Google Agrees to Censor Results in China

firewall

Platinum Member
Oct 11, 2001
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SAN FRANCISCO - Online search engine leader Google Inc. has agreed to censor its results in China, adhering to the country's free-speech restrictions in return for better access in the Internet's fastest growing market.

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

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

Because of government barriers set up to suppress information, Google's China users previously have been blocked from using the search engine or encountered lengthy delays in response time.

The service troubles have frustrated many Chinese users, hobbling Google's efforts to expand its market share in a country that expected to emerge as an Internet gold mine over the next decade.

China already has more than 100 million Web surfers and the audience is expected to swell substantially ? an alluring prospect for Google as it tries to boost its already rapidly rising profits.

Baidu.com Inc., a Beijing-based company in which Google owns a 2.6 percent stake, currently runs China's most popular search engine. But a recent Keynote Systems survey of China's Internet preferences concluded that Baidu remains vulnerable to challenges from Google and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news)

To obtain the Chinese license, Google agreed to omit Web content that the country's government finds objectionable. Google will base its censorship decisons on guidance provided by Chinese government officials.

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

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

"We firmly believe, with our culture of innovation, Google can make meaningful and positive contributions to the already impressive pace of development in China," said Andrew McLaughlin, Google's senior policy counsel.

Google's decision rankled Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog group that has sharply criticized Internet companies including Yahoo and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.com for submitting to China's censorship regime.

"This is a real shame," said Julien Pain, head of Reporters Without Borders' Internet desk. "When a search engine collaborates with the government like this, it makes it much easier for the Chinese government to control what is being said on the Internet."

When Google censors results in China, it intends to post notifications alerting users that some content has been removed ? to comply with local laws. The company provides similar alerts in Germany and France when, to comply with national laws, it censors results to remove references to Nazi paraphernalia.

Google is cooperating with China's government at the same time it is battling the U.S. government over a subpoena seeking a breakdown of one week's worth of search requests ? a list that would cover millions of terms.

Reflecting its uneasy alliance with the Chinese government, Google isn't releasing all its services.

Neither Google's e-mail nor blogging services will be offered in China because the company doesn't want to risk being ordered by the government to turn over anyone's personal information. The e-mail service, called Gmail, creates a huge database of users' messages and makes them instantly searchable. The blogging services contain a wide range of personal background.

Yahoo came under fire last year after it provided the government with the e-mail account information of a Chinese journalist who was later convicted for violating state secrecy laws.

Initially, Google's Chinese service will be limited to searching Web pages and images. The company also will provide local search results and a special edition of its news service that will be confined to government-sanctioned media.
 

raildogg

Lifer
Aug 24, 2004
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In the corporate world, promoting Democracy and freedom is not at the top list of priorities. I don't blame them for that. I would also love for China to change, but it is out of our hands.
 

Generator

Senior member
Mar 4, 2005
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Really a no brainer for google. As for the controlling Chinese government who's to say if this control is really a bad thing. In the United States we have many freedoms and people use those freedoms to fail humanity everyday. There are just millions of Americans who decay society. The Chinese on the other hand will not allow such degeneration. A century from now the Chinese will be capable and evolved and Americans will be irrelevant.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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Google is just obeying the laws of the country, like MS does there.

Given a choice of restricted results or no results the Chinese people are better off.

If they don't like restricted results, it's up to them to change their own government.
 

ManSnake

Diamond Member
Oct 26, 2000
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Totalitarianism prevails over democracy once again.
In conclusion, freedom of speech is worthless when you are poor. Time to buy Google stocks!

Long live Chairman Mao!
Long live the almighty dollar!
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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670
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Originally posted by: ManSnake
Totalitarianism prevails over democracy once again. within its own borders
In conclusion, freedom of speech is worthless when you are poor. and accept being governed by communists instead of fighting for your own freedom
Time to buy Google stocks! a really bad idea given the PE ratio and reliance on one fragile revenue source
Long live Chairman Mao!
Long live the almighty dollar!
Like I said above, China isn't a democracy and all companies offering goods and services there have to accept that.

You should be happy that Google and MS are exporting products there to fight the massive trade imbalance.
 

BaliBabyDoc

Lifer
Jan 20, 2001
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Originally posted by: raildogg
In the corporate world, promoting Democracy and freedom is not at the top list of priorities. I don't blame them for that. I would also love for China to change, but it is out of our hands.

I hear it doesn't really matter in the political arena either.
 

NMDJuggler

Member
Jan 6, 2006
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I spent last year teaching English in southern China, and spent 2 years of my childhood in the politically sensitive city of Hong Kong, so this all hits pretty close to home. Let?s just say that personal experience has not left me with the greatest image of the Chinese government. While I agree that you can't make an apples to apples comparison of how companies do business in the U.S. and China, this is a special issue because it involves the internet. Censorship runs contrary to everything the internet stands for. The internet, and therefore Google, grew and flourished in the open and free environment of the United States, an environment that we created and sustained by the blood and sacrifice of countless generations of Americans before us. The right to free speech, the right to openly share and communicate new ideas, the right to criticize and analyze, are all fundamental to the development of the web of communication that is the internet. Google, in my mind, was a rather idealistic part of that flourishing. After all, one of their company mottos is "We can make money without being evil." I suppose they can erase that one. As an internet pioneer, Google should be ashamed, and furthermore the Chinese government is completely unworthy of and unready for the internet, birthed as it was in such a free and open society. They are the unrightful heirs to the pearl that democracy has created. The Chinese people, on the other hand, deserve much better than Google is now going to give them. Google has lost a customer in me, but more importantly they have lost their souls. Shame on you, Google! The boycott starts tonight.
 

