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Censorship Businesses Google The Internet

Does Google Censor Chinese News? 547

Posted by timothy
from the except-for-all-the-others dept.
mOoZik writes "A story carried by New Scientist suggests that Google might be playing into the hands of the Chinese government by blocking certain news stories which may be deeded inappropriate. Some users recently reported that Google's Chinese news search returned different results depending when they searched using a computer based outside of China. The claims were substantiated by researchers who connected to computers inside the country. Read on and decide for yourself."
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Does Google Censor Chinese News?

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  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:15AM (#10316798) Homepage
    I'm sorry but I don't see why this is such a surprise. If you're a multinational company and you set-up office in the United Kingdom then you have to adhere to European and UK law and if you set-up office in Turkey you have to adhere to Turkish
    law. So what's the problem with adhering to Chinese law if you set up office in China?

    Now you might not like the political stance of the Chinese government but that's your business after all it's their country and their jurisdiction. If you don't want to adhere to their laws don't set-up office there.

    The principle motive of any company is to maximise its profits. If Google thinks working in China will enhance their profitability and they don't mind the draconian laws then it makes sense for them to enter that market.

    We should not expect companies to make political statements - we have politicians for that - Companies are driven by different forces than politics and in the highly competitive market of internet search taking such a stance could damage the company immensely.

    Simon.
    • by Kris_J (10111) *
      So, their new motto is "Don't be evil, unless you have to"?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        So your definition of evil is that the company either breaks local government policy or avoids the Chinese market?

        How about Google remove all ads from its service? That would be very un-evil no?

        How about Google give its technology and source code up for grabs free to Yahoo! and Microsoft?

      • rephrase (Score:3, Insightful)

        that should read "don't be evil, that's a job for the guys who machine-gunned their own students protesting for democracy"

        you somehow seem to think idealism is achievable in such an environment

        you should be condemning the chinese govt, not google
        • Re:rephrase (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kris_J (10111) *
          Given China's behaviour with respect to Tibet and Taiwan, I would say that any company that specifically re-enforces the policy of the government through censorship has no more right to claim to not be evil than Fox News has to claim to be fair and balanced. Either way, I'm not going to give up my Gmail account, but then I don't claim to not be evil.
          • Re:rephrase (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:23AM (#10316998)
            They're in a difficult position though. If they want to do business in China, then they're going to have to abide by Chinese laws and customs.

            Lokk at it this way - no technological method for filtering out "undesirable" sites and news, etc, is going to be 100% efficient or effective. At least with google serving the Chinese market, there will be "windows of opportunity" for people to find stuff that their government deems unsuitable. With the web continuing to grow, these opportunities will become more frequent and longer-lasting, as google/the Chinese authorities play whack-a-mole, a game that's impossible to win...

            As others have said, at the end of the day, google is just a company, and this isn't really their fight. Change has to come from within, not be imposed from outside. Besides, for all anyone knows, there could be an unofficial, internal google policy to not be as quick at complying with takedown requests as they could be, or to introduce subtle inefficiencies and bugs into the process/software. Let's see how this plays out for a while before calling people evil. (Do google even claim not to be evil?)
            • Re:rephrase (Score:4, Interesting)

              by benjj (302095) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:36AM (#10317030) Homepage
              (Do google even claim not to be evil?)

              Uh, yes [google.com]. That's what everyone is talking about.
            • Re:rephrase (Score:5, Insightful)

              by dnoyeb (547705) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:26AM (#10317275) Homepage Journal
              They are only in a difficult position if you fall into the ideology that Google has a responsibility only to its shareholders.

              Makes you wonder if they would do this if they were not public.
              • Re:rephrase (Score:5, Informative)

                by cicho (45472) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @08:27AM (#10317514) Homepage
                Yes, because they were already doing so in 2002 [wired.com].
              • well... (Score:3, Insightful)

                by mattdm (1931)
                They are only in a difficult position if you fall into the ideology that Google has a responsibility only to its shareholders.

                That's not ideology -- it's US law. If they do anything else, they can be sued.
                • Re:well... (Score:4, Informative)

                  by Artifakt (700173) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @11:46AM (#10319097)
                  I keep seeing this "they can be sued" phrase pop up, and it's time to put a stake through its heart.
                  1. A company can be sued by a shareholder for just about anything they do. All it takes is profits being below a prediction (or some half-assed guesstimate), and someone will point to a particular corporate action as being the alledged cause. Most (90% or so in an average year) such suits are unsuccessful. Google can still be sued for working with the PRC's laws, if profits fall (even in some other division, as that could be called a PR backlash!), or for not investing agressively enough in China, if profits fall, or for not dropping this silly internet stuff and becoming a buggy-whip manufacturer, if profits fall.

