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Censorship Google Your Rights Online

Google.cn Has Already Lifted Censorship 300

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-luck-great-firewall dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In an update to Google's withdrawal from China, there are reports that censorship has already been lifted. It's probably taken a while to report because of Google's ranking system." Just a warning that the language on that blog post is NSFW but it does provide evidence.
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Google.cn Has Already Lifted Censorship

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  • I only hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:05AM (#30749864)

    Google's expat employees are now out of China.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rvw (755107)

      Google's expat employees are now out of China.

      Yeah I think the Chinese government will now cease all property that belongs to Google, send all employees to work camps, and then will start a full scale war on the US. I mean, what do they have to loose? When Google is gone, China will collapse anyway, so they might as well go with a good blast.

      • Re:I only hope (Score:5, Informative)

        by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:36AM (#30750228)

        Yeah I think the Chinese government will now cease all property that belongs to Google, send all employees to work camps......

        You mean like Stern Hu, the Australian executive for Rio Tinto, who has been held by the Chinese since July 5, 2009?

        http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601081&sid=aq9DMlCuW45M [bloomberg.com]

        • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:40AM (#30750282)
          Aw man... why did you have to go ruining the guy's witty sarcasm with that reality shit?
        • Re:I only hope (Score:5, Informative)

          by trenton (53581) <trentonl@TOKYOgmail.com minus city> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:09PM (#30755308) Homepage
          From the TFA:

          Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman at China's Foreign Ministry, said ... "The case will be handled in a just and lawful manner." Jiang didn't answer a question on when there will be a trial.

          Gimmie more of that Chinese justice!

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:51AM (#30750434) Homepage Journal

        I think the Chinese government will now cease all property that belongs to Google

        Will they need a seize and desist order?

        what do they have to loose?

        Nothing, it's clearly a tight situation.

      • by vegiVamp (518171)
        "seize". "full-scale". "lose".

        They've managed for over 4000 years. I think they'll manage without Google for a little while longer.
    • by xaxa (988988)

      I don't speak Chinese, but it seems not to be censored. For instance, the last line on this results page [google.cn] says (putting it through Google Translate) "According to local laws, regulations and policies, some search results are not shown".

      (The query is for Tienanmen Square, I think, which I used Wikipedia to "translate". The google.com.hk [google.com.hk] results for the same query are very different).

      • by Raynor (925006)

        The idea is that previously had you searched for TS on google.cn you would not have found any results related to the protests. The image supplied shows that a very famous and previously censored image does now show up on the .cn version of google. As mentioned page rank will still rank those pages very low, however, they are no longer censored.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:06AM (#30749872) Journal

    It's probably taken a while to report because of Google's ranking system.

    I don't understand how this explains it. The searches shown have very low results for the offensive images? I don't think Google would be foolish enough to remove values from their page ranking system or fiddle with those numbers. Rather it would seem much more intuitive to build an interface that filters designated problem links and images. It's probably even automated for some bullshit arm of the Chinese government (who the devil is it these days? The Ministry of Culture?) that can go into a web portal and just add images and domains and pages to a list of restrictions. Maybe even the government is savvy enough to have an feed or service that gives this information out to companies to assure compliance and ease of compliance? A simpler answer is that a few new sites popped up and the government just hasn't added them to the no-no list yet. If you look at the URLs in the images, they are from blogspot.com which means they're probably new blogs that need to be individually blocked by the Chinese government and/or Google. What you're probably seeing is lazy censorship or the latency of an adequate solution for censorship -- which is pretty much as defective by design as it gets. I don't think "lifts" censorship is what's going on here or else Google would be looking at losing business to one sixths of the world's population. While Google professes 'do no evil' they still have shareholders to satisfy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheKidWho (705796)

      What /. needs to do is start censoring big walls of text.

    • What makes the most sense to you? That Google announces that they lifted censorship while purposely keeping censorship on and just sliding an image or two in hoping the whole thing blows over before anyone notices or that like they say, that it takes a little bit for the ranking system to normalize

      I know for a fact I've searched google.cn for Tienanmen square before and there was nothing about the massacre on the first page, and definitely no pictures of tanks, and now there is so I'm likely to believe the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)

      Who knows what the algorithm is but part of it is probably cross-links in the local language. Then probably pages that are searched for a lot by different users. This would also be low in China currently.

      One of my girlfriends worked with a chinese lady who swore up and down that TS never happened. Even when confronted with web evidence and after living in the US for several years. So there is a fair amount of brainwashing going on at an early age.

