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Censorship Google Your Rights Online

China Emphasizes Laws As Google Defies Censorship 320

Lomegor writes "Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Thursday that all companies are welcome to operate in China but that they must do so under local laws. Although not explicitly, this is in some way a response to Google's threat to leave the country. China also stated that they have strict cyber laws and that they forbid any kind of 'hacking attack'; when asked if those laws apply to the government as well it was quickly avoided. 'It is still hard to say whether Google will quit China or not. Nobody knows,' the official in the State Council Information Office was quoted as saying." I sure would love to be a fly on the wall of these discussions. We certainly live in interesting times.
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China Emphasizes Laws As Google Defies Censorship

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 14, 2010 @09:49AM (#30763312)

    At this point, does Google even have a real choice in the matter? If they don't out and out leave China very soon, then they will forever be perceived as weak. The Chinese will consider them to be feeble pushovers. Not only that, but in the Western world they'll also be seen as weak, for caving in on the issue of censorship.

  • Hypocrits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thijsh ( 910751 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @09:49AM (#30763318) Journal
    China to Google: "Listen to us and obey our laws, even though they do not apply to us and we will abuse this power against your company and your users."

    Even worse is that Google probably fears their technology will fall in the hands of the Chinese who will just build an alternative google *exacly* as they like it, and not like before with 'cooperation' from google. This way China wins and Google is left without a market in China at all, leaving with a damaged reputation for 'helping' the Chinese oppression and gaining nothing in the end... Pulling out is the wise thing to do, but not on their own. They have only said 'until here and no further', if Google moves out of China it will be because China makes them, and then Google is the hero of the story and China will be the party losing face.
  • Yes we have laws! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Drethon ( 1445051 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @09:50AM (#30763326)
    And you will stop trying to apply them to us because we wrote them!
  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:02AM (#30763428) Homepage Journal
    The rest of the world must follow our rules. But we could not.
  • by tokul ( 682258 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:02AM (#30763434)

    There are other search engines. Google, otoh, loses a huge market.

    They will lose only if Chinese Firewall starts blocking them. You can't lose part of Internet market by moving outside of country.

  • steep price (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BBird ( 664014 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:05AM (#30763450)

    we will all pay a steep price for our hypocrisy contempt and cowardice towards China human rights abuse, censorship, lies and manipulation

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:17AM (#30763552) Journal

    Exactly. They do in USA too, just look at the "x number of results were removed because of DMCA laws". It's basically the same thing, just different area. It's something US government see important, just like Chinese government see important the areas they're censoring. You can argue that "it's not the same thing", but really, it is. Different culture, different people. Remember that Chinese probably think some of your laws and censorship is weird and hilarious.

    What do you think US courts would say if a company would come to operate in US but wouldn't work under US laws because they think differently on the issues? Exactly the same.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:22AM (#30763608)

    But if China's going to go around breaking other nations' laws, whining about it happening to them just makes them look stupid, opportunistic, and greedy (which, again, worked out for the Americans /rimshot). If they want people to take their laws seriously, they'll have to do what the States did, and actually start getting along with the other nations with mutual agreements and enforcement. I don't think they will.

    No, they'll just wait till they're losing more to lack of IP enforcement than they gain, then they'll start complaining.

  • Re:Two predictions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Beale ( 676138 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:23AM (#30763626)
    Remember that their customers are not the people who search but rather, the people who advertise to the people who search. If the Chinese advert market isn't making them money, they probably don't care so much about the people searching there.
  • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:23AM (#30763638)

    Moral relativism needs to be shot to hell.

    Comparing the DMCA to political censorship and torture is ridiculous.

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:33AM (#30763752) Journal

    Did you even read what I said?

    Different cultures and people have different values. Just because you think something is more moral doesn't mean everyone does so. Your mentality and thinking mostly comes from the culture you grow in. So does theirs. Yes, they protest. So do people in the US - just see all the battle about patents, MPAA/RIAA and other issues here on slashdot.

    Now I do not either think it's the same thing. But trying to force the same kind of thinking you have to other people, especially to people in other cultures, just sickens me. And US is particularly known for forcing their laws to other places in the world, even forcefully.

  • The GP accuses you of commiting a fallacy of scale, and I must say I agree.

    Sure you can logically draw comparisons between the DMCA and chinese censorship laws, it's not particularly hard or imaginative. The problem is when you compare the two on equal grounds. One involves gross violations of basic human rights, the other involves less Brittany Spears remixes on youtube.