                  2. Google is not a majority held public company. Lawsuits would be coming from minority stock holders. Minority stock holders have a steep hurdle to prove in any suit - that is they have to prove that they don't have the ulterior motive of trying to make their minority of votes (or their non-voting influence) steer the board of directors on an extra-legal issue.

                  3. US law simply doesn't say what you are misquoting it as saying. The law actually requires any corporation to abide by some pretty strict standards of ethics that often go against maximizing shareholder value, as in these examples:

                  First,
                  http://www.business-ethics.com/current.htm/ [business-ethics.com]
                  alwys has some examples of companies that have done the right thing, (in the opinion of the editors). You can look at what they did, and decide for yourself if they were under pressure of lawsuits or not.

                  Then there's the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which is intended to have a positive impact on accountability, and is sometimes misconstrued to support your position. Most significantly (for this discussion), the Act imposes new responsibilities on CEOs and CFOs who could face criminal sanctions for false certification of financial reports. This was done by congress, because so FEW shareholder lawsuits against corporations were successful, and it was deemed necessary to give suing stockholders some "teeth" in a few cases of outright fraud, sufficient in itself to lead to criminal charges.

                  http://www.genusresources.com/site/content/publica tions/articles/tatelbaum_sarbanes.asp/ [genusresources.com]

                  Will go to a prety good overview of Sarbanes-Oxley, and why it DOESNT leave companies wide open to any lawsuit some shareholder attempts.

                  You could also read up on The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It prohibits giving anything of value, directly or indirectly, to foreign government officials or foreign political candidates in order to obtain or retain business. It is strictly prohibited to make illegal payments to government officials of any country. Given the PRCs poor worldwide reputation on this, Google management could easily win just about any shareholder lawsuit, simply by saying bribery became a major issue.

                  (I give up. If I'm gonna keep biting on these legal related posts, I might as well change my sig to IANAL).
            • Re:rephrase (Score:5, Insightful)

              by hackstraw (262471) * on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @08:16AM (#10317454)
              If they want to do business in China

              You could have stopped there. They don't have to do business with China. I don't buy Nike shoes, I only go to Exxon gas stations if I think I'm going to run out of gas, etc. However, its difficult working with computers and electronics and not have dealings with China. Afterall, they provide the best slave labor in the world right now.
            • Re:rephrase (Score:5, Insightful)

              by cicho (45472) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @08:24AM (#10317494) Homepage
              "They're in a difficult position though. If they want to do business in China, then they're going to have to abide by Chinese laws and customs."

              This is exactly the problem. They "want to do business" first and foremost. That's what spammers say, too - they just want to make a buck. But it matters howHow you do business and with whom you do it - that's where capitalism stops being morally neutral. If you trade with a corrupt government knowing that it is corrupt, you are willingly assisting them, no two ways about it. It's like selling a gun to a convicted murderer, because you "want to do business" with him.
            • Re:rephrase (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:37AM (#10317933) Homepage Journal
              If China and the rest of the world sees that you can do business with China by ignoring their gross human rights violations, then nothing will ever be done about it, and you will be doing a disservice to the chinese people.

              Google enables the chinese government to keep censoring media, and that means Google approves of it. Bad Google! For this is most certainly an evil alliance.

              What if a rope manufacturer wanted to do business in the 1950's southern USA, but the lynch mobs in the south would only buy rope that was pre-tied into a noose? Is it alright to accept their demands just to do business with them?
          • Re:rephrase (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:36AM (#10317031)
            Well, the obvious solution is that they should be MARKING what they're censoring so people know that "something" was censored, even if they can't see it. When they return results for searches, or display news stories, they should just be returning a "censored" link that goes to a page explaining why they are unable to provide the content.

            Kind of like their old policy on takedown notices.

            Journalists used to do the same thing before they sold-out to the government. For eaxmple, if they were in a war situation and the government censored pieces of their footage, they'd just broadcast black on-air so that viewers knew SOMETHING was being withheld from them by the government and they could start asking questions.

            But journalists have become the pawns and puppets of government now, and rather than holding them accountable, they're just climbing into bed with them. Makes me sick.

            N.

            • Re:rephrase (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Angostura (703910)
              There is something people seem to be missing here - there is a lot of talk about Google 'doing business' in China, but the broader issue is Google being accessible *at all* in China.

              We know that previously the Great Firewall of China was used to block Google entirely. Then the ban was lifted, presumably on certain conditions. I would posit that the conditions were something like:

              1. You tweak the search results to exclude certain material
              2. You doh't make this agreement public.

              Given that is it more of les
          • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @06:50AM (#10317190) Journal
            Given China's behaviour with respect to Tibet and Taiwan, I would say that any company that specifically re-enforces the policy of the government through censorship has no more right to claim to not be evil than Fox News has to claim to be fair and balanced.

