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Old 01-25-2006   #1
dannysullivan
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Google Agrees To Chinese Censorship

Over on the blog, I've done a long write-up 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?

Last edited by dannysullivan : 01-25-2006 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 01-25-2006   #2
Alan Perkins
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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.
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Old 01-25-2006   #3
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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.
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Old 01-25-2006   #4
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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.
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Old 01-25-2006   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Webvisitor
I might resent Google for compromising their free world mentallity just to get me to click some sponsored ads.
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).
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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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dschmelzer
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)?
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Old 01-25-2006   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Perkins
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.
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Old 01-25-2006   #7
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Might be useless

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
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Old 01-25-2006   #8
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Arrow

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.
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Old 01-25-2006   #9
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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.
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Old 01-25-2006   #10
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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?

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Old 01-25-2006   #11
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Quote:
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?
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Old 01-25-2006   #12
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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."
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Old 01-25-2006   #13
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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 "Apparently you can scratch "censorship in pursuit of profit" off your list of Things That Are Evil...."

Google in China: degrees of evil "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.'"
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Old 01-25-2006   #14
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Some knowledge better than know knowledge...

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...
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Old 01-26-2006   #15
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Thumbs down New Google moto "Don't do evil -Do business with it"

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.
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Old 01-26-2006   #16
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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

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Old 01-26-2006   #17
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Non-censoring search engines

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
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Old 01-26-2006   #18
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Wink How very sad, when people are blinded and fail to see the truth.

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
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Old 01-26-2006   #19
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Lightbulb Protest.

Can I suggest a google bomb

Search evil get google as a protest!

SEO's willing well you know what to do......
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Old 01-26-2006   #20
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Search for "Falun Gong" on Google.cn

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/g...ropaganda.html
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