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Censorship Google Government The Internet Your Rights Online

China Warns Google To Obey Or Leave 533

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-wears-the-pants-in-this-family dept.
suraj.sun writes with this snippet from an Associated Press report: "China's top Internet regulator insisted Friday that Google must obey its laws or 'pay the consequences,' giving no sign of a possible compromise in their dispute over censorship and hacking. 'If you want to do something that disobeys Chinese law and regulations, you are unfriendly, you are irresponsible and you will have to pay the consequences,' Li Yizhong, the minister of Industry and Information Technology, said on the sidelines of China's annual legislature. ... 'Whether they leave or not is up to them,' Li said. 'But if they leave, China's Internet market is still going to develop.' ... Li insisted the government needs to censor Internet content to protect the rights of the country and its people. 'If there is information that harms stability or the people, of course we will have to block it,' he said."
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China Warns Google To Obey Or Leave

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  • Sure buddy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spazdor (902907) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:06PM (#31454794)

    Mr. Google:
    Before leaving, please deploy a transparent, ubiquitous distributed darknet app. I just know you're sitting on one.

  • Game of Chicken (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VoiceInTheDesert (1613565) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:07PM (#31454798)
    The question is will Google jump off the tracks before the China train hits them.

    I really don't know who would be more hurt by this. On one hand, Google provides huge resources to China, but on the other hand...google surely gets a lot of revenue from such a huge market.
  • Sure... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kid Zero (4866) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:07PM (#31454812) Homepage Journal

    ..and if we want your data, we'll take it and you'll like it. Seems Google found someone more evil than them.

  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:08PM (#31454816)

    This will settle once and for all whether or not Google's motto represents true company ethics, or pandering. Go, Google! Set a true example for the modern corporate world to follow!

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:15PM (#31454906) Homepage Journal
    'If there is information that harms stability or the people, of course we will have to block it,' he said."

    Yes, wouldn't want the people to know about the corruption of your officials [msn.com]. That wouldn't be a good thing.

    I used the issue of China in my IT ethics class and said that having Google or Cisco leave China because they refuse to censor brings up a whole host of other issues. If Google leaves, are they taking their code and such with them? What about equipment they used? Are they scrubbing that before leaving? What about any documents pertaining to how their searches are done?

    While the Chinese people won't see much of a difference if Google leaves, the Chinese IT folks might have some issues recreating what was once there. Personally, Google should leave and post whatever information they want so people know what they had to deal with in China.

    As most asian countries have a cultural bias towards not losing stature, having their dirty laundry aired, the really dirty stuff, would be a mighty slap in the face which China won't be able to deny so easily. They'll deny it, but their words will ring hollow.
  • Re:Advice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:15PM (#31454918)

    Killing foreign nationals? That's going to go over well. I mean, China could start killing native Google employees, but they would still be treading far too close to causing an international incident. China relies on Multinational Corporations far too much to basically start a war with one over search results. China would become a much less attractive area for manufacturers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:23PM (#31455040)

    Google planned to pull out from the beginning. They're just having a dick-waving contest with the Chinese government to justify it to stockholders. They're already getting fucked by Chinese government subsidized services like baidu. Say it with me now:

    As a foreigner, you cannot compete in China against a Chinese competitor.
    As a foreigner, you cannot compete in China against a Chinese competitor.
    As a foreigner, you cannot compete in China against a Chinese competitor.

    The Chinese government won't stand for it. The Chinese people won't stand for it. They will engage in espionage and then sabotage against you, as we've already seen. They will force you to obey laws that they ignore, as we've already seen. They will subsidize your opponent if you're from out of country, as we've already seen. It is, in fact, a losing battle.

    Don't get me wrong, I've got many good Chinese friends and dated a couple Chinese women, but I will never EVER do business in China. It's a losing proposition.

  • by Trip6 (1184883) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:29PM (#31455144)

    China's leaders still live in a world of controlled information flow to the masses. This works well if the masses have to come to you for their information and culturally accept this form of government.

    The more Chinese that return home after being abroad and experiencing a free flow of information, the faster these policies will no longer be tolerated by the masses. Government will have to change with the times. But the change will have to come from within and it will take another generation or two.