            So consider the case of underage pornography (something that the US government does censor). Should Google not censor it?

            All governments that I know of do *some* censorship -- the question is just to what degree.

            I mean, I think that the people running China are a bunch of shortsighted assholes, but they aren't qualitatively different from other governments -- just, perhaps, quantitatively. Given that we listen to US media, we hear a lot about how awful China is doing.

            On the other hand, the US Iraq occupational authority did not allow freedom of press, and in fact shut down a number of media sources for criticizing them (newspapers and the only Arab-language news network). Naturally *that* didn't get much air time -- but godless communist oppressors censoring critical media is acceptable and *required* content for us to hear about.
          • Re:rephrase (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Intrestingly enough; Rupert Murdoch, the owner of News Corp. (the parent company of all US Fox holdings), also owns several Asian media companies. Murdoch is directly responsible, among other things, for buying up the South China Morning Post and firing those journalists who dared to criticize the Chinese government. Funny that Bill O'Reilly's boss is also one of the biggest supporters of the repressive government in Beijing.

        • Re:rephrase (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @08:05AM (#10317404)
          that should read "don't be evil, that's a job for the guys who machine-gunned their own students protesting for democracy"

          For a second there I thought you meant the incident of the National Guard shooting down Vietnam War protesters.

      • by metlin (258108) * on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:51AM (#10316919) Journal
        No.

        Their motto has always been, "Don't be stupid, unless you have to".

        They're a company, and they have no obligation to the people of China to fight for their freedom of speech.

        When world nations don't care a damn, you expect a corporation that makes search engines to?

        Their playing it safe, which is exactly anyone would do in their position. If anyone should be helping the people of China, it is the people themselves and the rest of the democractic world governments.

        Judging by the current UN meetings, we seem more interested in waging wars against nations for our own vested interests - how can you expect a corporation to not protect it's interests when the bastions of democracy act thus?
        • by anothy (83176) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:01AM (#10317213) Homepage
          the problem is that the structure of the UN makes it very near impossible to impose any sort of sanctions against one of the "permanent" members of the security council - which includes both the US and China. so the US is free (from UN threat) to continue trouncing all over middle-eastern countries, while China is free (in the same sense) to continue abusing its citizens and abusing and invading its neighbors.
        • Yeah, and I'm not obligated to try to save a drowning man at the beach, or to hold the door open for an old woman, or to rush after a guy who dropped his wallet, or to do anything inconvenient to a ruthless motive of profit and time management. That doesn't mean I shouldn't do it.
        • by caitsith01 (606117) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:33AM (#10317294) Journal
          They're a company, and they have no obligation to the people of China to fight for their freedom of speech.

          ...which is exactly why many people hate or fear corporations.

          Let me ask you this: if China gets uninhibited access to the benefits of 'free' markets, including the participation of western companies, what incentive do they have to reform their human rights abuses?

          Another question: Based on your arguments, do you therefore boycott any US company that does business in China? After all, it's up to you to make a difference.

          After war, money is the most effective way to change another country's behaviour. In fact, I believe you could argue that it's more effective than war, because it tends to produce less resentment and society-wide anger. If we say 'that's just business' we are putting a rubber stamp on China's current activities.
          • by Oligonicella (659917) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @08:29AM (#10317522)
            "After war, money is the most effective way to change another country's behaviour."

            Very good. That's exactly what Google is doing, providing a venue for the insertion of capitalism (money) and information (partial search).

            "If we say 'that's just business' we are putting a rubber stamp on China's current activities."

            Please give an alternative which would allow democratic countries to have a foot in the door if you would deny those companies who would abide by their rules (that is, be allowed in in the first place)? Assuming you preclude war, that is.
      • by anothy (83176)
        no, the issue is that "evil" is a lot more complicated than most television shows tend to imply. the choice isn't between "present censored news in China" and "present uncensored news in China", it's between "present censored news in China" or "present no news in China". given the fact that no filtering is 100%, and the fact that even what's filtered is better than nothing, i'm inclined to believe that tools that increase access - even in a controlled, restricted way - are better than the absence of such ac
    • No, it isn't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SimianOverlord (727643) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:27AM (#10316845) Homepage Journal
      You would be correct if Google were selling razor blades, cheese or any other physical product. What they are doing is creating a news resource. Personally, I don't like the fact that a company which wears its ethics on its sleeve, so to mangle the metaphor, by stating "Don't be evil" as its company motto would self censor to fit into the demands of a foreign government.

