Google's Evil Scale Apparently Now Includes Censoring Videos In Thailand

from the funny-how-that-works dept

Wondering why Google's board of directors recommended to shareholders that they vote down a proposal that would require Google to adhere to a set of standards against censoring the internet? Perhaps you just need to look to the situation in Thailand, where Google's YouTube property was lamely banned earlier this week over a single video that mocked that country's king. Apparently, the country is now getting ready to ditch the ban, but only because Google has promised to help them censor the video, not by pulling it down, but by making it inaccessible to viewers from Thailand. I guess on Google's famous "evil scale", censoring one video to make the rest of YouTube available is less evil than having no YouTube at all in Thailand.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    squik, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 3:39pm

    Bigger evil

    Censoring search in China in support of a repressive totalitarian regime.

     

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  2.  
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    William, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 3:43pm

    Don't be Evil

    I think their slogan has more to do with usability and quality than actual content.

     

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  3.  
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    Reed, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 3:55pm

    Google is just like everyone else in business

    Many people take issue about Google/You Tube censoring itself for various governments such as China and more recently now in Thailand.

    Keep in mind all companies conform to the laws and policies in other countries if they want to do business there. Yahoo, MSN, and many other well known companies help governments to censor the internet.

    The paradox seems to be the fact that we seem to connect the Internet with freedom. Freedom is still a strong core value in the United States. It is a value we all can agree on.

    The value based question seems to be how could a US corporation support something that seems to go against the very nature of freedom?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 4:15pm

    Re: Google is just like everyone else in business

    Keep in mind all companies conform to the laws and policies in other countries if they want to do business there. Yahoo, MSN, and many other well known companies help governments to censor the internet.
    Which is why an ethical company wouldn't do business in places that required it to do unethical things. Period.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 4:18pm

    Which would you rather be: ethical or rich?

    Which would you rather be: ethical or rich? They are a US corporation, after all.

     

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  6.  
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    Jo Mamma, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 4:39pm

    This is a tough one...

    Companies are in business to make money, but they do have a responsibility to the societies they serve.

    I'd still lean slightly on the side that they are a company, and they are in business to make money, so they cannot be expected to take the values of the country they originated from (namely the US) and impose those ideals on the citizens of these other countries.

    My statement above is barely enough to get me on the side of these companies, but what really does it is the fact that this restricted content is bullshit. If you really want to get somewhere on the Internet, you can. Period. Putting the infrastructure in place to allow access to US company websites will provide the "road to freedom" should those citizens choose it.

    Only the citizens of the countries themselves can choose freedom (as we in the US see it) for themselves. We cannot impose freedom, Iraq has painfully taught us that.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 4:40pm

    Companies are not people. They are amoral entities. A company cannot do evil, only people can. Corporations are amorphus and so any pledge from its owners and employees about that company are meaningless anyway.

    It is convenient for employees to be able to assign moral responsibility to corporations, because they think that they are then absolved of it. It becomes very, very easy to perform unethical acts when you can say: "It's not me, it's XCorp. I'm just doing my job." And that's where the 'evil' comes from. Until others hold people accountable for their actions and dismiss this 'get out of jail free' card, corporations will always encourage immoral behaviour.

    Corporations: No soul to save, no body to imprison.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 5:20pm

    Re: This is a tough one...

    ...they are a company, and they are in business to make money, so they cannot be expected to take the values of the country they originated from (namely the US) and impose those ideals on the citizens of these other countries.
    No one here has said that Google should try to impose anything on any countries and your suggestion otherwise is misleading. It has been said that Google themselves should behave ethically where ever they go. If unethical behavior is the price of admission, then don't go in. Ethics are not something that apply only at home.

    We cannot impose freedom,...
    True, but that does not excuse collaboration with evil.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 5:32pm

    Re:

    Companies are not people.
    Not true. In the US corporations have legal personhood.

    They are amoral entities.
    Well, legally they are amoral persons.

    A company cannot do evil,
    Sure they can. Getting them to be held accountable is another story.

    It is convenient for employees to be able to assign moral responsibility to corporations, because they think that they are then absolved of it.
    And they legally often are.

    It becomes very, very easy to perform unethical acts when you can say: "It's not me, it's XCorp. I'm just doing my job."
    One of the many advantages of incorporation.

