, I (being a foreigner as reason only) appeared in a large-budget local Beijing TV commercial for a unisexual herbal 'libido-enhancer' full of references and animations of heaving breasts and throbbing penises. I was asked to wear a business suit and sit at a table of 'scientific experts' and nod my head and smile when commanded to by the director. I was not aware of the nature of the ad in it's final edit and only informed later of the context by many laughing Chinese friends.

Additionally, this is the only place on earth I have seen a mini-sex shop booth with full array of tools and toys of very obvious purpose smack in the middle of the super market (between the cereal and frozen meats sections) manned by an attractive and apparently well-trained young woman; constantly twirling about these various implements while yapping at painful volumes over a small, belt-mounted loud speaker; mothers and small children milling about the aisle, nonchalant.

A land of many contradictions is the best way to describe it, and the corruption element should not be underestimated. All one has to do is look at the image of an elderly, grey-haired Chinese man with anti-bellum white dinner jacket and small black bowtie advertising 'Southern Style Chicken' -- often opposite or in close proximity to our own Col Sander's twin (yet caucasian) visage. Couple this concern's rapid business expansion with recent national-media-reported 'news' that KFC uses a "poisenous food coloring" in it's celebrated recipe and you get the picture.

No wonder many of my local friends here laugh and live with such characteristically stoic cynicism -- it's a bizarro-world of contradiction.

Anyway, I still and will continue to insist that Google has done us harm here -- and I believe I can report back here in a few weeks with proof. If only they had spent some more time on the ground here. I am getting rather tired of "China Experts" who've never set foot outside the Sheraton. :rolleyes:


*I* agree with you on this, but I'm not sure the government does, if you catch my meaning. I'm not sure many governments do, when first dealing with the internet. They usually tried to pigeon hole it as "TV" or something rather than treating it as something totally different.

I remember the US (and Canadian) post offices talking about selling virtual "stamps" for email since they had the monopoly on "mail" years ago, for example. It died a quick death, but the fact that they were even thinking about it shows the world-wide bureaucratic inability to deal with new paradigms, I think.

Will you be in SES Nanjing or on the China Search Marketing Tour? I'd like to compare notes :)

Cheers,

Ian

Indeed, as is the case in the USA and the UK as well (or has been) -- governments largely deal too much in skewed stats and idealistic visions of policy-effect (or it's promised, theorized output) to consider rationally the internet in action with the standard human being. For sure -- it is the greatest paradigm since the steam engine, no doubt about it.

Actually, I was invited to post my thoughts here by Dan Sullivan, after I had emailed him my comments on this article. I was lead to his article by, of all things, Google News (still accessible as of 17:00 today) where SEW and this article's headline was sitting at a prominent screen position. I am sorry to admit that otherwise I had no idea of what SEW is about or that it even existed.

The fact that you will have some gatherings in Nanjing and a China Marketing Tour for something as seemingly esoteric (to me) as "Search Engine Watchers" is fabulous!

Nanjing is quite far from Beijing, but if you're by here on your tour, give me a shout and we'll have a beer or three. ;)

Cheers,
Steve

wjhjr
02-07-2006, 02:09 PM
I will continue to use Google but I will never click on a sponsored ad again. :mad:

megadecabyte
02-09-2006, 04:45 PM
As much a I love Google, I feel compelled to find a new search engine that is not participating in censorship in China. Sounds like MSN and Yahoo may be following suit with Google. Is there a good Search engine out there with integrity? One that will not succumb to political censorship? If there is, please let me know and I'll vote my conscience by changing to them. Freedom of speech is not optional, it is a key factor in solving problems on a world wide stage. Google has committed an unforgivable sin that contradicts it's purpose to the core.

Brad
02-09-2006, 05:10 PM
Is there a good Search engine out there with integrity? One that will not succumb to political censorship? If there is, please let me know and I'll vote my conscience by changing to them.

Any search engine that actually has a corporate presence in China is pretty much going to have to obey the dictates of the Chinese government. So what you really need is a search engine not in China. There are not a lot left: try Ask.com, Gigablast.com and maybe Exalead.com

mcanerin
02-09-2006, 10:25 PM
Any search engine based in the US is going to have to obey the dictates of the US government. Based on recent events, that's not much more confidence inspiring.

Maybe I should start a search engine based in some country with no history of violating and ignoring human rights. Though I'm not sure I can find one. :(

Ian

illuminatedwax
02-12-2006, 11:03 PM
Does anyone realize that it's only the Chinese page that is censored? In fact, when you go to www.google.cn, Google links to the American site. If you click on that link, you can look up words like 'democracy' and 'tianenmen square' all you want and look at all the pictures of tanks you want.

This isn't censorship, it's a mild annoyance. The fact is, google.com used to be blocked completely, and now it's not.

Why is this even an issue?

megadecabyte
02-12-2006, 11:14 PM
Why is this even an issue?

