Google Lets Chinese Government Censor Results

from the all-depends-on-the-gov't dept

While Google seems to have no problem standing up to the US government, it’s decided to back down for the Chinese. In an effort to gain a bit more traction in China, Google has apparently agreed to launch a new version in China that censors results the government doesn’t like. This isn’t all that surprising, as plenty of others have done the same (or worse) in order to do business in China — but it is a bit disappointing. Google has had its share of troubles in China, ever since the government first decided to completely block out the search engine more than three years ago. However, with Google battling both Yahoo and Baidu in China, apparently it felt it needed to go this route to make things work. Of course, it’s a bit amusing to realize that many considered Baidu’s advantage in China that it let people download music. So, apparently the trick to success in the Chinese search market is to block political stuff, but allow free music downloads.

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Comments on “Google Lets Chinese Government Censor Results”

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Professor HighBrow says:

Re: Censorship = Control

Regardless of what goes on in China (never been there, and don’t plan on going) the problem is the same:
Governmental Censorship. It’s a shame that people anywhere on the globe can’t express their views without fear of retribution.

We in the western world at least have a shot at what we consider free speech. In my opinion, Google should have refused to cooperate with governmental censorship on principle alone.
Of course there is always the off-chance that at least some minor allowance might give more power to the people…

Intanshi, you struck the nail on the head, censorship runs deep and destroys freedom and oppresses people.

Mention trying to censor someone would anger even the most mild-mannered Professor HighBrow into knocking a censor’s jaw loose.

The People of China ought to pull a Tiananmen Square incident soon, hopefully with a more favorable outcome and without the massacre.

dorpus says:

As if anyone cares about politics in China

Americans are hung up on the notion of Chinese somehow clamoring to be free, but Chinese just care about money and getting ahead. If there are rules on what can or can’t be done, it’s just viewed as a tool to manipulate others in the getting-ahead game. Nobody really cares about “freedom” in the abstract — Chinese live in crowded cities, where peer pressure takes precedence over laws concerning “freedom”.

dorpus says:

Re: As if anyone cares about politics in China

p.s. when Tibetans talk about “freedom”, what they really mean is the right to live their traditional lifestyle in which 12-year-old girls are married to multiple men, priests dictate total control over society, and women aren’t allowed to own property. It’s no different from Afghanistan under the Taliban, but for some strange reason, Westerners side with Tibetans.

Student says:

Re: Re: Re: As if anyone cares about politics in China

neither did the taliban, while i don’t support their oppressive ways, we seem to blame them because they feared a massive terrorist organization with sadistic tactics over being thrown in a comfy US prison. now im not saying that guantanamo bay is paradise, but think about their alternative.

Dustin says:

Re: Re: As if anyone cares about politics in China

There are hundreds of millions of use “westerners” that agree with neither the Chinese government, nor those Tibetans actions. Nor do we believe that the China is a blossoming flower of freedom. We do however, have great concern with a totalitarian communist government… wielding the largest manned army in the world… armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons… having all the money they need to continue continue making themselves stronger and more dangerous… thanks in great part to our own companies outsourcing the production of an enormous amount of the consumer products we buy every day.

x-googler says:

Re: Re: Re: As if anyone cares about politics in China

Oh, come on, Bush and the US military are the largest, most ruthless terrorist organization in the world. Look for our rights to change drastically when Bush cooridinates and launches his next terrorist attack on the US. He is beginning for Martial Law. You can forget about your free Google searches then, as well as your private data that Google and every ISP has.

Ron says:

Good vs. Evil

I wonder if Google has finally decided to choose profits over ethics. The censoring of 20 percent of the world population, simply to exploit a new eastern market, does seems to relegate the company mantra of ‘Don’t be Evil’ from a philosophy to a mere selling point.

There is nothing wrong with allowing any citizen of the world to search for the term ‘democracy’, and Google, being an American company, should find nothing wrong with it either: It has democracy to thank for its existence.

Maybe it does pay to be Evil after all.

nonuser says:

Re: Good vs. Evil

Maybe they’ve decided that each company has an “Evil Budget”, necessary for the business of making a profit and pacifying shareholders, and they’ve decided to spend most of their allotment on cracking the Chinese market.

So Google should change their motto to, “Our biggest competitors have substantially bigger Evil Budgets than we do!”

Chris Wuestefeld says:

Re: Good vs. Evil

Why is it OK to censor for kiddy porn, or copyright violations (which Google already does), but political stuff is evil.
It seems like everyone that’s been complaining about this issue has a very USA-centric view of the world. American values are self-evidently “correct”, but other cultures get picked apart.
Also, Google has little to thank Democracy for. If you want to see what allowed Google to flourish, look at the free market.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Good vs. Evil

“Also, Google has little to thank Democracy for.”

Without Democracy, there would be no free market: there would be opression of the market. Look beyond the concept.

“It seems like everyone that’s been complaining about this issue has a very USA-centric view of the world.”

Any views that are USA-centric are irrelevant and beside the point. The point is, in case you missed it, is that any American company or citizen has a duty to promote the spread of free and open information.. not censorship. That is what being an American is all about: to give others the right of freedom of speech and expression, as you yourself have been blessed with. The argument has nothing to do with China, your neighborhood, or Mars. The argument has nothing to do with competing with Company X or Company Y because they sacrificed their ethics for profit. The argument has nothing to do with quarterly earnings, pleasing sharholders or the govt.