    Corporations: No soul to save, no body to imprison.
    Legally, corporate persons are superior to natural persons. Says something about the legal system, doesn't it?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 5:45pm

    No one here has said that Google should try to impose anything on any countries and your suggestion otherwise is misleading. It has been said that Google themselves should behave ethically where ever they go. If unethical behavior is the price of admission, then don't go in. Ethics are not something that apply only at home.

    Your argument is based on the assumption that the world has *one* set of ethical beliefs, namely, the ones you have. The post you quoted said "you can't expect other countries to act the same way as america", basically. Your reply was "No you can't, but really, yes we should".
    All you really did was swap "values" for "ethics", and restate the same point.

    We cannot impose freedom,...

    True, but that does not excuse collaboration with evil.


    The world isn't black and white.

    The choice here is between "no access for anyone in the world to this video" or "don't let Thailand see this video". It's either choose between them, or Thailand gets nothing. You can hardly put any blame on Google in this case. If you were in charge, what, exactly, would you do? Cut off access to the entire country over one video?

     

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  11.  
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    RandomThoughts, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 6:28pm

    It is a joke to think that companies can stand up to governmental bodies. It is also a joke to blame Google for doing what they do in China. Should Google not do business in China? Is what they do any worse than any US manufacturer that outsources its work to China? Is it any worse for any retailer that sells products made in China?

    If you are all that worked up about conditions in China, bitch about it to your elected officials, but realize that they can't do a whole lot about it either. China is a superpower and can do pretty much what it wants. Its change will come from within, not from what Google can affect.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 7:30pm

    "Should Google not do business in China? Is what they do any worse than any US manufacturer that outsources its work to China? Is it any worse for any retailer that sells products made in China?"

    Maybe they should not do business in China. They make plenty of money without doing so.

    Maybe we should stop outsourcing manufacturing to countries that treat their workers like slaves.

    Maybe we should not buy goods from those countries.

    Maybe we shouldn't shop at Walmart so much either.

    Is that too much of a hardship for you? Is money the only thing that has meaning?

    How are you going to buy anything when you don't have a job making stuff?

    Life was pretty good here in the USA when we made most of what we consumed. We could do it again if we haven't lost the ability to. And if we lost it - then what are we?

    Globalization is good for corporations, and for a few people. But is it good for our country? Is it good for the country that makes cheap shirts until an even poorer country takes that business away? It's a race to the bottom. China is now outsourcing some manufacturing to Vietnam.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Ben(Damnit), Apr 6th, 2007 @ 7:52pm

    Not being evil.

    I, for one, support Google. This decision is not so much the lesser of two evils, as much as a foot in the door.

    The fact that countries like Thailand and China are willing to block an entire domain (service?) like YouTube or Google just shows how out of touch they are are with the reality of the internet.

    Google's putting their collective foot in the door by keeping it's entire service up, minus one video. What those governments don't get is sense the media exists on the net it could be easily posted to hundreds or thousands of different sites in seconds. I feel safe in saying most Thailanians who want to see it have been able to see it without access to YouTube. And in a week or two, after the original is removed, when the media attention has died down, there will be renamed reposts and hundreds of little homages to it in other videos, and i bet Thailand won't say a word.

    And that is why Google can block the video without being evil. They kept it up until the entire country exposed itself as being threatened by a silly video on the net. Now that the entire word has been enlightened to the videos existence, it doesn't matter that a particular copy is blocked. And Thailand should feel a little embarrassed for making a scene and wasting everyones time.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 9:06pm

    Re:

    It is a joke to think that companies can stand up to governmental bodies.
    China isn't forcing Google to do business there.

    Should Google not do business in China?
    Not if they can't do it ethically.

    Is what they do any worse than any US manufacturer that outsources its work to China? Is it any worse for any retailer that sells products made in China?
    Yes and yes. But whether you can find someone better or worse doesn't really matter.

    If you are all that worked up about conditions in China, bitch about it to your elected officials,
    I concerned about the behavior of Google and I'll voice my concerns to whomever I please, thank you.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Not being evil.

    I, for one, support Google. This decision is not so much the lesser of two evils, as much as a foot in the door.
    Oh yes, the same excuse the preacher used when he was caught with his pants down in the whorehouse: He was just there trying to give G-d "a foot in the door".