  • FTFA (Score:2, Informative)

    by gyepi (891047)
    "Status @ 22:30 NZT, 17:30 Beijing time, 13-01-10: Despite reports to the contrary Google.cn is still censored."
    • No cherry picking (Score:5, Informative)

      by FatAlb3rt (533682) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:10AM (#30750734) Homepage
      "Current Status @ 23:30 NZT, 18:30 Beijing time, 13-01-10: Heaps of reports of uncensored stuff. My post below may not be accurate. The images below show massive differences between google.cn results and google.com.hk results. The difference may be just a residual effect of the censorship - because Google ranks stuff based on links, previously censored materials may still be poorly ranked, even though they're no longer censored."
  • Falun Gong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Albanach (527650) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:11AM (#30749934) Homepage

    There's still search differences though

    http://www.google.cn/search?hl=zh-CN&q=falun+gong [google.cn]

    is quite different to

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=zh-CN&q=falun+gong [google.com]

    Though either does a lot better than Yahoo!

    http://search.cn.yahoo.com/s?p=falun+gong&v=web&pid=ysearch [yahoo.com]

  • I always wanted to own a Megacorporation, like Shin-Ra. You know, a big business that has its own army and basically can control the government by military force.
    • > You know, a big business that has its own army and basically can control the
      > government by military force.

      There is a word for that. It is called a "government". The owner is usually referred to as "Dear Leader", "President for Life", or similar.

      • Re:Megacorps (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:17AM (#30750828) Journal
        A government is geographically limited. A big business can set up wherever it wants and, if sufficiently powerful, have its rules supersede the local laws. In many places in the world, corporations are more overtly powerful than governments.
        • by Abcd1234 (188840)

          A government is geographically limited. A big business can set up wherever it wants and, if sufficiently powerful, have its rules supersede the local laws. In many places in the world, corporations are more overtly powerful than governments.

          Well, then it's a good thing capitalism == good, while government == bad! W00t! *high-fives*

        • A government is geographically limited. A big business can set up wherever it wants and, if sufficiently powerful, have its rules supersede the local laws. In many places in the world, corporations are more overtly powerful than governments.

          Err, well, for counter point see United States re: Iraq.

          "A government can set up wherever it wants and, if sufficiently powerful, have its rules supersede local laws." That's usually known as "nation building" and we do it all the time.

        • Re:Megacorps (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @12:58PM (#30752368)

          A government is geographically limited. A big business can set up wherever it wants and, if sufficiently powerful, have its rules supersede the local laws.

          A government that is sufficiently powerful can also set up wherever it wants, and have its rules supersede the local laws (both in the practical sense, and even further by simply replacing the government with one that will impose new laws more to the intruding government's liking -- or the intruding government can just displace the local government and assume the job for itself.) Historically, examples of this are quite common.

          So, I would say that the contrast you draw is quite misguided.

    • by Krneki (1192201)
      You mean like the Mexican drug cartel?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dintech (998802)

      Who needs military to control the government when you've got cash?

      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        Cash is a tool of the government and becomes worthless once the government says it is.

        Real power and property on the other hand doesn't disappear at the whims of a government.

    • Re:Megacorps (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @01:30PM (#30752954)

      from TFA:

      "It's not Google leaving China, it's China leaving the world."

  • by Affenkopf (949241) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:18AM (#30750016)
    Meanwhile German Google is still censored (no youporn and a few other porn sites, no neo nazi sites).

    I wish our government would do something to piss Google off so that we could have uncensored search results (to be fair: In Germany we can just switch from the censored google.de to the uncensored google.com)
    • by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:38AM (#30750242)

      "In Germany we can just switch from the censored google.de to the uncensored google.com"

      But you may need to add /ncr to the google url to avoid automatic country redirection depending on your location.

      http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=873 [google.com]

    • by MSBob (307239) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:39AM (#30750264)
      Youporn banned in Germany? How come?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by lukas84 (912874)

        Censorship in Germany and many other European countries is done under the guise of "protecting the children" ("Jugendschutz").

        Germany hasn't really learned from it's past and is heavily promoting censorship as a solution to all issues. For example, it is illegal to deny that the holocaust happened.

      • by aquabat (724032)
        Wish I had a funny mod point for you, Bob. That made my morning. :D
      • In certain german jurisdictions, (perhaps all of them, by now) verifiable proof of age is required.