      It is the precedent that is important here. When you ignore this, you erode the fundamental freedoms that form the basis of the Internet.
      • you do realise that "Evil" is a higly subjective term? basically saying "do no evil" means nothing, "do no 'stuff that you yourself would consider bad'".

        it's not a precedent either(not the first time they adhere to laws in foreign countries).

        they just happen to have the best search engine at the time, that's why I and everyone else uses it, they'll have to keep up though somehow(google is infested with linkfarms for example).
      • Re:No, it isn't (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Beautyon (214567) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:50AM (#10317064) Homepage
        Personally, I don't like the fact that a company which wears its ethics on its sleeve, so to mangle the metaphor, by stating "Don't be evil" as its company motto would self censor to fit into the demands of a foreign government.

        Your ethics and the ethics of the Chinese are not the same. Just because you think its good that news is not filtered it does not automagically follow that this is the correct way for every society to organize itself.

        It is precisely this sort of "we know best for everyone" thinking that starts wars. Your country is your business, and other peoples countries are their businesses respectively.

        If you dont like the way the Chinese organize themselvs, dont spend your money on goods made there. That is your choice, and your very great power, but dont expect people to adopt your morality, standards, ethics or anything else for that matter, because what they do is not your affair. There are enough problems in the world without more international meddling from "one size fits all" people who think they know whats good for everyone.

        Google by adapting to Chinese society are in fact being absolutely "not evil". They are showing true respect for Chinese society and sensitivities, which is precisely the way that all humans should interact with each other.

        Finally, there is no such thing as "the fundamental freedoms that are the basis of the internet". The basis of the internet are a set of protocols and nothing more. How the Chinese and for that matter the Saudis see the internet is just as valid as how you see it. IMHO that is its true beauty.
        • Re:No, it isn't (Score:4, Insightful)

          by elgaard (81259) <elgaard@ a g o l.dk> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:03AM (#10317219) Homepage
          If a companys ethics aligns with every country it operates in, it is not really ethics.

          Then they should change the slogan to "we obey local governments and make money".

          The Chinese people or government may have different values (that can be wrong). But the same company cannot believe that censorship is wrong in Denmark and OK in China.

          (this is all hypothetical, I don't know what Google is doing).
          • Re:No, it isn't (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Lehk228 (705449)
            as opposed to ignoring the requests of the PRC government and having google web pages blocked by the national firewall, yea that'll really help people. I am sure that chinese citizens would rather have censored news than no news.
        • Re:No, it isn't (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Jonathan A Frankiln (803487) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:20AM (#10317258)
          A company aiding and abetting a totalitarian government in limiting its peoples' free speech is not going to fall under "oh, we just have a difference of opinion!" Some things in life are not relative. Individual freedom is an indispensable value. It isn't just a preference from a salad bar like ranch dressing over Russian. It means something, dammit. Oppression isn't "just another way to structure a society," it's oppression. No company that does business with a totalitarian government should be allowed to do business in America. But we've let it happen, and it's too late. Our principles are rotting. In a decade, or maybe sooner, we're all going to regret having let American businesses coddle China, and letting them become addicted to an immoral revenue stream. For now, at least, all we can do is enjoy the cheap shirts.

          In case that didn't convince you, here's a hot naked woman's breast. Agree with me.
          http://pic13.picturetrail.com/VOL487/1395129/34420 88/67415647.jpg [picturetrail.com]
    • Note to Google (Score:2, Insightful)

      by paragon_au (730772)
      "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
    • The principle motive of any company is to maximise its profits. If Google thinks working in China will enhance their profitability and they don't mind the draconian laws then it makes sense for them to enter that market.

      I would love to see this same poster's comment if this article stated MSN's search engine was being censored in China. I think we would see an entirely different and less supportive comment.

      But hey, Google got the geeks before going public. I'll bet you an open proxy list Google will be c
  • by mind21_98 (18647) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:17AM (#10316805) Homepage Journal
    If they don't play into the hands of the Chinese government, they risk having all of google.com blocked. If they do, they are seen as "censors" and "pawns" of the same government. Unfortunately money and page views seem to trump over principles when given a choice. Remember, there's always the proxy server approach for whoever wants to see the "uncensored" news.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:17AM (#10316808)
    I wonder how much google supresses certain news stories that the US fed deems innappropriate?
    • Maybe not censor but (Score:5, Interesting)

      by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:38AM (#10316882)
      But certainly the news portal itself seems either biased, or US news really is that bad.

      I have noticed if I search for a story I will find it, but the google portal does give a good indication of what the US is seeing.

      For example Bushes war records. You check the news/search engine all you find is about the CBS documents.

