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Google Businesses The Internet Censorship

Google Agrees to Censor Results in China 862

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the caving-under-pressure dept.
neutralino writes "The Associated Press is reporting that Google has agreed to censor results in China. According to the article, 'Google officials characterized the censorship concessions in China as an excruciating decision for a company that adopted "don't be evil" as a motto. But management believes it's a worthwhile sacrifice.'"
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Google Agrees to Censor Results in China

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  • Bold Statement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kickboy12 (913888) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:20AM (#14554753) Homepage
    What people need to realize is that Google doesn't really have a choice in the matter. I don't believe this violates the "Don't be evil" motto, as Google is simply trying to follow Chinese law. I don't think Google should be scrutinized for this, considering every other company (Microsoft, Yahoo, etc) has been forced to do the same thing. What people should be scrutinizing is Chinese law, not companies that follow said laws. Of course, the entire political situation in China is horrible and always has been.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:23AM (#14554764)
    Management decided.

    You mean the suits decided.

    I think the next year will see whether Google is true to the original DNA of the company, or whether they will become the next Microsoft, with all that implies.
  • Do no evil . . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:23AM (#14554765)
    . . . unless it makes money.
  • by lamasquerade (172547) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:24AM (#14554766)
    (I'm going to use the Google terminology of 'Evil' here, even though I find the word hyperbolic and ill-defined in general usage)

    an excruciating decision for a company that adopted "don't be evil" as a motto. But management believes it's a worthwhile sacrifice.

    That statement is bullshit. The 'worthwhile sacrifice' mentioned is clearly meant to work against the clear contravention of the 'do no evil' motto. However what is being sacrificed? The ethics of Google. What is being gained by the sacrifice? Access to China == profit. So they're sacrificing ethics for profit - that isn't exactly original for a corporation.

    More from the article: "We firmly believe, with our culture of innovation, Google can make meaningful and positive contributions to the already impressive pace of development in China," said Andrew McLaughlin, Google's senior policy counsel.

    Again, bullshit. Google is an informaiton company. Their entire existence is justified by making access to and use of information easier. If they censor that information based on the petty politics of nationalists (or any other political concern) then they are not serving their purpose. They are in fact reinforcing the policies of censorship and repression in China. If everyone, every company goes along with these policies then what motivation is there to change them?

    Here's a real sacrifice: lose profits from lack of presence in China and be ethical and further the cause of free speech. That's a sacrifice, something you'd like, for something better. Not the other way around. Really the way these PR droids use language makes me want to have them lobotomised... and PR school doesn't count.

  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aardwolf64 (160070) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:25AM (#14554772) Homepage
    Let me see if I get this right... It's a Bad Thing (tm) when Microsoft does it, but Google should get away with it, because everyone else is?
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:27AM (#14554782)
    Yes, they do have a choice. Rather than assist the PRC in violating human rights, they could decline to do business in China. There's all the talk here about how they faced down Bellsouth--don't you think they maybe have a little market power in China, too? Well, not now--they caved to the almighty yuan. I'm sure the dead Christians and the Tianmen Square students crushed under the treads of the people's tanks are thankful censored Google is available thanks to the sweetheart deal with the Chinese Communists.
  • price. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:30AM (#14554805)
    This merely underlines that everyone has a price.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:31AM (#14554809) Homepage Journal
    Why would China ever change their ways if the big rich American corporations keep bending over backwards to accomodate their oppression?

    When a country sponsors terrorism, we boycott them. When a country massacres certain races in their country, we try to stop them. Why, when a country rules by oppression, fear, and many other completely un-Democratic ideals should we make an exception?

    Money talks, my friend. Google's got dollar signs in their eyes just like MS and Yahoo, and China's gonna be a huge market in the coming years. The oppressive communist chinese government is going to get rich off its economic boom, and peasants will still have to wear adult diapers [yahoo.com] on their 24-hour cattle-packed bathroom-less train rides home for the holidays.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WankersRevenge (452399) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:31AM (#14554812)
    Of course they have a choice. The people who don't have a choice currently live in China. And remember, laws aren't changed by being complicit with them. Ask any one in the civil rights movement.
  • by Kickboy12 (913888) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:32AM (#14554820) Homepage
    Laughable.

