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Censorship China Google Government Your Rights Online

Google Gives Up Fight Against Chinese Censorship 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the fighting-is-hard dept.
judgecorp writes "Google has abandoned its policy of warning Chinese users against keywords that trigger censorship. The search giant had added a warning that advised Chinese users not to use search terms that could cause the Chinese authorities to shut off their access to Google, but has now abandoned these warnings. While Google says they were ineffectual, free speech campaigners have expressed disappointment."
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Google Gives Up Fight Against Chinese Censorship

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  • by mmell (832646) <mike@the-mells.com> on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:26PM (#42507421) Homepage
    ...about their government. If a Chinese citizen uses Google and searches for something which the People's Republic of China somehow considers unacceptable, it isn't Google's job to warn him - it's the citizen's job to understand the laws of his country and honor them as he/she sees fit.

    Now, if you want to complain about somebody, complain about the People's Republic of China. It's THEIR laws and policies which make this a threat to free speech, not Google's capitulation to the lawful government of China.

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:39PM (#42507575) Journal

      not Google's capitulation to the lawful government of China.

      Oh jeez, not this tired old bullshit again.

      Legality is *no* justification. Morality and legality are entirely separate separate things and should never be conflated.

      If you wish to Goodwin the thread there, then there are plenty of fine examples to illustrate the point.

    • Would you say it isn't anyone's job bring censorship to light, and that it's up to Americans individually to understand, and to obey or rebel as he/she sees fit? I'm quite certain in that case you'd disagree, and you'd likely counter-argue that the individual's attempt to enlighten him/herself without help is a futile act in the presence of a state which has so much control on media and information. If that could be true of the US, why would that not be even more so of China?

      • Google should not have been doing with China anyway, for ethical reasons.

        Despite their old "Do No Evil" slogan (man, you sure don't hear that much anymore), when people protested their planned cooperation with Chinese government censorship, and said they should not go to China at all, Google's argument was (literally): "If we don't do it, someone else will."

        It seems to me that has been Google's ethics, in a nutshell.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by ohnocitizen (1951674)
      Its google's decision to do business with the "lawful" government of China. The argument has always been "its ok if they do business with an oppressive government - they'll use that access to have a positive influence". Without that strip of pretense, it comes down to doing whatever an oppressive government wants in order to increase profitability. The fact that so many companies and countries accept China's oppression of its own people surely does not help the situation.
      • Hey, capitalism.
        • It is possible to turn a profit without selling out moral principle. To do otherwise is to render "don't be evil" a worthless bit of corporate PR.
      • How about all the people that support these actions?

        When you buy a product that is made in China you also support these policies. You can't just say that the businesses are bad without also saying that the people that support them are bad also.

        • True, complicity is shared, though you'd be hard pressed to argue it is shared equally. I wouldn't call google's collusion with China equivalent to China's restriction of free speech, I'd call it contributory. Additionally one might say is that the level of corporate collusion with an oppressive government is an effective target to apply political pressure.
    • by detritus. (46421)

      It's not their job, but it makes me more comfortable when they take a global stance against oppressive governments so they hopefully continue to keep me in the loop with my own.

    • by icebike (68054)

      ...about their government. If a Chinese citizen uses Google and searches for something which the People's Republic of China somehow considers unacceptable, it isn't Google's job to warn him - it's the citizen's job to understand the laws of his country and honor them as he/she sees fit.

      Now, if you want to complain about somebody, complain about the People's Republic of China. It's THEIR laws and policies which make this a threat to free speech, not Google's capitulation to the lawful government of China.

      Logically, people in the box can't even know they are in the box or, that the box even exists.
      Google was not trying to circumvent Chinese laws against accessing certain things on the internet, but merely telling their users what to avoid.
      Even that is not permitted, in other words: the People are not allowed to know that the box exists.

      (Probably the Chinese internet users are not that clueless. Given a few generations, they will be.)

      But your suggestion that people complain about the PRC instead of Google se

    • by mmell (832646)
      Wow! I got clear up to "5 - Informative". I was at "2 - Insightful".

      Now I'm at "1 - Informative". So this is how Slashdot moderation works, eh? This is hilarious! When does betting close, and does this game pay odds?

  • by RichMan (8097) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:26PM (#42507425)

    Google was warning people before they searched. Who reads the fine-print before starting these days.

    What they could do, is on any search that used a keyword, make the warning the first result.

    Example :Search Tuna:
    1) Tuna is a trigger search word used by China to start investigations into users.
          >
    2) Tuna are a great food to eat

    • by mmell (832646)
      Too late. Sorta like predicting a hurricane will hit yesterday. By the time users see that warning, they will already have mortally sinned - nothing for it but an extended vacation at the local People's Reeducation through Labor facility.
      • by xaxa (988988)

        I used Google search in China, and found it very unreliable. .COM wouldn't work at all, and .com.hm was erratic, so I used .co.uk. Some pages would load fine, but others wouldn't -- the first network packet (mostly the HTML header, title, etc) would be received, then the TCP connection would be reset. I suspect Google had something in the page like "Due to the government ... some results have been removed", and the Great Firewall blocked these packets and shut the connection.