Only one reason, because Google has always claimed to be on higher ground than other corporations. I understand that MSN, and Yahoo, and everyone else folds to censorship. If Google revises it's Mission statements and acknowledges that it's sole purpose it to make money for it's investors regardless of the consequences than I'll be happy to keep using it. I just object to them claiming a higher ground when that is obviously not the case.

And yes I can click over from the China Google to the US Google, but it's unclear what happens when citizens of China do. I think it would be naive to say they are able to do that in complete anonimity.

illuminatedwax
02-12-2006, 11:18 PM
Only one reason, because Google has always claimed to be on higher ground than other corporations. I understand that MSN, and Yahoo, and everyone else folds to censorship. If Google revises it's Mission statements and acknowledges that it's sole purpose it to make money for it's investors regardless of the consequences than I'll be happy to keep using it. I just object to them claiming a higher ground when that is obviously not the case.

And yes I can click over from the China Google to the US Google, but it's unclear what happens when citizens of China do. I think it would be naive to say they are able to do that in complete anonimity.
But it's not even complete censorship; they, in effect, agreed to make it difficult to access "bad" material in exchange for not having their site blocked. I'd say giving the Chinese people a window out is better than locking them behind a brick wall (ie no Google).

Also, who's to say that when you search for "bad" things but don't find them, Google isn't recording that material? Google is currently fighting America's right to get that information; why wouldn't they fight China? At the very least, we'd be comparing apples with apples. This issue is a bit over-exaggerated.

Bizman
02-13-2006, 12:03 AM
If Chineese users want to get uncensored results, simply misspell your search term on purpose. You will get totally different results in this manner. The mis-spelling need only be slight.

My belief is that Google can only sensor correctly spelled search phrases.

mcanerin
02-13-2006, 12:16 AM
Tell you what - while I'm over there I'll do a bunch of searches and report on the results...from someone elses laptop... ;)

Ian

Jorge
02-15-2006, 06:34 AM
Some people seem to think it's not a big deal. Some even provide good ways to get around the censorship. I'm sure your average chinese will figure out as well as a professional SEO how to access non censored results. Well I believe it is actually not so easy to figure out. How many people here know someone who thinks the Internet IS google, as in "I opened google in my computer". I am not going to go any deeper but here are a couple of examples. Scary ...

Search for Tibet in both google china and google.com:

US:

http://www.google.es/search?svnum=100&hl=es&lr=lang_es%7Clang_en&cr=countryUS&safe=off&q=tibet&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda&sa=N&tab=iw

(http://www.google.es/search?svnum=100&hl=es&lr=lang_es%7Clang_en&cr=countryUS&safe=off&q=tibet&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda&sa=N&tab=iw)CHINA:

http://www.google.es/search?svnum=100&hl=es&lr=lang_es%7Clang_en&cr=countryCN&safe=off&q=tibet&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda&sa=N&tab=iw


(http://www.google.es/search?svnum=100&hl=es&lr=lang_es%7Clang_en&cr=countryCN&safe=off&q=tibet&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda&sa=N&tab=iw)How about google images search for Tiananmen?

US:

http://images.google.es/images?svnum=100&hl=es&lr=lang_es%7Clang_en&cr=countryUS&safe=off&q=tiananmen&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda


(http://images.google.es/images?svnum=100&hl=es&lr=lang_es%7Clang_en&cr=countryUS&safe=off&q=tiananmen&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda)CHINA:

http://images.google.es/images?svnum=100&hl=es&lr=lang_es%7Clang_en&cr=countryCN&safe=off&q=tiananmen&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda


(http://images.google.es/images?svnum=100&hl=es&lr=lang_es%7Clang_en&cr=countryCN&safe=off&q=tiananmen&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda)

StevenJames
02-17-2006, 09:15 AM
Does anyone realize that it's only the Chinese page that is censored? In fact, when you go to www.google.cn, Google links to the American site. If you click on that link, you can look up words like 'democracy' and 'tianenmen square' all you want and look at all the pictures of tanks you want.

This isn't censorship, it's a mild annoyance. The fact is, google.com used to be blocked completely, and now it's not.

Why is this even an issue?

Well, it doesn't work that way if you live here (Beijing in my case). But lets say, for the sake of argument, that it's easy to get around/bypass. The loss of face that US companies are experiencing in kowtowing to the restrictive regime here is hurtful -- perhaps even shameful. The USA was a beacon of hope for billions -- once. It still can be, or it can subvert its ideals in the name of corporate dollars and positive Q4 financial reports.

However, in reality it is NOT that easy for the average Chinese to get around the filters, and thus info on SARS outbreaks and/or anything else the central government wishes to filter from the public mind will simply not appear on many millions of screens.