    For starters, China isn't a communist state. It hasn't been in over 30 years. It's a Capitalist Dictatorship (aka Facism).

    And... how exactly is Google dead? I fail to see any resonable cause for such a statement.
  • by dangitman (862676) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:32AM (#14554823)
    Did China convince Google executives that they had huge penises, and that the Chinese weren't a threat because they have small penis?

    I am sick and tired of the West sucking up to China. It seems China gets the best end of the bargain - they get the benefits of capitalism and trade with the west - but they get a free pass on democracy, and the West even helps them with their dictatorship and censorship needs.

    So, I guess totalitarianism is bad, as long as a small, weak country is doing it. But "China very big" so, we have to do what China says.

    Motherfuckers. Screw Google and all the other apologists.

  • by oquigley (572410) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:33AM (#14554829)
    While I understand that Google's just a business, this seems to mark a fall from grace. It's kind of a pity. I respected them for their moral positions, not just for their products & services.

    It also calls into question their motivations for resisting the Bush administrations requests. (reminds me of the old joke: Man asks a woman to have sex with him, she says forget it. He says "how about for a hundred thousand dollars". She consents, so he says "how about for ten dollars". She says "what kind of a girl do you think I am?". He replies "We've already established that, now we're just negotiating about price".

    O.
  • by HydroPhonic (524513) <theycallmeboss@g ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:34AM (#14554843) Homepage
    Google had the decision to either:

    - Be present in China, albeit in mutilated form. The censorship would be declared, not secret. As such, Google's chinese services would not claim to comprehensively represent Google's services. - Not operate in China at all.

    China doesn't need Google very much; they already have Yahoo, MSN, et al. As such, Google declining to operate in China would do almost nothing to further the cause of free speech because it would not damage the opponents of free speech in the slightest.

    Because Google lacks the potential to "further" the cause of free speech in this altercation, their failure to advance that cause in China is not sufficient to warrant the claim of evilness.
  • by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:34AM (#14554844)
    And you can bet your ass they'll do it to those of us in so-called "free" countries so long as the money's right. "Don't be evil" indeed.
  • by DeadPrez (129998) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:35AM (#14554848) Homepage
    Same _exact_ reasoning will apply to handing over search queries and associated user data to the US government.

    New motto:
    Do no evil unless governments compel you to if you want to stay in the market.
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@amiran . u s> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:35AM (#14554853) Homepage Journal
    Meh, at this point, its not clear who has correctly defined communism.

    The academic community, who coined it....

    Or the political leaders who use it to describe themselves on a regular basis....

    The definitions are radically different. *shrug*
  • by KagatoLNX (141673) <kagatoNO@SPAMsouja.net> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:35AM (#14554854) Homepage
    That's the problem with being publicly traded...

    Sacrificing the profits of China on principle has to be backed by the majority of the shareholders. Additionally, they don't want to enrich Microsoft and don't want their stock price to tank.

    Of course, they have quite a few PHDs to feed.

    In terms of net evil, of the options available, this is the least evil option. To remove themselves entirely from the Chinese market (the Great Firewall is effective and Google would likely not do well working around it) would be no better.

    Make no mistake. Leaving the Chinese people high and dry would not be more effective or less evil. Especially when substituting a willing Microsoft or Yahoo. Ignoring a bad situation is evil. Making the best of it isn't.

    Google may cooperate with the Chinese government. However, they won't be able to "purify" the search engine completely. There will be holes in the cache as well. They have so much data that there is no solution to solving this problem. Does making "imperfect" censorship available to the Chinese people sound worse than making a "perfect" set of firewall rules?

    As for "reinforcing the censorship policies of petty nationalists"...how does removing yourself from the picture help? What should they do? Develop a crypto query network? Distributed it via clandestine means? Help me here.

    Either using Google's "censored" content and tools will send countless Chinese to jail, or they will be able to continue to provide what they do now. In China, right now, Google is a wealth of information with everything you need nestled in the nooks and crannies. While it will be censored within the limitations of the Chinese government and technical possibility, it can still serve some purpose in spreading censored information.