What the argument is about, is what it means to be an American. Google is displaying to the world, on a pedestal, just how much we value our beliefs on freedom when there’s a check involved. The argument has everything to do with Google’s behavior in choosing profits over ethics. The act shames us all.

acsy says:

Re: Re: Re: Good vs. Evil

>any American company or citizen has a duty to promote the spread of free and open information

see, that’s the kind of tripe that makes you despised around the world (and that includes the ‘western’ nations). get out of my face!! you are like those black-suited well-meaning but intensely annoying people who knock on my door and invite me to join with their God.

your “duty” stops at the point it starts to infringe upon someone else’s space, especially when it is unsolicited.

bruce says:

Re: Re: Re: Good vs. Evil

>what it means to be an American

err, this may come as a surprise to you (and the rest of your countrymen): we don’t care.

i’m from an affluent, western country, and i don’t care what it means to be an American, and nor does the majority of the country, and i sure as sh!t wouldn’t want your American ways imposed on me and mine.

google is a business, and business has every right to make a buck. they do not have to wave your flag whilst singing “America the beautiful” over every international transaction.

Monarch (profile) says:

Re: Bl..Bl...Blogs....banned in China

Makes you wonder if Tech Dirt will be blocked by Google for the Chinese. As it is a content provider for Google’s Home Pages, and does have seem to be a forum of free speech. Or any of the other content providers and advertisers for Google who publish news articles about the Chinese government’s evil attempts at blocking free speech.

Moogle says:

Frame of reference

I imagine that as a company that thinks itself more ethical than the competiton, and who has a stated goal of making as much information available as possible available to the greatest number of people, they might very well see thier choices as “Provide most information with some exceptions” or “Be completely locked out and leave the market open to everyone else that’s even more willing to bend over for profit”.
This has no bearing on whether Google is or is not doing evil. To Google however, they probably see a set of options, and can probably justify this choice as being the one that is better for the world in the long run.
I know some people find the following concept abhorent, but I do believe that morals are relative, down to an individual scale. We might think Google evil for allowing censorship, but then we don’t have the same viewpoint. If you could chat with Larry or whoever over the matter, they’d probably say the subject bothers them a lot and they’re doing the best they can do.

Dave says:

Accountability - Gone!

I suppose we were naive to think that fairness and reasonableness would have as high a priority as money-making. Maybe Google does care about those things, but they have no more transparency at all, so we have no way of knowing. They must have things to hide. Of course, the ability to submit feedback to them (other than telling them about bugs) is gone.
Now that they have the big money and the biggest market share, accountability shrinks – a sadly natural progression. That’s the luxury of having a virtual monopoly, or at least a huge advantage in market share. The only way time that they change their ways is if they are forced to, as illustrated by their battle with the U.S. government right now.
They are restricting Chinese search results, and are ostensibly fighting restrictions on U.S. searches. I’m not sure if that’s the moral relativism someone was talking about, or if they are really just fighting to preserve trade secrets, and it seems there is a pretty good case for the latter.
It is getting to the point where there are some parallels between Google and China, given that both enjoy nearly no accountability.

Chris Wuestefeld (user link) says:

More on good vs. Evil

The other “Chris” couldn’t be further from the truth.
> Without Democracy, there would be no free market
That’s not true. Look at Dubai or Hong Kong, e.g.. These markets flourish(ed) despite not having democracy. Heck, “Wealth of Nations”, the defining book of the free market, was written while under the thumb of the King of England. The truth is the other way around: without the free market, there can be no Democracy.

Consider the Soviet Union, the PRC, etc. Each of these is/was CLAIMED to be democratic (yes, you were allowed to vote for Party representatives). But as soon as people who believe they know better than the consumers start dictating how the market must behave, power becomes too concentrated, and the benefits of lobbying for favors too great, and the only possible result is rampant corruption, thoroughly rotting both the government and the society in short order.

> Any views that are USA-centric are irrelevant
> and beside the point.
Why were you not complaining about censorship of kiddie pr0n before this China flap?

> any American company or citizen has a duty to
> promote the spread of free and open information
Where did you get such an idea? I never agreed to such responsibility.

> That is what being an American is all about: to give
> others the right of freedom of speech and expression,
> as you yourself have been blessed with
No, it’s not. That’s not even the case in America itself. The 1st Amendment constrains ONLY governmental action, which is why it says “Congress shall pass no law”. And that’s because the Founders trusted only the People themselves to determine the nature of their intercourse. The government cannot do so, but it’s the duty of each person to follow his own conscience. If you ignore your conscience and force yourself to respect something you believe evil, you do all a disservice. But by doing what we believe is right — even when that means maximizing our income to provide better for our families — in ALL of our affairs, we together make a great society — not because the government compels us to do so, but for our own reasons, because…

> The argument has everything to do with Google’s
> behavior in choosing profits over ethics.
The Founders had read Adam Smith; it’s no coincidence that his “Wealth of Nations” was also published in 1776. They understood the Invisible Hand, the idea that each person acting with long vision toward his own best interest does inevitably lead to the optimum outcome for the entire society.

Indeed, Democracy can’t survive without the free market. It’s not the other way around.

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