    Don't get me wrong, I have strong moral issues with the US patent and copyright laws. But I have far greater issues with human rights violations, regardless of who commits them. Not all atrocities are created equal.

    But trying to force the same kind of thinking you have to other people, especially to people in other cultures, just sickens me.

    Call me crazy, but I don't excuse the things the Chinese government does just because they convinced their population that they should. If thinking that basic human rights are universal makes me an imperialistic American dog, then I am a proud imperialistic American dog.

  • Re:Two predictions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:00AM (#30764114)
    Because most of those people are relatively poor (compared to their Western counterparts, anyway) and because even a healthy revenue isn't worth subjecting yourself to someone stealing all of your company's proprietary secrets (which could cost Google a LOT more in the long-term than they are making with ad revenue in China).
  • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:11AM (#30764300)

    Look, I've taken enough classes in philosophy to understand moral relativism. I read what you said, and I disagree. People in the US argue and complain because quite frankly the government and corporations in the US are judged to impossibly high standards. Westerners tend to be idealists and when something doesn't approach their ideals, they complain, loudly over the internet.

    However, Humans Rights are a Universal Truth, they come from our human nature, our instincts and the way our brains are wired, and China is a country that is committing gross violations towards it's own Citizens. What should really sicken you is the communist parties destruction of their own ancient culture and peoples.
    I should add, if you're feeling sick, you should visit the doctor.

  • It is not "that they are censoring", it is "what they are censoring" that gets human rights violations involved.

    If google censored websites about Gitmo for the US government, I would be equally inflamed.

  • by Zarel ( 900479 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:29AM (#30764680)

    The GP accuses you of commiting a fallacy of scale, and I must say I agree.

    Sure you can logically draw comparisons between the DMCA and chinese censorship laws, it's not particularly hard or imaginative. The problem is when you compare the two on equal grounds. One involves gross violations of basic human rights, the other involves less Brittany Spears remixes on youtube.

    I'd argue that freedom of speech counts as a basic human right.

    Regardless, the DMCA has been used to censor material critical of the Church of Scientology from appearing on Google search results. Is that political speech, to you? Google also censors Nazi-related materials in Germany. Is that political speech, to you? Sure, perhaps the US doesn't jail political dissidents quite the same way China does, but what's Guantanamo Bay? Sure, there's a difference in scale, but the difference isn't as great as many people think.

    The original point is that Google is demanding uncensored search results in China, but not in the US or Germany. There's no fallacy of scale here, unless you wish to argue that the US is more deserving of censorship since they commit fewer human rights violations?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:31AM (#30764724)

    The Chinese constitution has allowed free speech since 1982

    Natural human rights cannot be granted or "allowed" by government, because the concept of human rights precedes government. The concept of human rights is a product of human nature, not organized coercion. Government can only take away what we already have by the law of human nature (or god, if you prefer).

    If government disappears, the concept of natural human rights would not disappear along with it.

    The idea that government "allows" natural human rights implies that government -- which is comprised of nothing but human beings -- physically owns other human beings and therefore has the right to pick and choose which of their rights to respect. In other words, the rights of some human beings take precedence over the rights of others.

  • I get furious with the DMCA, especially when it is abused for censorship purposes. I also have some very serious issues with the US government and what it is/has been doing. I have two short points to make though:

    1) Actions taken by the US government do not excuse actions taken by the Chinese government.
    2) You either have an incredibly warped sense of scale, or you are not very familar with the Chinese censorship program.

  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:41AM (#30764890)

    I'm not sure why he's been tagged a troll. What he says is true. People in the West have the benefit of living comfortable, carefree lives where they have the luxury of worrying about relatively insignificant problems. It's really not surprising people blow things out of proportion.

    Things like DMCA are, without question, garbage. We should indeed fight to end this sort of thing. But stop trying to make it out to seem some kind of moral crusade where something profoundly crucial to our existence is somehow at stake. No one's going to die if they can't enjoy the current popular tv show, the latest Hollywood blockbusters or music from untalented, overrated pop stars.

    Frankly, from my experience I don't think most Chinese are concerned about political censorship or torture and in fact seem to believe it's a good thing to maintain social order. But the fact remains that people from many parts of the world would laugh at us and the pathetic things we get worked up about.

  • Re:Rigged Game? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:42AM (#30764926)

    I am pretty sure there *are* laws in China. The thing is, your company should have read carefully such laws *before* starting doing business in such a country.