    Maybe all this means is that the honchos at Google have some humility. Perhaps they realize that this is the best they can do for the Chinese people. Perhaps they have coupled "Do no evil!" with "Do what you can."?
  • by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:36AM (#14554864)
    That's not really a fair comparison, as Google's execs don't have to shell out for bullets for their relatives' executions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:44AM (#14554916)
    Bravo to Google for going against the conventional wisdom. Don't you think that the Chinese people are going to see how much information there is out on the net, and how important it is, and then get seriously PO'd that a few topics are off-limits? I can think of no better way to stimulate someone's interest in something than to try to prevent access to it.

    Eventually the Chinese officials will become less vigilant and information will start to flow through. This will happen sooner the more search engines there are for the authorities to keep an eye on. A search engine company that has revenue sources outside China will be in a better position to push the envelope.

    People's search behavior will be very interesting to the authorities. If I were Chinese I would be a little more inclined to use a foreign search engine that would be less likely to hand over that information to the government. Google's recent action in the US along those lines sends the exactly right message.

    Again, bravo to Google.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BewireNomali (618969) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:51AM (#14554951)
    dude, there is a gun pointed at Google's head. Shareholders, dude. There'e no way Google isn't all over the yuan. And they will go away if Google isn't in China. Selfsame shareholders are bankrolling Google's expanding operations. They HAVE to be in China and nail it down from the ground floor. First mover's advantage and all.

    I'd trip over myself to do business in China. Are you kidding me? Also, you lamers don't realize that Google in China would do more to erode the government's power than not? It's better for the young Chinese that Google be there, censorship or no. In fact, I'd be surprised if Google didn't code in easy hacks around the censorship criteria, and play dumb when the Chinese object. It'll take months/years for the old guard to catch on, and it'll endear Google amongst the young revolution-minded Chinese... university students, et al. Mindshare, cultural affinity, etc...

    This holier than thou stance smacks of arrogance, frankly. There's something smart. A group doesn't do what you want it to, so you stop speaking to them until they do, right? lol. It's worked with Cuba, right?

    I'm trying to teach myself Mandarin now. Are you kidding me? China is like the gold rush all over again. But then again, you'd know that, Wyatt.
  • by neoshroom (324937) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:53AM (#14554960)
    As the article goes on to state, when an item is censored Google will tell you it has censored the searched item to comply with local laws. This sort of censorship where you know something is being kept from you is much less scary than the type where you simply don't know what is being kept from you. Simply providing their search engine to China in censored form, and admitting to users they are being censored isn't evil. What is evil is the Chinese governments restrictions on free speech, but Google can only choose to provide a censored search engine or not provide one at all.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:59AM (#14554989) Homepage Journal
    If you want to spread democracy, is it better to simply not to business in anti-democratic countries or to do business on their terms?

    That is a question that every pro-democracy person, company, and government has to make when it comes to anti-democratic countries like China.

    The answer, as with much of life, varies with the individual circumstances.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nathanh (1214) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:00AM (#14554997) Homepage
    I am ashamed of Google and any other American entity that encourages China's oppressive style of government.

    Giggle. Right on, brother. We only approve of America's oppressive style of government!

    Take the beam out of your eye. Nationalism is for chumps.

  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by servognome (738846) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:01AM (#14555003)
    When a country sponsors terrorism, we boycott them

    Like Saudi Arabia?

    When a country massacres certain races in their country, we try to stop them.

    Like Iraq in the 80's?

    Why, when a country rules by oppression, fear, and many other completely un-Democratic ideals should we make an exception?

    Like Chile?

    The US doesn't care about other countries, it cares about protecting its interests.
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:02AM (#14555009)
    Google now censors it's search results for things that the Chinese government doesn't want it's people to read, just as it has been doing the same thing to comply with laws in France and Germany.

    Here is some more information:
    http://blog.outer-court.com/archive/2005-01-15-n50 .html [outer-court.com]
    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050117-0906 38 [searchenginewatch.com]
    http://sethf.com/anticensorware/general/google-cen sorship.php [sethf.com]

    So the question is, why are people so offended when Google censors for China, but think the same behavior is fine for Europe?
  • by tommers (893816) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:02AM (#14555012)
    I have to disagree with the people who are arguing that Yahoo's and MSN's presences in China make this a non-issue for Google. By censoring results they are relieving a great deal of pressure from Yahoo and MSN by reinforcing the "not so evil" nature of being beholdent to the Chinese governments request. While I recognize that few people here would have the balls to put their multibillion dollar corporation on the line for this, its an unethical decision either way.