      • by cyxxon (773198)
        (Hardcore) porn may not be distributed to minors, and "Yes I am over 18!" links on the homepage have been found not enough to make sure the minors don't see it, it has to be "real" age verification. Even services that you had to enter our personalausweis number (personal id card) which has the birthdate encoded into it were verboten, since the algorith was rather trivial to fool...
      • Banning Youporn bolsters the red light district.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      The censorship of neo nazi search I feel is an understandable cultural issue for Germany. It might even be a choice that Google made without government involvement. The fact that you can get around it so simply makes me think it is more of a statment of intent than evil censorship.
      Just for arguments sake would it be evil for a search engine to self censor?
      Just why would it be wrong for a search engine to decide to offer a "clean" search product that didn't have porn, neo nazi, and klan sites?
      Wouldn't it jus

      • by Rysc (136391) *

        Just for arguments sake would it be evil for a search engine to self censor?

        Yes.

        Just why would it be wrong for a search engine to decide to offer a "clean" search product that didn't have porn, neo nazi, and klan sites?

        As long as the non-"clean" version remains easily accessible this would be not be wrong, it would be fine.

        The issue here is who decides. If you voluntarily, as a personal choice, choose to use the clean search (e.g. in prefs turn Safe Search on) then there is no problem. If the company takes that choice from you, then that's a problem.

    • by Lazy Jones (8403)

      I wish our government would do something to piss Google off so that we could have uncensored search results

      You don't need that, all you need to do is build a local search engine that is more popular than Google (Baidu [baidu.com] in China). Google just doesn't want to play by the same rules anymore, since they lost.

  • by Orleron (835910) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:22AM (#30750064) Homepage
    The Chinese need to learn that we will not do business with them until they clean up their human rights issues, implement better protection of IP, and stop being the dishonorable cheaters that they are.
    • by Infernal Device (865066) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:45AM (#30750338)

      This is a mere trifle to the Chinese government. Real change will have to come from within China - when enough of them want a change in their government and way of life, they'll fight for it. Otherwise, there's really not much anyone can do that will improve things measurably.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Real change will have to come from within China - when enough of them want a change in their government and way of life,

        ...they'll be slaughtered en masse as an example to the others.

        • Didn't say it would be pleasant or fun. They might not even win.

          But eventually, they might.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cromar (1103585)
            You know they have fought before and lost right? Even as recently as 20 years ago? It's easy to chastise the people of China when you don't live there, but I personally cannot imagine going through what they do. You even assume the majority of people in China understand the Western idea of personal liberty. It's easy to make arm chair judgments about them, but I wager that if you were in their shoes, and it was your ass on the line, you wouldn't be able to do as much as you seem to think you could.
      • by Tom (822) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @12:15PM (#30751718) Homepage Journal

        when enough of them want a change in their government and way of life, they'll fight for it.

        Exactly. And you know what? They don't want to change either.

        Like it or not, the current government has lifted a billion people out of horrible poverty. Some are still poor, some are doing ok, but all of them are a lot better off than their parents or grandparents were. Even the definition of "poor" has changed. The "poor" chinese of today would have been considered well-off less than a hundred years ago.

        And idealism aside, hunger trumps liberty.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:29AM (#30750130)

    I think it's more likely that there were other business considerations that had already made Google feel like it was difficult to do business with China, and the censorship lift is just PR gravy.

    • by Z8 (1602647) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:46AM (#30750348)

      News: Google enters China, censors results
      Slashdot: This proves Google is an evil multinational company just after money!

      News: Google uncensors results, leaves China.
      Slashdot: Yet more evidence Google will do anything for money!

      • 'Slashdot' is currently trying to wrap its collective mind around the issue.

        Your characterisation of it being of a single mind is a bit premature.

        Furthermore, I have seem more (in number as well as in intelligence) comments commending Google's stance than disparaging it...

    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:21AM (#30750872) Homepage

      Uh, they already said there were business considerations. Specifically, their systems, along with those of quite a few other large companies, were hacked in order to gain information about Chinese dissidents.

    • I'm not sure if it was in the linked TFA, because I didn't read it, but in the story I read this morning it was in response to a hacking attempt from within China aimed at getting at information about who had been searching for censored subjects.
  • I appreciate the warning over language, though it didn't look worse than other sites /. links to from my brief look. But there are (albeit thumbnailed) images of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which are probably more important to warn people about.

    Also, the article has evidence that censorship has not ceased so YMMV with this story.

  • Do No Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by castironpigeon (1056188) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:51AM (#30750436)
    Google gets a fair amount of /. bashing just because it's grown as large as it has and sometimes they may even deserve it, but here we have an example of Google doing a good thing. You don't see many megacorporations taking a stand against internet censorship. Even if Google profits from this in some way and it isn't entirely a selfless act it's nice to see them doing something that benefits us little people too.
  • by Agent0013 (828350) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:01AM (#30750592) Journal
    I remember back when Google first decided to offer censored search in China they were questioned as to whether they were in keeping with their motto of not being evil. Some said that by cooperating with China at all they are participating in the evil being done. Others thought that it was better to offer some search to the people rather than none. People can still make use of a good quality search, and some illicit material will still be available since no filter is 100%.