    For now, Google has to play by the rules of those in power. The business opportunity is too great to ignore, so we can predict they will conform.

  • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:36PM (#31455220)
    I would like to add only two things to your post, if I may:

    In their first option, they can stand up to their philosophical beliefs --which is a VERY rare thing these days for any major company-- and keep up the fight.

    Google isn't Chinese. Many would argue it's not their fight. It's a technological Vietnam War. Are they doing the right thing by not censoring their results? According to us, and our culture they may be, but not according to the host which has accepted them as a dinner guest. It's morally relative and looks a lot like a modern-day "The King and I".

    someone (MS with Bing?) would jump in their place right away and it would be like nothing ever happened

    Except it wouldn't be like nothing ever happened. Whoever jumps in their place gains an enormous market share, which would rattle the strength of Google at a shareholder level. Search engines are some of the shortest-lived giants our modern technology has bred. Google may be an unstoppable juggernaut today, but its family pedigree show us that adolescent heart attacks are the norm for its stock.

  • Re:Advice (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:45PM (#31455376)
    How can China still be producing goods cheaper than anywhere else in the world? The amount of things exported from China should increase the value of their currency, yet it stays down. WTF is going on?
  • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:00PM (#31455582) Homepage
    Well, you are right in that freedom is something that's part of our western culture. However, I think your comparison to the Vietnam War is somewhat lacking. In that war, we (the US and western countries) were fighting communism (or at least that was the proxy portion of the war). There's a BIG difference between fighting against a philosophical belief (Such as censorship is wrong) and fighting against a political system you think is wrong (even if it contains philosophical beliefs that you feel are wrong). This is directly fighting the belief, not the whole system. There are many different forms of government in the world today. Google isn't trying to say that "Anything but Democracy is wrong" (As we did in the Cold war), they are saying that this particular philosophical belief is wrong.

    The different culture argument I feel is weak. If it was part of a culture to kill anyone who started walking with their left foot first (instead of their right foot first), is that something that the rest of the world should overlook? If it's part of a culture to starve everyone except the ruling party, does that mean the rest of the world should overlook it? The fundamental issue at hand here is basic human rights. Those rights that are completely culture independent... That's where the moral line is drawn between "that's just their culture and we should respect it" and "what they are doing is wrong, and we should fight it". That line is different for every single person in every single country. The unanswered question at hand is whether or not freedom of information (not censored) is a fundamental human right. Personally, I believe that it is. I THINK that most of the intellectual world would agree with that statement (of course that's an assumption, but at least I am saying it as such). The unfortunate thing, is that not everyone will agree (obviously). So how do you make a determination on what to do? Do you always ignore a perceived problem because someone may not agree that it's actually a problem? Or do you pick and choose your battles to include only those problems that you not only feel morally justified fighting, but have the support of a lot of people around you? I, personally, would choose the second... Someone's got to fight for the rights of people that can't fight for themselves (Again, in my opinion)...
  • by PalmKiller (174161) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:01PM (#31455592) Homepage
    Hopefully, that means that china will no longer be able to search for email addresses efficiently to spam.
  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ivanwyc (1649687) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:11PM (#31455748)
    Not really. Most young educated Chinese aren't aware of how many people were killed in the past. Textbooks tell you nothing. Most teachers (who wants to keep their jobs) tell you nothing. Many teenagers don't even know what's 6/4 - go grab 10 young guys in cities like Shen Zhen asking them what's 6/4, I am sure you will be very depressed. Even people in the more civilized city Hong Kong don't know how many people are killed during the Cultural Revolution, they don't even have a rough idea. I know only because I read so many books about modern Chinese history but when I try to tell my friends about these facts, they don't give a shit. Guess what, the Chinese education system is very successful at making people cold blood about history. Many people think it's silly to know about all these things - the only thing they care is how many years they have to work until they can buy the expensive yet small apartment, they think this is the only thing they born to do.
  • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:12PM (#31455754) Homepage
    It is their decision though, isn't it? The employees over there have every right to leave the company if they felt that it was doing the wrong course of action. I'm pretty sure that Google would probably pull out of China if all of a sudden 1/2 their senior staff up and quit (especially if they cited their anti-censorship behavior). So by that logic, it IS their decision already.