    Imagine if they had decided to allow the Chinese government to block their search servers. There would be big headlines tomorrow about how Google took the ethical approach while leaving MSN and Yahoo to compromise their ethics for making money. It would be great P.R. for Google and bad P.R. for MSN and Yahoo. Even if it wouldn't directly change the Chinese government's policy, it would put more pressure on MSN, Yahoo, and any other company put in a position to compromise their ethics to make money in China.
  • Evil or Not? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SirBruce (679714) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:03AM (#14555019) Homepage
    The question is whether or not doing business with such a government and censoring is, in fact, "evil". I would argue it's not... in the sense that it's not immoral. It may be somewhat unethical, but since they are informing users of the censorship, at least that's somewhat absolving of Google. I don't fault Google for this decision; it's just good business, and potentially good public policy, if it helps the society advance in the long run.

    Is any form of government censorship automatically "evil"? It's easy enough for us to denounce China's censorship as being "too much", but although some of us here also object to, say, Germany's anti-Nazi censorship laws, I don't think anyone would claim that was really "evil"; at least, not in the same category. Misguided, perhaps, but evil?

    It's ironic that many of the posters here are of a Liberal stripe who think certain things like censorship and capital punishment are absolutely wrong. So Google shouldn't do business with China because China is "evil"? And yet it's the Liberal politicians these people support who have urged engagement with countries like China, Cub, etc., not judging the morals of other countries but rather doing business with them in any way possible, making whatever concessions necessary, to avoid confrontration and to work for change slowly from within. Meanwhile, they ridicule Conservative politicians who use such "simplistic" terms as "evil" when it comes to radical islamic terrorists.

    The bottom line is, even if what China is doing is evil, it doesn't make Google's complicity evil, and you can't go to war over every dispute over morality. At this stage, slow cooperation with China seems to be the better course of action; we've been doing it for 30 years now and there has been substantial change. We revisited the debate 15 years ago and decided to continue engagement and we've gotten further results. The day may come when we draw the line and tell China it's time to shape up, but that day is not today. We don't have the resources for such a conflict.

    Bruce
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:08AM (#14555040) Homepage Journal
    Yes, as it always has been. :)
  • Re:Worthwhile?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:09AM (#14555051)
    Google has been censoring it's results in France and Germany for some time now, in order to comply with French and German laws. Do you think that Google should also choose to stop doing buisness with France and Germany too? Is google being evil by complying with France and Germany's censorship laws?
  • Less hysterically (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:12AM (#14555069) Homepage Journal
    I think you have to look at it pragmatically. If Google don't do what the Chinese Government asks then the whole of Google will be blocked/filtered so what Google is doing doesn't have an "evil" effect that wouldn't be happening anyway.

    Liberalisation of China is probably going to be something that happens in a creeping fashion. A position based entirely on principal (ie Google refusing outright) might actually be worse in practice because it would actually mean more isolation for the Chinese people, not less. Whatever blocks are placed it isn't going to be 100% effective.

    If Google put's up a "Some results have been omited due to local legal requirements" message like they do with some other blocks all the better, at least the people will know they are being filtered and why.
  • by 777film (946633) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:13AM (#14555076)
    Has Google ever claimed to represent freedom of speech, or that they are the be-all, end-all resource for true and factual information?

    Goodies like mail and maps aside, all they really are is a business that facilitate indexing the web. They aren't "good" and they aren't "evil", they're a corporation that performs a service for profit. They didn't turn over the search records to the DoJ because that would be suicide in the freedom (and soft-core porn) loving American market-- no one would use Google if they thought their queries were being tracked by some mysterious government agency.

    On the other hand, they will not be allowed to operate in China at all unless they comply with the government... So they do.

    I don't know where this comes from, the idea that Google should be making a stand for free speech in a foreign country. If such a stand doesn't come from the populace themselves, it isn't going to happen (and it just might, as even with filters in place they will have more access than ever to the rest of the world.)