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    JC, Apr 6th, 2007 @ 11:03pm

    All of those out there living in a fantacy world where all is wonderful if only the little guy gets to think what he pleases need a serious reality check.

    Google is doing its best to push worldwide communications and is offering better and less repressive services to those who otherwise would have nothing.

    And for those of you living here in the great ol U.S of A ought to take a hard look at what freedom really means before electing another fuck-ass to ANY political office before pissing and moaning about the actions of the corporations who do what they do because of those officials YOU elected into office.

    Get a life already for fucking Christ's sake.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2007 @ 8:06am

    down with idealism

    I would think that the people of Thailand are happy that Google is removing a video so that they can enjoy the rest of the site easily. Otherwise they wouldn't go to the site.
    I also doubt very much that people in China say, "Damn you, Google, offering us a crippled service because of our oppressive government instead of no service at all."
    Ideals are all fine and good, but no one is served by Google refusing to do business in restrictive countries except other online businesses that are willing to do business in those countries.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2007 @ 8:41am

    Who gives a damn? Whatever Google wants to do they should just do it! It's infuriating to see you people all get up on your virtual soapboxes and preach righteousness when, in reality, there is not a single thing to indicate anything but efforts for the best. If you want to preach against totalitarianism, I will wholeheartedly agree with you. Is this situation at all related, yes. But is Google wrong to cater to the whims of a government in a country they provide a service to? No!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Marcus B. Hopper, Apr 7th, 2007 @ 9:13am

    Those of you who think that the people of China would have "nothing" if it weren't for Google are either seriously deluded or Google shills.

    Consider this: If the operator of the whorehouse told the preacher that he could only come in and preach to the ladies while he using their services, would he be wrong to do so? Some here would appear to think not.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    squik, Apr 7th, 2007 @ 1:24pm

    When the shit hits the fan

    When the shit hits the fan, its called collaboration. I'm sure your parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents for some of you, were not happy to to find Ford and GM engines in Nazi trucks captured during WWII. Even as we went to war with Germany, Alfred P. Sloan, then chairman of GM, rationalized building the Nazi war machine as being highly profitable.

    The comparison between search and building engines for a war machine is a long stretch. The nexus occurs at the point where Google's pandering to the Chinese government allows the communists to rewrite their history, assisted by Google, to continue the enslavement of the population. The people, after all, are the heart of the war machine.

    While I find Google's support of the communist government unconscionable from a moral standpoint, the experience (and tunnel vision) of American business executives in WWII shows us companies will follow profit regardless of the moral ramifications. Certainly Google's executive management is conscious of the fact that they would be fired if they ceded the Chinese market to Yahoo.

    Protests and soapbox speeches against these things matter very little in our short-attention-span society. Look at what happened when this matter first came to public awareness. Politicians hauled CEOs of American corporations in front of Congress. The politicians publicly shamed the CEOs, who protested that they had to support the Chinese government to do business in China. It was a nice spectacle for those who cared. The result was no change. The CEOs went home and continued to run their companies the way the company owners want them too. The self-congratulated politicians mentally calculated the votes they had won for the next election and moved their attention to the ring in the circus.

    The only way to give "moral guidance" to US corporations is to affect their profit. Protests and boycotts usually have only short-term effects. And they rarely target all companies equally. Such partial remedies only last as long as the media finds them interesting.

    The only thing to do that will matter is to press for the passage of laws that restrict the activities of US companies in foreign markets with totalitarian regimes.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    reed, Apr 7th, 2007 @ 2:51pm

    All Corporations seem to act the same way

    Squik commented,

    "When the shit hits the fan, its called collaboration. I'm sure your parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents for some of you, were not happy to to find Ford and GM engines in Nazi trucks captured during WWII. Even as we went to war with Germany, Alfred P. Sloan, then chairman of GM, rationalized building the Nazi war machine as being highly profitable."

    Thanks for having the balls to bring this up. It points out that we should not glorify everything corporations stand for. They have some good qualities and many bad in my opinion.

    "The only way to give "moral guidance" to US corporations is to affect their profit. Protests and boycotts usually have only short-term effects. And they rarely target all companies equally. Such partial remedies only last as long as the media finds them interesting."