    But the difference here, is that we cannot know if their reason for not wanting to go against censorship is because they believe that censorship is right and moral, or they fear their government... And that's why the fight can't be just discarded as "it's not our fight" (At least by a someone who feels that censorship is morally wrong and goes against everyone's basic human rights)...
  • Re:Oh really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:13PM (#31455776) Homepage

    but a communist government is an unacceptable evil by its very existence.

    Communism, like many other unfortunate realities, is one of those things that makes perfect sense on paper...until you factor in human nature. Then it becomes a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by klenwell (960296) <klenwell@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:14PM (#31455784) Homepage Journal

    Peasants don't know and don't care about history. They do know that the local party officials are corrupt, and that many of them are getting shafted. An uncensored, free internet would be a great way for them to learn more,share stories, and organize. It would be an amazing platform for the criticism of the communist party.

    On this subject, see the recent NY Times article about the Chinese "human search engine":

    China’s Cyberposse [nytimes.com]

    The article asserts that the internet is being leveraged by the central party for this very purpose.

    The article was a bit eye-opening for me for it showed:

    A) how most Chinese citizens' interest and usage of the internet differs from most American (less social networks, more B.B.S.-driven interaction)

    B) how the internet is a developing platform for reform in China

    C) how it can both be a platform for reform and yet still censored

    D) how it could accomplish all these things without Google and still satisfy most Chinese citizens

    I'm for Google standing up for principle. I'm not convinced how much impact it would really have.

  • by kawabago (551139) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:25PM (#31455920)
    A free press protects the people from their government. Censorship protects the government from the free press. If the government of China really does have the best interests of it's people at heart then it would not have to use censorship to prevent it's failures from being brought to the attention of it's people. People don't need their government to protect them from porn or hate propaganda, people are amazingly good at doing this themselves. The government of China might as well say the moon is made of cheese, it would be just as true as claiming they need to protect their people from imaginary harm.
  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:29PM (#31456878)

    Parent post should be modded Insightful or Informative because seriously folks, it's so right on the money that I can't even begin to tell you all the ways in which it is true.

    It's not racism, either. I'm Chinese myself and I can tell you first-hand that the above is exactly why China is well on their way toward dominating the global economy. The rest of the world is too busy worrying about pissing them off because they're so greedy to compete in such a huge market, desperate for what scraps the government throws them. China is a trap--the modern-day economic equivalent of the Opium Wars, only this time the tables are turned.

  • Re:Power of delusion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:36PM (#31456984)

    What right does Google have to interfere with our internal politics?

    I think that's the type of thoughts that Google's pull-out will generate in China.

    If Google pulls out, then they most certainly are not interfering with China's internal politics. Pulling out means that you've given up and are now refusing to participate.

    What's really funny about all of this is that the only big company we see actually doing anything at all to fight against censorship and oppression is doing so because one of its founders is Russian. All-American Microsoft is more than happy to assist in censorship and oppression, by contrast.

  • Re:Sure buddy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jonadab (583620) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:14PM (#31459156) Homepage Journal
    Probably. But I'm not sure they need to. I'm not close enough to the situation to tell, but it is possible that the Chinese government may be bluffing. Actually kicking Google out would be a pretty big deal and has the potential to ruin somebody's political career in a pretty big hurry, by upsetting too many of the wrong people. (I'm not talking about upsetting the regular people on the street. I'm talking about upsetting people who have actual influence.)

    Of course, even if they are bluffing, Google may not be sure that that's the case.

    Time will tell.
  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RocketRabbit (830691) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:32PM (#31460574)

    Talk to a Chinese person. Educated ones.

    Most of them have *NO IDEA* that Mao ever killed anybody. Most of them are completely unaware of Tienamin Square, other than a nice place to take a stroll.

    They are hardly aware of these things. It is somewhat dishonest to suggest they "don't care" when they don't know, when all books, videos, an mention of these things has been erased from history.

    Question: How much did you get paid for your post?

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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