      However if you were to dig more you would find that a judge has ordered the release of the originals (ref: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6022115/).

      I've wondered if this is a new system of polluting the news on the net. As it is harder to control stories but easy to bury them.

      • I live in Sweden, and have a friend who's from the US. When she got here she was amazed that there was so much bad news about USA and Bush here, apparently you don't get an awful lot of that in the US. If you think China is bad, don't be surprised if USA is just the same.
    • Reuters already has suppression coding in all its feeds.

      News editors are supposed to adhere to them.

      For example: http://rtv.rtrlondon.co.uk/index.html [rtrlondon.co.uk]

      This report has been marked as:

      "TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NO ACCESS BRAZIL/ INTERNET**~"

      Lots of different restrictions....
    • I wonder how much google supresses certain news stories that the US fed deems innappropriate?

      I doubt at all. I mean, every day there's headlines about this or that bad news from Iraq, or "news" like "Kerry said blah blah ...". Not to mention "reputable" exposes from CBS.

      I know it's popular for today's youngsters to pose as though they are living in an oppresive dictatorship, but it's bunk, and really insulting to those who actually do.

  • Do no evil? (Score:5, Informative)

    by diakka (2281) * on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:23AM (#10316827)
    From what I understand, Google already censors their content in other countries like France and Germany. This is only making the news because it's big bad China. Although it kind of does blow apart this image that they like to present as being crusaders of free speech.
    • by clickety6 (141178) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:43AM (#10316897)
      ... remember when Google removed a load of links because of threats from the Scientologists invoking our old friend the DMCA !

      It's not just China !

  • by mongbot (671347) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:23AM (#10316829)
    it's good business. Otherwise Google news might be blocked from China altogether and Google would lose access to a growing market. Corporations have always got along with authoritarian regimes, ever since the Nazis used IBM punch cards to tally the death counts.

    The real question is why people expect a different standard of behaviour from Google than from other companies. I mean, you guys don't really believe that "don't be evil" stuff, do you? Google is Just Another Company.
    • It's not just corporations: nations have got along with authoritatrian regimes: The US regularly supports unpleasant regimes against their democratic opponents: They helped the right wing nationalists in Spain overthrow the elected republican government; they overthrew the democratically elected government of Grenada (and there are lots of other examples is central america); they support the Al Saud rulers of Saudi Arabia, they've given China favoured nation status.

      So if you're *genuinely* concerned, and

  • by quigonn (80360) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:27AM (#10316844) Homepage
    Google already censors search results for e.g. Germany, due to sentences spoken out by some German court.
  • Woe... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shirai (42309) * on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:28AM (#10316847) Homepage
    Doesn't anybody else think that ever since Google announced a few new services that SlashDot is suddenly carrying stories that suggest that Google is evil?

    Frankly, in this case it is quite clearly the Chinese government that is responsible for this. If Google doesn't comply, their service will be blocked from China such as they have done in ths past. If by "playing into the hands of the Chinese Government" you mean that they follow the rules of that country (just like they do in the U.S.), then I suppose they are. But by that argument, Google is clearly playing into the hands of the U.S. Government too.
  • Alternatives (Score:2, Interesting)

    by barcodez (580516)
    Those wishing to take a stand this this a viable alternative to Google.

    All The Web [alltheweb.com]

    Remeber alternatives are what encourages competition and that can only be a good thing.

    Any other good search engines people can recommend?
  • understanable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by uv_light (750273) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:30AM (#10316852)
    it is understanable that google leave out those site. when people use the google chinese to search news site, who will most likely to come from China. even if google return the "correct" result, if the chinese goverment have already block the site, they will be clicking on the dead link.

    if google don't take out those site, then it will in turn hurt google.

    I am not saying it is a good thing, I personally don't agree on internet censoring, but that's how china work, it is something that won't change in a short while.
    • Whoever wrote the summary doesn't seem to have the best grasp of the English language--maybe someone from Chinese or elsewhere in Asia, who doesn't speak it as a first language.

      Besides "deeded", the phrase "playing into the hands of" is used in an odd way. Usually this phrase is used in reference to someone who is unwittingly doing things that might aid someone else (possibly a rival/enemy). From the sounds of it, Google isn't an unwitting participant in this censorship at all, it's deliberate. "Playin

  • by spiny (87740)
    is that even a real word? wouln't 'deemed' be more appropriate/readable ?

  • Not the first time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnnyNoSPAM (815401) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:34AM (#10316867)
    This is not the first time that Google has imposed some censorship over its search engine. Check out this article at WorldNetDaily: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTI CLE_ID=26819 [worldnetdaily.com]

    When Google started out, they seemed to be a refreshing alternative to other larger corporate sites. Google is now becoming part of corporate America. With that, we can expect to see a more "tame" Google geared toward minimizing the making of waves for the purpose of maintaining investor confidence and ensuring a steady profit.