        Google displays a notice when

        • Your google shows .co.uk? Oh wait, you are trying to make a point that other countries also have censorship and that those countries will start investigating you for search results that have DMCA flags.

          That was really subtle of you!!! Wow!!!

          Thanks for teaching us a valuable lesson that you think the UK is just like China

          • by xaxa (988988)

            I think your reply says more about you than me.

            I live in the UK. Google.co.uk is the default.

            I assume the DMCA results are removed because Google is a US company, and that they'd be removed on all international versions of the site.

            • Ok...

              Your google shows .co.uk? Oh wait, you are trying to make a point that other countries also have censorship and that those countries will start investigating you for search results that have DMCA flags.

              That was really subtle of you!!! Wow!!!

              Thanks for teaching us a valuable lesson that you think the US is just like China

              Better?

    • That's fairly pointless. Let's say I start typing "Tuna". My browser sends "Tuna" to Google's servers so it can get a list of suggested search phrases, including the two you provided. On its way to Google servers... it passes through Chinese ISP servers and I get flagged for searching for Tuna. Google's warning would come too late.

      Google's system, though I never saw it myself, sounds like it would have sent a list of banned words to the browser as part of the page, before the user searches. Then when the user starts typing, the browser will NOT send anything to Google with a banned word in it until the user addresses the warning displayed. Your idea, if adjusted properly to not send traffic to Google with banned words in it, would end up being only a minor variation of this.

      • And then China blocks Google from sending the banned word lists to you. And then Google works around it and gets banned totally! No, they'll play nice to keep their market.
    • by kllrnohj (2626947)

      The problem is when you search for a "banned" word you basically get kicked off the internet for a short period of time (and usually not just you, but your whole apartment or whatever). So your search for "tuna" would simply never return, it's too late at that point.

      Thus Google added the prediction thing because it looks to users like Google kept going down when in reality it was the Great Firewall. But China fought back, and if it was still ineffective as a result it makes sense to abandon it.

  • Google will be quietly allowed back into China. The timing of this news will coincide with some other big event, such as a new iPad release.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:48PM (#42507715)

    ...they do so to support a f*cking mega corporation that would sh*ts on them at a moments notice, for chance of extracting a few extra dollars from the customers. Google withdrew *alone* from China in a response to "evil"...What did they do when "Human Rights Watch praised the decision and urged other firms to follow suit in challenging censorship...on yeah right I remember *nothing*...Lets call them Microsoft who at the time by the "the Congressional-Executive Commission on China ...sharply criticized Microsoft for continuing to be complicit with China's censorship laws"...what about Apple??. Acting Alone Googles strategy was weak/stupid.

    • What did they do when

      Who is they? the same people both times?

      what about

      We already knew they were evil. Google claimed not to be. They lied.

    • by gwgwgw (415150)

      Take your time posting. I am reading this post and cannot follow. Maybe "the choir" catches all that you are saying, but I'll bet its nearly all lost on the rest of us.

  • Look, if the Chinese people are not going to fight for human rights and removal of censorship then why should some American company do so?

    I think everyone outside of China believe they need to fight for Chinese rights but obviously the Chinese living in China are largely accepting of the state of their rights, those that don't go to another country.

    I can't believe that in a country with over 1 billion people the government would be able to suppress a revolution if the population demanded better human rights

  • Of all the FOB Chinese I talk to, very few even care about this issue. Mostly they're not even aware of it, and if they are, they don't see it as anything worth worrying about. From a Western individualist point of view, it's sad to see people who don't care about oppression, so long as it's done in the name of unity. But then, that's us and that's them. Maybe they have a point in going for national unity and peace over individual rights. What do I know.
    • Its fine to let them be and not force our western individualism on them until it starts bleeding across borders and affecting us, which it really is starting to do. I don't think this is giong to stop with China, the sings of the times are there for those that care.

  • ...but that doesn't mean you can't passively advocate it.

  • ...Former governor Richardson, Google's Schmidt arrive in North Korea
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/07/us-korea-north-richardson-idUSBRE90600A20130107 [reuters.com]

    I suspect a correlation between Google's move in China and Schmidt's "private, humanitarian" visit to NK. Methinks the almighty dollar may be taking precedence over principle.

  • Regardless on which side of the censorship debate you are,

      it's one thing to censor results but to inform you that it has happened but it's another to silently remove results. It's so irritating to spend hours searching for something only later to relise that it's been censored.

      Isn't there any decency to people these days? If a thread or reply on a forum gets deleted isn't it only fair to inform other people that it has happened?

  • I have no idea which one, but somekind of agreement must have been reached. I'm sure that Google ceeded something and the Chinese also. We shall see. Something to do with the change of leadership in China?

    Google's trip North Korea may have some relation tho this.

    We shall see...
  • yes, it sounds like giving up.

    i am disappoint?

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