ModerateRepZero

Golden Member
Jan 12, 2006
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no it doesn't....just recall Tiannamen Square, 1989. Student protesters were demanding political equality, and Deng Xiaoping called in the tanks to disperse the protesters.
 

CSMR

Golden Member
Apr 24, 2004
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No one should speak on this unless he knows Chinese society. Let's not export freedom of speech, or democracy, or whatever else, without a cultural sensitivity. Chinese government is not perfect. It will transform gradually, and in its own way rather than subjecting itself to western principles.
 

Mickey Eye

Senior member
Apr 14, 2005
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Originally posted by: NMDJuggler
no what doesn't? the boycott? I was referring to myself.

I too am trying to find ways to avoid using their services. However apart from Yahoo and Microsoft (who caved on this issue ages ago) what other search engine choices have I got? The same goes for my free email provider.
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,398
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We should boycott china totally. The idea that trade and giving them notes to our property will make them free and democratic is a compete joke played on the american people. Worse is the only way we'll be able to "compete" with them is to become more like them becasue they sure as heck anit gonna change. Party line over there gets you power, land and loans to control your districts people and land and make product.

It's happening in the US already. Notice the progressivly increasing police state - manifested in private property seizure the supremes ruled ok - warrantless wiretapes and indefinite arrests w/o trail or even charges in some cases. Notice workers rights are taking a back seat.. unions ridiculed. etc etc etc.. its just a matter of time before your wife/mother.daughter is slaving away 80 hrs a week for $120 a month. We must in order to compete with such a system which basically salves thier people to benefit the party elite.
 

NMDJuggler

Member
Jan 6, 2006
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Originally posted by: CSMR
No one should speak on this unless he knows Chinese society. Let's not export freedom of speech, or democracy, or whatever else, without a cultural sensitivity. Chinese government is not perfect. It will transform gradually, and in its own way rather than subjecting itself to western principles.


With all due respect, Chinese society is something I feel comfortable speaking about and something I have a fair amount of experience with, and citing cultural relativism is not always appropriate. I firmly believe that there is absolute right and wrong, and curtailing free speech as a means to maintaining your own powerbase is political violence, pure and simple. While this issue is such a big deal to me is that internet, I believe, will be the fundamental instrument for political change in China. I may be the only person saying this, but I believe that the Chinese government will either collapse or undergo massive and radical political changes (i.e. rapid democratization) within the next two decades. I have many reasons to believe this, which I can talk about later if you?d like, but when this does happen, it will be through the extensive use of the internet. We already saw early indications of this with the anti-Japanese protests last year. These massive (especially by Chinese standards) mobilizations of people were accomplished through cell-phone text messaging, internet chat rooms and instant messaging. While at first permitting the protests (the government would rather their people be angry at the Japanese than their own government) they were subsequently put down because the Chinese government fears people?s ability to freely communicate and mobilize. It was no accident that a huge internet censorship campaign quickly followed. There have been similar issues with Wikipedia. The Chinese government is right to fear the internet, and that?s why Google missed a huge opportunity here to help the plight of the Chinese people. The internet, and Google, should be about individual empowerment which enables people to break the bonds of economic and political slavery that others have mentioned. I?m not sure I should have expected better of Google, but I am still ashamed of them.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
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This is all about access to a Chinese market. I would kind of like to see what the search engine does have access to and wonder what the address will be. It kind of makes me curious.

Personally I think we need a G rated Search engine.
 

NMDJuggler

Member
Jan 6, 2006
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I can tell you 3 things it will NOT have access to...the three T's. Taiwan, Tibet, Tiananmen.

Oh yeah, and this thread won't be available either. ;)
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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Originally posted by: NMDJuggler
The Chinese government is right to fear the internet, and that?s why Google missed a huge opportunity here to help the plight of the Chinese people.
But Google did not have the choice to run an uncensored search in China.

The choice they had was to be blocked, shut down and possibly booted from the country, or to obey Chinese law like Microsoft was already doing.

I agree that free access to information is a good thing, and that it will over time change the Chinese government, but the change needs to come from within not from an American company.
 

Bitek

Lifer
Aug 2, 2001
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How does this compare to the Bush Admin request for Google's search data in order to defend the COPA (the Child Online Protect Act.)

It seems to me the only reason the Admin would want this data would be to show that the engine can be used to access "illegal" materials or material that should otherwise be banned (according to their discretion of course.)

"To obtain the Chinese license, Google agreed to omit Web content that the country's government finds objectionable. Google will base its censorship decisons on guidance provided by Chinese government officials."

The only correction to this would be for the gov't to impose restrictions on search terms and results the search engines are allowed to return, which is the only inevitable result the COPA can have.

So I ask, how is this much different? Are we so quick to slam the Chinese when Bush is heading towards something similar? What if it were to limit search results based on supposed terror threats, ie you can't search bomb making or any other possible term the gov't decides it is in the best interest of the people for them not to have?