    What would be the point? Those laws are selectively enforced by government. My belief is that currently the size of the bribe far more than the wording of the law determines how legal your efforts are. I doubt there are many companies that don't understand this aspect of the legal environment in China.

  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:51AM (#30765104)

    They do in USA too


    Others have pointed out you're comparing apples to apple seeds here, but there is a larger point to be made, the Cold War equivalent of Godwin's Law: Anyone who responds to a criticism of any country with a rant about how bad the United States is has immediately lost the argument because they have failed to address any of the criticisms, but instead introduced a lot of emotionally-charged irrelevancy based on the false assumption that the original critic is somehow an admirer or defender of the United States.

    It didn't make any sense during the Cold War (for us non-Americans, especially!) and it makes even less sense now. The American Empire is broadly speaking evil. Everything thinking person agrees with this. To impute the belief that the American Empire is basically good too someone who points out how utterly vile the Chinese government is, and then to try to turn the discussion to the completely irrelevant area of American crimes, is simply the act of someone who knows how evil the Chinese government is, who knows they do not have a single fact to defend the Chinese government with, and who wants to distract everyone by bringing up how evil the American Empire is.

    So let's call it "Godwin's Second Law" that anyone pulling this particular lame stunt automatically loses, and move on to the actual subject of discussion in this thread, which is how outrageous it is for the Chinese government to pretend that the rule of law is the least bit important.

  • Re:Rigged Game? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:59AM (#30765282)

    I had someone tell me once that when in China basically everything is illegal, and the laws constantly contradict on another. The question is that law actually going to be enforced.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:03PM (#30765358)

    Saying they leave market makes them look weak and stock price would drop.

    Funny, that's exactly what all the state-run chinese newspapers are saying.

    And the reason I don't buy it is that plenty of internet companies have dropped various services in various countries and they never needed a scapegoat - American business doesn't give a shit about "saving face" like that.

    In fact, one of the most positive things a US business can say is, "this market has proven to be unprofitable so we are cutting our losses by exiting it" - that tends to cause the stock price to go UP because investors expect that the company will no longer be losing money in an unprofitable venture. In the west, there is no shame associated with stopping the loss of more money.

    So, while a story about needing to save face may play well with people who have spent all their lives in a culture that values face as much as they do in China, it is just an example of how "the east" has its own share of problems with understanding the way "the west" works.

  • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:36PM (#30765944)

    Comparing jailing political dissidents to Guantanamo Bay is comparing apples and oranges. China jails internal dissidents, Gitmo is for enemy combatants who are necessarily foreign to the U.S. There are no American citizens in Gitmo, their lawyers would have a field day.

    And equating DMCA with political censorship is plain silly. Sure, some lawyers may try to pervert DMCA, but that isn't the law's intent.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:48PM (#30766148) Journal
    What....where are you getting this info? All the estimates I've seen suggest Google is making hundreds of millions in revenue from China, and their expenses can't be THAT much. Why do you think they aren't making money? As far as I can tell they are quite profitable.
  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:58PM (#30766344) Homepage Journal

    Go back and read about the lead up to WWI and you'll get a sense of the mind set of many of the people in China, if not the majority. War (with Taiwan) would be glorious, an Empire is a right of China's and to some Everything (worldwide) is part of China and maps should show that.

    You know I think that is the part of the Chinese mindset that worries me the most. I actually understand the talk about wanting peace and tranquility and valuing that over freedom. I am not saying I agree with said values, but I can understand them. However, as you mentioned, the current mindset that Chinese nationalists have has been seen in the world before, about 100 years ago in fact. Hopefully most of us remember what a glorious cluster fuck that turned out to be for the world. Everyone had their shiny new guns and thought they were the biggest and baddest on the block...millions died. The world was left in shambles...It's funny, I remember hearing a friend of mine in high school argue about how the world had grown out of that phase....

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:59PM (#30766374)
    There is no effort being made to censor the information based on the DMCA. The act it designed to prevent people from using copyrighted works without paying for them, and that is exactly how it is used. The works are still publicly available, you just have to pay for them. I'm not saying that it's the right thing to do, but it's not the same thing at all.
  • Fuck China (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 14, 2010 @01:17PM (#30766686)

    They try to poison our pets and then ourselves with tainted foodstuffs, they sell us building materials made with toxic substances that fall apart and make people sick, they make toys for our children with cadmium and lead other toxic heavy metals in them. Lately I hear about a Chinese auto manufacturer that wants to sell here in the U.S.; I can only assume the damned things will explode, or be radioactive, or have some aspect to them that will eventually kill or sicken the driver and other occupants. They continually hack our government and corporate servers, and all the while they talk shit about us and try to push their agenda. Granted in some ways the U.S. isn't much better but what the fuck? Google should close down their offices in Beijing and leave China, and China should be cut off from the rest of the Internet, permanently. I can't see why they would complain anyway, their government is so fucking isolationist, they should appreciate being left alone. Pull out of China, stop doing business with them, and cut them off. We don't fucking need them and their poisons, or their poisonous attitudes.