Google has NEVER been officially blocked here -- it has become 'unavailable' from time to time for various reasons (such as during part of the SARS epidemic scare), but it has never been 'blocked' for long. However, now it will officially filter content at the behest of the central government.

So, in fact, it is now far worse than before, since it will not only redirect or deny queries for certain info which once it did not do, it will also list the requesting IP address -- such as mine.

Now Google has willingly and apparently quite eagerly placed itself in the same postition as Yahoo, whose recent IP tracking lead to the imprisonment of a journalist whose only crime was to present fact. "We're sorry about that." they say, but that's "...the cost of doing business in China..."

And, as, potentially, I could be detained or deported for even sending this text, who'd be all that bothered with my plight if such did happen?

Under the currently offered justification, I think I'd hear: "Well Steve, you knew the rules living there, so who's to blame?"

If that's the case then, how can anything ever be changed for the good? I'm no angry young radical -- I have a fifteen-year-old grand daughter.

I've been working in China for many years -- and most here like me have been wearing a sort of 'badge of freedom and honor' under our jackets. As an American, I am supposed to shut up?

Where the hell is our backup?

sheseltine
02-21-2006, 07:18 AM
The Beijing News reported on Tuesday that Google.cn, the recently launched service that accommodates China's censorship demands, "has not obtained the ICP (Internet content provider) license needed to operate Internet content services in China".

"Under China's policy framework for the Internet, Google.cn is clearly unlawful," said the China Business Times.

A Google spokeswoman said the newspaper reports were groundless. The company's licensing was "totally within the legal framework", she said.

...


But the China Business Times, a business paper with a sometimes nationalist slant, blasted Google for even telling users that links are censored.

"Does a business operating in China need to constantly tell customers that it's abiding by the laws of the land?" it said, adding that Google had "incited" a debate about censorship.


Reuters article (http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=internetNews&storyid=2006-02-21T054300Z_01_PEK146281_RTRUKOC_0_US-INTERNET-CHINA-GOOGLE.xml&rpc=22)

Midnight Cowboy
03-01-2006, 07:28 AM
Since I found out about Google's censorship in China, I have been thinking long and hard about whether to boycott it. Here is my conclusion.

Let's forget about Google for a minute and look at the wider picture. The Chinese Government doesn't have a good record regarding the way it treats its citizens, and if they complain they get locked up. Simple as that. Those of us in the free world (Western goverments, businesses and citizens) could protest against this by not trading or liaising with them in any way. But if we turn our back on them, the people are helpless because they cannot protest and the regime will continue indefinitely.

So what does the West do? Just saying "we don't like the way you run your country, please change it" won't achieve anything. Sanctions will not work, China has survived independently for many years. War? I'm suprised the US has never tried to steam in there, but it would be the mother of all wars. And hey, there's no oil to be had so not much motivation for the US Government, but anyway... what else can we do? Well, I think the solution is already coming together right now. Slowly but surely, China is becoming more Westernised. Our people, our products and our ideas are gradually permeating Chinese society. And through this gradual process of osmosis, internal awareness of human rights violations and other faults of the Chinese Government, and the degree of censorship within the country, are increasing. Combine this with pressure from the West - its goverments, businesses and people) which are all now integrated with Chinese society, and there is genuine potential for change. I think it will be a long time before anything approaching democracy is reached, but I really cannot see a quick way of getting there and the best hope is for the West to become part of China, right under the government's nose.

So, back to Google. To acheive all the above, Western businesses are one of the elements required to be in place in Chinese society. And so I have reversed my initial feeling that Google should not operate in China. I believe they should be there; and so should every Western government, company and citizen. And once government representation and businesses are in China, we need to put pressure on them to slowly but surely effect change. The easiet way to put pressure on Google is to tell them what you want, and take away their revenue by boycotting them until you get it. So after a lot of thinking, I'm boycotting Google until I get the following: for starters, I want to see google.cn display clear information that search results have been subject to government censorship. That way at least users of the engine in China know that their search results have been tampered with. I want Google to disclose exactly what they are censoring. Then I want Google to slowly but surely apply pressure to the Chinese authorities to allow full searches to be carried out.

So, that's it. I'd like to clear two things up before I finish: I'm not saying I'm happy with Google making money in China. And I'm not saying that Chinese people neccessarily want the rampant capitalism that pervades most Western nations; they just deserve the democracy.

And finally... it should be pointed out that Yahoo & MSN operate similar policies regarding China. I'm boycotting these as well. Unfortunately most mainstream search engines are powered by Google or Yahoo, but I am going to find one that isn't it and use that instead (any suggestions gratefully received).

sheseltine
03-15-2006, 03:43 PM
An interesting tool from Indiana University (http://homer.informatics.indiana.edu/censearchip/) that allows you to perform searches (text & image) on Google or Yahoo in 2 of China, France, Germany & the US and compare the results (text results are returned as tag clouds, image results show the images)