– from Michelle Malkin
Here’s a roundup of the basic news for those who need it, and selected comments from the blogosphere about Google’s China annoucement.
Google agrees to censor results in China
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.
….. 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 says offers self-censored Chinese service
Web search leader Google Inc. said on Tuesday that it was introducing a new service for China that seeks to avoid a confrontation with the government by restricting access to services to which users contribute such as e-mail, chat rooms and blogs.
The new Chinese service at http://www.google.cn will offer a self-censored version of Google’s popular search system that restricts access to thousands of terms and Web sites.
Pajamas Media has a longer treatment courtesy of Newstex.
EXCERPT FROM Reporters Without Borders statement:
â€œThe launch of Google.cn is a black day for freedom of expression in China,â€ the worldwide press freedom organisation said. â€œThe firm defends the rights of US Internet users before the US government but fails to defend its Chinese users against theirs.
â€œGoogleâ€™s statements about respecting online privacy are the height of hypocrisy in view of its strategy in China. Like its competitors, the company says it has no choice and must obey Chinese laws, but this is a tired argument. Freedom of expression isnâ€™t a minor principle that can be pushed aside when dealing with a dictatorship. Itâ€™s a principle recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and features in the Chinese national constitution itself.
â€œUS firms are now bending to the same censorship rules as their Chinese competitors but they continue to justify themselves by saying their presence has a long-term benefit. Yet the Internet in China is becoming more and more isolated from the outside world and freedom of expression there is shrinking. These firmsâ€™ lofty predictions about the future of a free and limitless Internet conveniently hide their unacceptable moral errors.â€
SELECTED BLOG comments:
- Stephen Green — “What they’re doing isn’t only evil in and of itself, it’s willingly acting in concert with the far greater evil of the Chi-Com dictatorship.”
- Democracy Project — “If this were 60-years ago, would Google be agreeing to censor out news of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in order to have access to Nazi Germanyâ€™s Europe? Why are we tolerating this corporate immorality?”
- Publius Pundit — “….. it makes me wonder â€” just a little â€” what its motivation is to resisting the U.S. government and giving in to the Chinese. Perhaps they should change their motto to, ‘Itâ€™s just business.’”
- UnCorrelated is not troubled — “The American view of the public interest isn’t a universal ethic.” Sorry, I’m not buying. This isn’t about “the public interest,” it’s about the basic human right of free speech and expression. His bomb-making instruction analogy is silly.
- The Zero Point — “Don’t Be Evil, Except When You Help Oppress Freedom”
- Stones Cry Out — ” Does filtering search results rise to the level of being truly “evil”. No, not really. But it does make it complicit in doing a disservice to Chinese users who want to learn about what freedom really means.” Hey Stones, that’s exactly why it IS evil.
- Kaiser Snuggle — “As GOOGLE claims they needs to protect people in the US who maybe searching for child porn, the gladly cooperate with the commies in China for fear of losing market share. Although GOOGLE may be right to fight the US government on privacy grounds, there is no excuse for their (and everyone else’s) behavior in China.”
- The Tension — “This is a business decision in a market where free speech isn’t a right. If you don’t understand the concept I submit that you need to open up your narrow view of the world. It’s just further proof that Google is the Wal-Mart of the Web.” Zheesh.
UPDATE: Data Poobah, who turned Google’s Code of Conduct back on itself: “….. this is why Codes of Conduct, Vision Statements, Etc. have such a dismal reputation among American corporate workers. Theyâ€™re either rah-rah bs designed to get us to put more time and effort into a company than itâ€™s worth. Or simply a waste of time to keep the executives busy.”
UPDATE 2: RConversation points out a few mitigating circumstances (e.g., users will definitely know they’re being shut out of content, which is not the case with other search engines in China; there will supposedly be an ability to go to the old US-based Google service, which though slower, is apparently less filtered; and they are avoiding having to turn e-mail info over to the government by locating e-mail servers in the US), but concludes, “At the end of the day, this compromise puts Google a little lower on the evil scale than many other internet companies in China. But is this compromise something Google should be proud of? No. They have put a foot further into the mud. Now let’s see whether they get sucked in deeper or whether they end up holding their ground.”
UPDATE 3: The error message users see when they try to access forbidden content (with translation).