  • by oGMo ( 379 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @01:29PM (#30766896)

    Anyone who responds to a criticism of any country with a rant about how bad the United States is has immediately lost the argument

    One sentence later:

    The American Empire is broadly speaking evil. Everything thinking person agrees with this.

    Assuming you are equating "the United States" with this "American Empire" then you have dismissed your own argument; if not, then you merely have a straw man, which is irrelevant. While the following statement is simply an ad hominem attack on anyone who disagrees with you, I thought I'd include it for the irony. Perhaps you should think this through more.

    (And on the original topic, I hardly defend China's position on human rights and freedom and censorship issues. But then I'm an "evil" American of the US variety, and many of us tend to take issue with these sorts of things.)

  • ... Humans Rights are a Universal Truth, they come from our human nature, our instincts and the way our brains are wired, and China is a country that is committing gross violations towards it's own Citizens

    Go back to those philosophy classes/books, you forgot the bit about evidence and questioning your assumptions. Human rights are not a universal truth, "2+2=4" is a universal truth, beyond that we really don't have any. If human rights were a universal truth, their formulation would be invariant through time, and I could pull out a datum of evidence and wave it in the face of those who disagree.

    No, human rights are a social/political formulation at worst, and a bit of prescriptive system building at best.

    Our brains are wired to be largely amoral opportunists, we generally only give any empathetic consideration to those in our immediate family or social circle. We evolved this way, we don't give a shit about the species or the larger society, we only really care (innately) for those things that help our reproduction and the health of our offspring. I don't see the chance for a "censorship is bad" characteristic to evolve into our species.

    I have never seen a wholly convincing descriptive (innate and universally existant) moral/ethical system, but I have seen a ton of prescriptive systems (thou ought). Prescriptive statements from "hard" philosophy (being that it isn't in the realm of any other science, barring the ineptly named "political science") generally have the same intellectual rigor as those found in classic books such as the Bible (no, coming from me that isn't a compliment).

    I agree with you, though, that china over steps their bounds. But until I see a measurement of a universal human right, I will generally pass over all talk of "rights". I read somewhere that rights are those thing which you can convince others you have, and this seems about as apt a description I can find.

  • Re:Two predictions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @02:49PM (#30768442)

    July 20th, 2011: ABB Robotics Bankrupted by low cost Chinese Competitor BAA Lobotics.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @10:10PM (#30774318) Journal

    Enemy combatants who don't wear a uniform or other identifying marks are terrorists.

    As such, pretending that they deserve the due process of the law is laughable.

    For starters, it's wrong. Enemy combatants who don't wear a uniform are not protected by Geneva conventions, yes, but that doesn't make them terrorists. Terrorism is when you deliberately attack civilian population, to induce terror and garner publicity for your cause. Whether one is a "legal" or "illegal" combatant, uniformed or not, is entirely irrelevant. For example, there were numerous acts of terror perpetrated by uniformed soldiers of the legitimate army of Iraq under Saddam. There were quite a few cases perpetrated by uniformed soldiers of the U.S. Army in Vietnam. And so on.

    Furthermore, without due process of law, you do not know if those people are really enemy combatants not wearing a uniform, or it's a lie (or deliberate omission of facts) by people who captured them. What you're saying is not at all different from saying, "people who kill someone are murderers, and pretending that they deserve the due process of law is laughable".

    Assuming you're an American, please go find a copy of the constitution of your country, and re-read it, paying attention. It really is a wonderful document; I only wish more Americans would actually know what it says (all of it, not just areas they believe to be more important, and not skipping the areas they find inconvenient).

    As a side note, what's wrong with giving any criminal, no matter how detestable, due process of law? If they're guilty, they will be sentenced as such, and last I checked, U.S. still has death penalty on Federal level (and I'd presume such people would come under Federal jurisdiction). So what's your problem? You're afraid that there is insufficient evidence, and they might be found innocent? Well then, perhaps, they shouldn't have been detained in the first place?

The time spent on any item of the agenda [of a finance committee] will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved. -- C.N. Parkinson