    Now they could just keep cooperating with the Chinese government to stay in business there. Most companies would probably do that rather than stand up for themselves and fight back. It helps themselves as much as it is a good thing to stand for.

    They probably have many non-altruistic reasons for doing what they are doing. But I bet the thought of their image, or brand, and how it would look depending on what they do had an impact on what they decided. So by having the motto of "Don't be Evil", they actually become less evil. And if doing good things helps their image, and helps to make them money, then so-be-it. At least good things are being done rather than more of the status-quo of mostly evil.

    Hurray Google!
  • Just compare
    the cn version [google.cn] with the one that the rest of the world [google.co.uk] sees

  • by vampire_baozi (1270720) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:03AM (#30750622)

    No matter what it does, we are too distrustful of large MNCs to ever assume they are capable of actually making a principled stand that would run contrary to business interests. The Google narrative of the situation is fairly clear: one of the costs of doing business in China was to kowtow to government censorship demands (complying with Chinese law, as they comply with American law in America and German law in Germany). They felt it was wrong (or not) but claimed the greater evil would be to NOT enter the search market, leaving it to be dominated by companies who would have no qualms about censorship whatsoever (see Yahoo handing over IP addresses).
    They later discovered they had no leverage; the good they could do by being able to provide search results that were clearly marked as "censored" was outweighed by the harm that could be done by leaked information, and they were unable to do anything (within the bounds of Chinese law) to prevent it. Thus, they reevaluated, and are considering exiting the market.

    The alternative is that it is simply a business strategy switch: they discovered the market is unprofitable, and are exiting or some shit.

    The problem with this is simple: even if we concede that Chinese consumers don't click or buy anything through Google ads, rendering their business model moot, Google needs the market share. The Chinese will not always be poor. There are huge number of middle class Chinese in cities with enough disposable income to make purchases. The revenue streams will grow over the years. If they cede the market to Baidu, by the time the Chinese are rich enough to afford to buy products online through ads, Google will have to enter the market as a new player with no market share to start. Not being a business analyst for google, I do not know exactly how many clicks they need to remain profitable in China. But given the huge numbers of urban Chinese with money to spare, and the impressive rate of growth, it will only be a matter of time before (urban) China catches up to Taiwan and Korea (and eventually Japan). When that happens, it will be a much more profitable market than the US and Europe.

    While I'm inclined to distrust MNCs, it is possible that they really are trying to make a stand. Did anyone know/leak this before it was announced, making them fear a Yahoo-style shitstorm? Otherwise, it would have made more sense to keep it quiet, simply say there was an attack, and leave the targets of the attack unannounced, and then continue business as usual. But no matter what it does, it will be accused of simply following the money. But hey, props to google for trying, in my book.

  • by euyis (1521257) <{euyis} {at} {infinity-game.com}> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:11AM (#30750740)
    I am Chinese and have been using the Google.com (/ncr) for years. Never touched that .cn shit, and actually we call it "the eunuch Google".
  • Type "Judaism is", "Hinduism is", or "Christianity is" into google, and an autocomlpete will give the option of "... is false". Now try the same with Islam .... in fact try to get any negative sounding suggestion. You'll find it has been cenostrd as "non PC", or maybe google staff got some death threats or something like that.
  • But seriously, even if true, this is going to last all of five minutes. Google has a losing hand against the Chinese government. The original press release did not say they lifted censorship. It said they would discuss the legality of "legal unfiltered results" which is clearly COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE if you have been paying any attention to the violent hermetic paranoia of China's government.

    One of three things will probably occur:

    • Google quietly continues to censor and keeps the market;
    • Google abandons the ma
    • by farble1670 (803356) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @01:23PM (#30752828)

      The original press release did not say they lifted censorship. It said they would discuss the legality of "legal unfiltered results"

      you are 1/2 right. the quote is below,

      We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.

      they haven't done it yet (at the time the blog was written), but they said they have decided that they will lift censorship, period. the decision was made. this is a pretty strong statement. if they backtracked on this, they would face a PR nightmare.

  • Given that Google appears to have proof of pretty serious espionage, should not Bing (Microsoft) and Yahoo! both withdraw their search engines from China as well? This would be the responsible thing to do - if they are, in fact, responsible companies.

    What say we lobby Steve Balmer and Carol Bartz (Yahoo!'s CEO) and see whether they have to cojones to fight against what is a very serious problem: Chinese state-funded black hats.

    What I don't understand is that the West has made China what it is today. Why b

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