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Censorship Your Rights Online

Google Disappears In China 334

Posted by timothy
from the man-vs.-state dept.
An anonymous reader submits: "The censorship in China was finally getting better since people were 'allowed' to read the CNN news now (except for certain articles). But since this weekend it seems that a new web page has been censored in China. Since this weekend it looks like everyone in China is not 'allowed' to use google.com anymore. google.com was also gaining populairity in China as the better search engine (which also works fine in Chinese). But now I guess it got too popular and thus not allowed. Or does it have anything to do with Yahoo signing the agreement to censor?" Comments to yesterday's post "Real-Time Testing of China's Internet Filters" also noted that Google has gone missing within China.
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Google Disappears In China

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  • Cache (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stormie (708) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:59AM (#4182769) Homepage
    Surely it's because Google's cache would allow people inside the Great Firewall to read all manner of banned web pages?
  • the reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GoatPigSheep (525460) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:59AM (#4182771) Homepage Journal
    Google's cached page feature could give anyone in china the ability to see any censored sites (or at least older copies).
  • Rumors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jsse (254124) on Monday September 02, 2002 @03:13AM (#4182818) Homepage Journal
    There's no source, no reference; just a wild rumors from an anonymous coward. I don't believe /. editors would down to spreading FUD for a few extra hits.

    In China there are some search engines like Yam [yam.com] which is google based and use google's queries. Even if you haven't heard of Yam, you might have heard of a China based search engine company suing Yahoo for stealing queries. Yam is more popular than Google here.

    If they block Google they might have to block Yam as well, which would then be a real chaos. :)
  • by lux55 (532736) on Monday September 02, 2002 @03:58AM (#4182928) Homepage Journal
    At least in our case (being uncensored), our main form of censorship is self-censorship. This is a choice. It's a choice people are all too willing to make these days, but at least the few of us willing to excercise our rights and our brains to form our own opinions (amidst the constant bombardment of media pressure) have the right to do so.

    You raise an interesting point though. +5 from me.
  • by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp AT freeshell DOT org> on Monday September 02, 2002 @04:08AM (#4182948) Homepage Journal
    Yeah...why, just the other day, a friend of mine was "censored" when the army came and took him away for publically speaking out against the government. Later, there was a report on the news that he was to be imprisoned, tortured, and shot.

    He was part of a rally in Times Square, and they arrested him. Sucks that we live in a country without peaceable assembly.

    Wait...I think it was actually someone I didn't know who was killed in Tiananmen square [christusrex.org] for a pro-democracy demonstration.

    I think I got it straight now. The US is NOTHING like China when it comes to censorship. We don't imprison and kill people because we don't like what they say. We certainly don't use full force; on the contrary, our main censorship punishment is fines, or at the very most, a minimum security prison sentence. Of course, you have to consider that we are not trying to censor, our goal is to avoid copyright violations. You can say anything you want, as long as it isn't libel (untrue statement of FACTS - all opinions are allowed).

    Don't belittle our freedom or China's suffering by such a comparison.
  • Quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Raul654 (453029) on Monday September 02, 2002 @04:12AM (#4182958) Homepage
    When I read articles like this, a quote from Alpha Centauri (the video game) comes to mind:

    As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.
    Commissioner Pravin Lal
    "U.N. Declaration of Rights"


    And every one of these articles I see reinforces that belief.
  • by z01d (602442) on Monday September 02, 2002 @04:16AM (#4182966)

    slashdot finally post this story on the fp...
    i feel both gratified and worrying [slashdot.org]

    the 16th All-Hands meeting of CCP [sina.com.cn] will be held on 18th Nov at BeiJing, it will announce the fourth core-leader of the party (the first three is Mao, Deng, Jiang), the political battle just run in white hot. you can image how could this be, in a autarchy. currently, they are very sensitive about the public media, as well as the internet, this is so called "the very period", that's why google has been banned. it's quite understandable(not acceptable) from my point of view (No, i'm not brainwashed), google will be ok after this year.

    my respect goes to google
    for their disobedience

    my useless indignation goes to Cisco [newsmax.com] and Yahoo! [slashdot.org]
    for their "commercial operation"

    god or someone else bless us...
    free speech rulz
  • by jukal (523582) on Monday September 02, 2002 @04:40AM (#4182998) Journal
    > if a country can't cope with its inhabitants having a wide range
    > of views, it has problems all its own.