    An economics solution will not work because it is not a truly free market. You don't like what a company is doing? Try their competitors until you find out they own them too :)

    I don't know about giving the government the big bat either because they are far more likely to swing it at a minority than anything real.

    Perhaps the law? any thoughts?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2007 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Which would you rather be: ethical or rich?

    It's possible to be both.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Jo Mamma, Apr 8th, 2007 @ 1:36pm

    Re: When the shit hits the fan

    I find your logic to be good, and your comments to be insightful. But I disagree with your conclusions.

    The only way to open these countries up is for the citizenry to get a taste of other alternatives, as we did with the USSR, but thoughtful people can disagree on this point.

    Also, we must bear in mind that citizens may not care to have a government like the US. They want jobs and food in their belly. Who are we to judge?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Difficult Times, Apr 8th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

    Google are right, well sort of

    IMHO
    Censorship is fine as long as it represents the majority view of the readership. So, most parents would censor the kinkythai website for example from their children. Most muslim countries will censor images of the profit Mohammed. But you would never accept Muslims censoring on behalf of Christians for example. It has to be the legitimate representative of the readership that makes the choice.

    IMHO
    The current Thai government does not represent the people so they have no legitimacy in making the censorship choice for Thailand, they are just arrogant men that nobody would vote for if they held a vote.

    IMHO
    What to do? A few words early in the coup would have swung it, but that opportunity was lost. This isn't the time to stand up and be ethical, some sort of ethical compromise has to be made.

    IMHO
    In my humble opinion, I have no right answer to this, Google were banned, if they choose to remove the one or two videos that the officials banned in Thailand then they remove the reason to ban youtube.
    There is no single entity 'Thai people' and removing the easy excuse 'defamed the King' from Youtube fixes the *excuse* used to block Youtube.
    *Small* voices are more important than *big* people would have you believe, and youtube is an outlet for the small voices. So it's overall better that they are in Thailand.

    IMHO
    They should remove the easy excuse and challenge further attempts to ban youtube. What are they afraid of?

    IMHO
    But then what do I know. This is just MHO.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Jo Mamma, Apr 8th, 2007 @ 10:19pm

    Re: Google are right, well sort of

    I agree.

    And I'll just set the record straight quickly (in case anyone is still reading this thread).

    The Thai king has been in power for decades, he is loved by his people and has had nothing to do with the military coup (at least officially).

    The former government was corrupt and the people generally wanted them gone. The military overthrew the corrupt government in a bloodless coup to reinstate order and fair governance.

    Whether or not this will happen, I have no idea (odds are not on the side of military rule), but the Thailand king was NOT just installed and was NOT a party to the coup (again, at least officially).

    Eastern societies generally hold their royalty in high esteem and their local governments in contempt (opposite of the US... interesting, eh?). Disrespecting the king would not please many in Thailand: coup, hardship, or tsunami otherwise.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Pappa Joe, Apr 9th, 2007 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Google is just like everyone else in busin

    What is ethical to you and I is not necessarily ethical to other countries. They may view it as their ethical duty to try to "protect" their people. Even if we disagree completely with them, who are we to tell them to change?

    (This comment does not mean we should turn a blind eye to basic human rights abuse.)

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Max Wilder, Apr 17th, 2007 @ 4:18pm

    This is not collaboration

    Your comparison to engine building for nazi Germany is absurd. Services by Google and similar companies can not be taken and used to oppress the people and invade foreign countries!

    Their purpose is to make information freely available, and if they have limitations imposed upon them by the local government, it is certainly better than nothing at all! And it may give them enough of a taste that they demand full internet freedom and overthrow those oppressive government restrictions.

    And do you really think that China's government would give a damn if Google refused to do business there? Why would they care?

    Pro vs con, Google should absolutely do business in China.

    Companies such as Boeing that build weapons should not. Lumping them in the same category is foolish.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Singha Jerry, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 10:27pm

    Thailand censors wildlife

    Why would Thailand censor my viewing of an eagle catching its prey? I know they censor so much on the internet like trying to find out the lottery results in Florida (example)but wildlife? Come on Thailand, you're a country where EVERYTHING goes in real life. Seen Hangover II?? true. It was in all the theatres and on TV over and over, ad nauseum.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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