    Is it "selling out"? Perhaps, but I think that this is the sort of thing that we can expect as a company expands and grows.
  • by phreakv6 (760152) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <6vkaerhp>> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:36AM (#10316872) Homepage
    here [chinaepulse.com] it is
  • No specific charges (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:36AM (#10316874) Homepage Journal
    You'd figure they could put some specific charges with dates and the precise content that wasn't available. I love the way the Slashdot summary says "read on to make your own decision" but the linked article doesn't actually contain any more detail than the summary.
  • Google's Reply (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy_R (114137) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:45AM (#10316903) Homepage Journal
    In the tradition of misleading Slashdot summaries, this one contains only the accusation, not the defence. Here's Google's reply from the article:

    "In order to create the best possible news search experience for our users, we sometimes decide not to include some sites, for a variety of reasons," says a statement issued by the company. "These sources were not included because their sites are inaccessible."
    • Re:Google's Reply (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Enoch Root (57473) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:08AM (#10316962)
      Given the sheer amount of blocked websites that still show up in a standard Google search in China, I find this claim dubious. Why do they weed out the news for blocked sites but don't do so for websites such as the BBC, which has been blocked forever and STILL shows up in a Google search?
      • Re:Google's Reply (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JimDabell (42870)
        Because their news and search offerings are very different. Their search results comes from a vast database of every document indexed, weighted by keywords and other factors. Their news results come from a small list of pre-approved news sources. Having to determine which documents are available to the Chinese out of the billions they index on an ongoing basis is a completely different matter to determining which of their hundreds of relatively static news sources are unavailable to the Chinese. Filteri
      • Yes - have to agree with you there. I'm living in China (but British) and it's a pain to see the links to BBC news when you know you can't follow them. Truthfully, there isn't a lot that you cannot read here. Even sourceforge was blocked at one point (OK now). Some of the rules used block stupid things, like the Zend PHP site. But overall it's not as bad as people make it out to be (CNN is available, contrary to what many say).

        IMHO, the more annoying thing is Google's continual links to news sites that ar
  • by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:46AM (#10316908)
    ...and confirm what the top post pointed out - I'd like to add that Google, as an aggregator, isn't a news service. Google trawls and clips...that's all.

    Anyone not aware enough to find other sources from time to time, deserves the narrowness they assume, whether it concerns Asia or Europe or NA.

    Take responsibility for your own interpretation...after all, we were taught in school how American newspapers bury or bias 'news' by placing some on the front or back pages, while other stories get jammed against an inside margin. To repeat...don't be surprised when your 'news' is crafted by the source(s) you use.
  • by r6144 (544027) <r6kNO@SPAMsohu.com> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:51AM (#10316923) Homepage Journal
    As a Chinese in China, this is hardly a surprise. Considering that Google news is accessible in China, while most foreign news sites such as CNN and BBC are blocked, I'd be very surprised if Google news are allowed to serve anything censored by the authority to those in China.

    Note that I don't think this is right, and the current internet censorship really sucks, neither does it work --- new sites containing western political views spring up every day and they can't censor them one by one. The recent efforts against porn sites are even more laughable, considering that it is still hard to find a news site in China that does not contain sexual content deemed inappropriate for children by most parents. Hopefully some time in the future they will admit that such efforts are useless and use the money on places that really need them (such as some poor rural areas).

  • by Heartz (562803) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:53AM (#10316930) Homepage
    It's easy to sit on your moral high horses and say that Google shouldn't censor news.

    However, I feel that it's better for the chinese people to get some access to google, rather than none at all. The Chinese government would not hesitate to completely remove access to google.com. This would greatly trouble a great many number of chinese people.

    Some (censored) google is better than no google.

  • Not a Surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ShadowFlair (690961)

    I agree with the first poster that it is not a surprise that they adhere to Chinese laws when feeding content to a Chinese audience.

    In fact, I think it would be odd if they don't. There is simply no point in jeopardizing their business this way.

    This reminds me of the whole Kazaa Lite censorship stuff, where they took a rather conservative route in obeying the law. But I think their stance in the legal area should save them lots of trouble dealing with the implications.

  • by CdBee (742846) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:14AM (#10316977)
    Yahoo got in trouble as an auction site they run had items on it which are illegal in France. Maybe Google are just trying to comply with local laws rather than be censored completely...
  • by syrinje (781614) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:31AM (#10317014)
    Listen up, because I gave up moderation rights on this thread to say this.