    The problem is that majority of people think that they have formed their opinion after inspecting a wide range of views (as there's free speech, this must be the case, right?) - when in reality their opinion was formed by only 1 or 2 views that reflect the view of a very small interest group or they formed their opinion based on biased "information".

    You saw it in TV news, it must be true - effect.

  • by ptbrown (79745) on Monday September 02, 2002 @05:23AM (#4183056)
    If someone is operating a web proxy to bypass the Great Firewall, that's great.

    But a web proxy isn't the same thing as an open SMTP relay. Anyone with one of those should be shot, burned, dragged through the streets naked, and then really punished.
  • by nagarjun (249852) on Monday September 02, 2002 @06:28AM (#4183145)
    Generally speaking, many of us in Asian countries do not have a problem with censorship, though may not be in Google'case. There are two reasons for this

    1. Culturally, we are comfortable with others making decsions for us, well into adulthood. Many Indians are fine with arranged marriages, so what's wrong with arranged browsing?! :) The underlying assumption is that elders know best, and sometimes this gets extended to the state as well. Of late though, some youth have started to resent this, but the overwhelming majority remains in favor of censorship in movies, websites, books, whatever.

    2. The other reason of course is there is usually a way to get around censorship. For instance, it is common knowledge that benned X-rated films are freely available. But any talk of legalizing them would be met with huge outcries. As a society, we sometimes have a need to tell ourselves that we are clean of all offensive stuff, though the reality may be something else. I mean, we sometimes willingly fool ourselves...

    Slashdotters from non-Asian countries need to keep this in mind whenever issues of censorship come up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 02, 2002 @07:53AM (#4183313)
    For a country that doesn't really care about the rest of the world (Kyoto, Johannesburg, International court, ...)
    Your so-called 'care' for democracy in China is questionable if not pathetic.
  • by pgilman (96092) <.ni.ag. .ta. .reven.> on Monday September 02, 2002 @08:04AM (#4183336) Journal

    This is tangential to the story, but worth mentioning:

    The original anonymous poster mentions CNN, ostensibly as an example of free western journalism; this is a dangerous premise. As a dual citizen of the USA and a Western European country, I have the opportunity to see things from both sides of the fence, as it were, and I'm here to tell you that most of the mainstream U.S. "news" channels, and particularly CNN, are regarded outside the USA as little more than the U.S.'s propaganda machine; at best a joke, and at worst a shameful abdication of journalistic integrity.

    Here's just one example (there are dozens!): Some of the Slashdot audience may not be old enough to remember the role of the news in the Vietnam era: during that conflict, news channels carried real, uncensored battlefield footage, which was by its nature often graphic and gruesome. People in the USA were able to see what was going on and what it was like; dead people and napalm and all. Consequently, there arose a tremendous opposition to the war, with lots of protests and high-profile objectors; the U.S. government's involvement was highly criticized. These factors certainly influenced the course of the war itself and U.S. policy afterward.

    But the government learned their lesson.

    During recent U.S. conflicts such as the "Gulf War" and the action in Afghanistan, the American "news" has been subject to governmental "guidelines," which allows them to show the public only press briefings and select footage from missile-mounted cameras depicting "surgical strikes" which only kill bad guys, never women and children and civilians. No bodies, not even body counts. Why? The government knows it needs to control public opinion; if we don't know what's going on, we won't object - so the media are subjected to "guidelines" invoked in the name of national security.

    Again: this is only one example; there are many others. The point is that accepting what you see and hear and read in the American mainstream news media at face value is dangerous, like burying your head in the sand. These days, they tell us only what they want us to hear.

  • by wumingzi (67100) on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:10PM (#4184207) Homepage Journal
    Interesting. If they're indeed left open for that reason, I'd almost change my opinion of the admins running them...

    Another helpful poster pointed out the difference between a web proxy and an open mail server.

    A proxy server is only useful if it is outside of the routers which do the filtering, i.e. outside of the PRC.

    Most of the open mail relays in Asia are just due to ham-handed systems administration. There are lots of small companies running mail and web servers, and not nearly enough qualified people to administer them.

    j.

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." -- Albert Einstein

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