  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neverhadachoice (949216) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:14AM (#14555084)
    Haha, the chinese are used to this kind of treatment, that's great.

    That's about the equivalent of saying that we don't need to get rid of sweatshop labour exploitation in poor countries, because the kids are used to it. Yeah, people will just use something else if Google doesn't agree to their terms, whatever. If 99% of Google's users don't give two shits about this sort of thing, then nothing is ever going to change there.

    But I guess because you're happy and comfortable somewhere else with the freedom to write shit, it doesn't matter, right?

    "Don't be evil." is a pretty clear message. Helping the Chinese government supress free thought and freedom sounds pretty evil to me, and given that I'm not evil, I don't think it's a great move. But hey, who cares if there's money in it, right?
  • by mboverload (657893) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:14AM (#14555087) Journal
    What if this were Microsoft?

    Would you be so willing to understand?
  • How is this evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UserGoogol (623581) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:15AM (#14555089)
    I fail to see how this is evil. Google had two options. They could either censor some of their results, or China would censor all of their results. If censoring is bad, logically more censoring is worse than less censoring. Google thus is not doing evil, they are making the best of an inherently evil situation. If this is evil, then "doing no evil" is impossible, because no matter what they did, evil would have been done.

    Some might argue that Google could have simply held their ground and China would have eventually caved. I doubt this. There are plenty of search engines out there, and although they might not be quite as good as Google, they're not bad or anything. If popular demand for Google is big enough to make China give up their censoring, then China's censorship laws can't be that strict if something as trivial as Google versus Yahoo is willing to make them cave.
  • Not Just China (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 246o1 (914193) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:15AM (#14555093)
    Totalitarianism is ok in:
    a) any country with a useful resource and a friendly-to-us government (see: Saudi Arabia)
    b) any country that would be kind of a pain to invade with no clear benefit (see: most totalitarian countries)
    c) any country that would be a total bitch to invade (see: N. Korea) despite possible security benefits for us and our allies/helpers.

    I am speaking of US policy hear, but generally, governments in the west follow these policies. I hate that people think that China gets a blind eye. The human rights and legal situations in China are probably the most talked about and scrutinized in the west of any non-democratic country (besides Iraq). But what the hell do you expect countries to do?

    There's a goodly amount of international pressure on China as-is, and while I wouldn't be against ramping that up, I think an invasion there would be pretty much 130% Grade-A insane.

    While this has been a bit off-topic, it does apply. Google has to deal with the country the way it is (as our national governments do), and the other choice is to let some other non-blocked IP become China's Google. The real test of their principles will be whether they use their market share there, once gained, to try to stand up for greater freedom of information. 'Standing up' to the government on this issue now would provide nothing besides a little bit of good PR here in the west, no substantive gain for the Chinese people.
  • by cosminn (889926) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:16AM (#14555094) Homepage
    have no problem with selling China cars or airplanes or other stuff like that. But to actively collaborate with the regime in stifling dissent is just too much. After this, I don't think anyone should have any faith at all in their claim that they will stick up to the US Government's fishing expedition.

    Actually it's a bit more complicated than that...China (and Japan I believe) bought the US debt, at around 1 trillion dollars. So considering how now the US owes China a significant sum, it will be interestring to see how things will evolve, and if the US will stand up to them, or just bow to them and let them be.

    I mean, Bush talks about getting democracy in countries like Iraq, but China, which is anything but democratic....
  • Its not a big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by l33tlamer (916010) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:17AM (#14555099)
    Chinese users are used to Internet censorship. A lot of educated users know about it and simply surf via overseas proxies. Google will most likely filter results based on Chinese government advisement. It *IS* a business and instead of not being present at all in China, they have decided to provide part of their services in a restricted way. Every country has their own laws, for their own reasons, China is no different. Would it be better if Google didn't enter the Chinese market and users have less choice in search engines? If anyone thinks the Chinese government will adjust their policies for foreign businesses, they don't know the Chinese government at all.