    Many of us on Slashdot use Google very frequently (almighty god, give us this day our daily byte...) to find all kinds of information including stuff that we need and use to make our livelihood. We also use google to keep up with the news. Mostly, we find what we need if it is out there on the net.

    This easy access to information on the net seems to have distorted our expectations somewhat. We expect, nay demand, that Google find everything there is to find, always, correctly, without fear or favour, without regard to consequences that might affect Google itself, without consideration for the laws of the many lands that Google serves - in short we want Google to be a completely good and benevolevent omniscient oracle. Googles 'do ot be evil" motto is partly to blame for this - especially to people unfamiliar with the context of the phrase. I don't think the motto calls on Google to commit hara-kiri to assert its fealty to freedom and the protection of all good in the universe. I do not expect Google to take on the Death Star in a battered Millenium Falcon. I do expect, and rightfully, that google will not screw me over by selling my personal information, by setting terms and conditions that take away my ability to use it in conjunction with any other service or sofware I want, by taking away my right to choose, by deliberately and maliciously determining what I see in order to increase their profit.

    Unfortunately, the same omniscient hold that Google has on the information on the net makes it easier for oppressive governments to control information. Previously, where such regimes had to track and control a million individual sources of information, they can now achieve that control by influencing Google. Since Google is subject to the laws of the countries where it operates (GASP!), it has no choice but to comply when threatened with complete blocking of its services in e.g. China or France. Remember the case of Yahoo! and neo-Nazi material? You can bet that Yahoo! will pull that information now that it is clear the first amendment will not protect them from legal process in France or Germany in respect of that material.

    So, the question is, do we give up on google altogether? Of course not - it has for better or worse, grown into an extension of our memory, we google as easily as we breathe - my three year old daughter knows that google will help her find her favorite cartoon sites! What we need is a tempering of the expectation that we have of Google. Get used to the idea - you will need it more in the days to come, Google is merely another tool you have at your disposal. It is NOT the be all and end all of all known human wisdom.

    • by JohnnyNoSPAM (815401) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @06:20AM (#10317131)
      This is a very insightful point that you make, and I certainly agree with you.

      It is also important to remember that Google is a company that intends to make money. On the one hand, Google could refuse to adhere to China's censorship. In all honesty, what can Google really do about it? If Google decided to resist the censorship, then surely the Chinese government would pull the plug on its citizens' ability to access it. Complying with Chinese restrictions means that Google will still be accessible to the Chinese people - along with Google's ability to deliver ads which Google hopes will turn a profit. Compliance means that there is still a Chinese market; noncompliance means that there is a whole country from which they cannot earn revenue.

      Still, "Google" is becoming a household name, as it were, and is to the point where people use it as a verb. Some examples of that are "'why don't you google for that information?" or "... we google as easily as we breathe ..." I believe that an underlying concern among many people (although not specifically mentioned) is that Google may become powerful enough through its tremendous influence among its Internet users that it could easily become subject to corporate influences which come more to benefiting the investors than the users.

      On the other hand, that's the beauty of choice. If Google becomes any sort of apparition whom we do not like, then there are other search engines eager to catch our interests. Likewise, some good old fashioned research (such as books, news papers, magazines, and other information available at local libraries) never hurts anyone.
  • by Anubis333 (103791) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:42AM (#10317046) Homepage
    One of the pillars of Google's trusty algorithms is finding what sites link to URLs, that's how it ranks (nay?). If it is illegal for ISPs to provide links to said URLs, wouldn't they not be in the China link database anyhow? And if China linked to them because it compared databases with those of other countries, wouldn't it be getting normal people into trouble by serving them links to illegal material, whether or not they knew it to be such?

    It just seems like a touchy subject, and I think a lot of people like to jump up and down assuming other places/countries are peopled by others like ourselves.
  • what a surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxpublic (450413)
    Google turns out to be a business rather than some geek temple of unfettered knowledge. Imagine that.

    Max
  • by Afty0r (263037) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @05:59AM (#10317087) Homepage
    Google removed from sites from its' index some time ago due to legal pressure from the Scientology movement using the legal system of the United States of America.

    Is this really news? Almost every country in the world censors now - there are few countries left where you can say anything you want. Welcome to the future, the way it has always been.
  • Eh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @06:11AM (#10317114) Journal
    Its really a business decision - if the government of a country whos internet population is over 60 million demands that you stick a few lines of code in your software or they will block you totally, what are you gonna do? sure you're aiding and abetting crimes against humanity, but business is business and 60 million people is allot of business, its not like other companies don't do it - IBM supplied counting machines to the Nazis, Cisco supplies network equipment to the Great Firewall of China.

    Also what exactly did they proove here? it seems a bit of a bad explination, if google was providing different chinese content based on your position relative to the firewall then that would mean the firewall was doing the censoring right? "Google China" means that google has determined you are in China from your IP or the address you typed - if the news was the same on both sides then that would be dodgy because it would mean the firewall wasnt changing anything so google must be?
  • by joss (1346) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @06:38AM (#10317167) Homepage
    It also has a tendancy to provide a one-sided viewpoint of israel/palestine news, although I expect this is a result of successful lobbying rather than explicit policy.

    more info here [indymedia.org]
  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @06:40AM (#10317171) Homepage Journal
    Maybe we don't have the right to blame Google for not giving up a potentially huge market as China, ok, but think about the consequences if the Google team decided to stay unfiltered and the China government had to censor them: chinese users would become third class internet citizens and have one more reason to demand a more democratic government.
    • by acceleriter (231439) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:56AM (#10317373)
      Yes, we do have the right. They're an American company and should be held to American standards. If they want to do business the Chinese way, they should start a Chinese company with seperate governance and seperate financials. That way, Americans who want to own stock in a treasonous enterprise can buy it (because it is unfortunately not illegal to invest in oppression), but those who don't can buy the U.S. stock.

      Accomodating the PRC's censorship regime doesn't do one bit of good for the Chinese in the long run--isolating China and letting the PRC be replaced by its people was the correct path, but it wasn't very good for corporate bottom lines, so they're a "Most Favored Nation" while they censor what their people can read, torture Christains, and oppress the Falun Gong.

  • by Dr.Knackerator (755466) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:05AM (#10317223) Journal
    Company chooses to make money over being banned shock!
  • by killua (604159) <nimakuNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:23AM (#10317268)
    Google is in the market to make money. They are a buisiness that is what they do. If they think by sensoring google news for chinese users that they cah make money, then yes they will be sensoring to there hearts content. Don't be fooled into thinking they are anything but that, a buisiness.

    Don't get me wrong, i like unbiased uncensored news as much as the next person, but its obvious that google feels they can make money otherwise, so is it really so shocking?
  • Homeland security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey (83763) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:54AM (#10317365) Journal
    Just wait a few years and the US will start censoring websites. In the run-up to the Iraq war US news outlets didn't ask any questions. Americans who looked at cbc.ca or bbc.co.uk realized the world was against the war (for good reason). Only seems reasonable, for homeland security reasons, that Homeland security dept should not allow Americans to read evil foreign websites in the run-up to the Iran war [washingtontimes.com].
  • by linuxrunner (225041) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @07:56AM (#10317372) Homepage
    I love how people are bitching about how Google is at fault for possible complying with the Chinese Gov't.

    And that Google's policy is Don't be evil, unless you have to...

    But no one is bitching about the Chinese Government... What's up with that? It's the Chinese Government making these policies, and if google wants in, then they must comply. Simple.

    If the United States Government required Google to filter out all READ: EVIL CONTENT, then the same folks would be up in arms over the US Gov't, and not google.

    I guess out of sight out of mind eh? Or maybe it's just expected from Communists? I can't say why... More of an observation, but I do find it interesting that people are reacting harder on Google then the Government.
  • by mowler2 (301294) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @08:18AM (#10317466)
    China may be stupid and have draconian laws. But in my opinion, and objectively, it is as much wrong to ignore laws in china if you do business in china as it is to ignore USA-laws when doing business in USA.

    If I don't agree to some laws in the USA, because they don't match my morale, it does not give me any right to ignore them. Likewise it is for google in China.

    It is simple to understand the issue by this reversed question: Should china ignore some laws in USA, if they do not agree with their morale/ideas?

    Google does the right thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @08:19AM (#10317471)
    A friend of mine just returned from a trip to China where he was working for 3 months. He said that nobody there had ever heard of the Tiananmen Square [gwu.edu] massacre. When he explained what he knew about it, the Chinese people he was talking to just said, "Anyone could make up stories about our government." He tried going back to his hotel room and searching for the information, but he couldn't get any results.

    What bothered me more was a conversation I was recently having with an American friend of mine (I'm Canadian) over a beer. He said that 9/11 was the first time that the U.S. had been the subject of an unprovoked attack on its own soil since the British attacked the U.S. in the war of 1812. I was sitting in stunned silence after he said that. I know for a fact that the U.S. burned Toronto (then called York) to the ground before the British attacked Washington. How could that be considered unprovoked? So, given that we're both products of our respective country's state funded education system, it gave me a queasy feeling to say the least.
  • by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:05AM (#10317741) Homepage Journal
    Google:
    • Won't post (paid for) ads about firearms products.
    • Will assist a repressive regime in censoring information from its people.

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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