    I grew up in Hong Kong and I have been to China several times. I have relatives in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the states. I don't claim to have a deep grasp of Chinese history or even its culture, but censorship is a touchy issue in Chinese politics. There are a lot of illiterate and uneducated people in China, especially in the country side. Censorship was first put in place as the government is worried about civilian revolutions and strikes due to misunderstanding of government policy. Not speaking the same dialect and not being able to write at all makes for some heated debates between people. This was and still is, to some extent, the reality of the situation in China. If you understand the way some terrorists misquote and misunderstand US policy and statements, its somewhat similar.

    China is still very far behind the western nations in terms of education and technology. It is slowly improving its ability to educate everyone, but its no where near adequate yet. The fact that the Chinese ruling party is made up of so many politicians (1000+ from memory) means that changing long standing laws require a lot of time, as there are so many from the old guard still around. In short, just like China opening its trade borders and becoming more liberal, especially in the big cities like Shanghai, censorship will be gone in a decade or two. We just have to be patient, as the Chinese government does not like fast changes, and it has a lot of past incidents of revolutions that it does not want to repeat.

    I think the main issue here is whether a US business should be allowed to operate in a way that would be illegal in the states. Personally, I don't see a problem with this. Different countries and cultures have different views on information freedom. Absolute freedom is not always a good thing, whilst government censorship is always biased and abusable. One can easily argue that leaving Neo-Nazi and bomb making information easily accessible on the web, especially to teenagers, is not the right thing to do, even in order to provide freedom of information.

    In summary, good decision made by Google, over-blown censorship new stories by the media.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:20AM (#14555117)
    I dream of a day when people finally realize that it's pure insanity to think that a group of people (shareholders) demanding that a corporation do anything and everything it can to grow profits is somehow compatible with the idea of ethics. John Maynard Keynes once said something to the effect of, "Capitalism is the fantastic notion that the meanest of men with the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all."
  • by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:22AM (#14555131)
    China does not need google, there are plenty of chinese search engines that WILL comply with the chinese government.

    Also, they have stated that they will tell users when search results have been removed in order to comply with a chinese government request so the people searching can clearly see that its the fault of the government that their search results arent as good as they could be, not google.
  • by nemik (909434) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:22AM (#14555132) Homepage
    Hello, I have just read very disturbing news of Google agreeing to filter thousands of search terms for the Chinese government. I am curious how Google management sees this as a 'worthwhile sacrifice'. Google promised free, pure information for ALL. A company that sought to unite the world, to help change it for the better and to 'do no evil.' I see the recent agreement with a tyranical government as a spit in the face of all those principles and values I thought Google stood for. I am hereby cancelling my Adsense account, removing Google ads from my home page, abandoning my Gmail account, and changing my homepage. I no longer want to support a company that trades its principles for marketshare and cuts freedom of information for profit. I do not want to wait wondering when I will be next and beleive it to be only a matter of time for limitations to be set on my freedom as well. Shame on Google management for this terrible decision. I only hope that you will reconsider and void this disgusting agreement. Sincerely, (my name)
  • by Mudcathi (584851) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:24AM (#14555136) Journal
    "I don't believe this violates the 'Don't be evil' motto, as Google is simply trying to follow Chinese law."

    What if the law is evil?

  • Re:Worthwhile?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tommers (893816) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:24AM (#14555137)
    No, because I also don't think France or Germany is being "evil" by disallowing the sale of Nazi memorabilia. While I am glad we do not have this limitation in the U.S., the disservice it does to German and French citizens is miniscule compared to the affects of the Chinese governments laws on its citizens human rights. While doing business in China is not as evil as these particular Chinese laws, serving as a censor for the Chinese government is much much more evil than agreeing to not facilitate the sale of nazi memorabilia.

    Its a relevant analogy, but it fails to support your point since the crux of our arguments is not that Google should never compromise anything to do business, but that they should not be this evil to do business.
  • by dangitman (862676) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:24AM (#14555139)
    Why are consumer goods so cheap now? Because they're made in China, and in other places where the cost of labor and production is lower than it is in the states. The American consumer benefits greatly from trade with China,

    I don't agree. China is getting the jobs, and growing prosperity. American jobs are declining - and Americans are sending themselves broke of the illusion of Wal-Mart dreams. not only that, but you get crappy products. of course, China can make good products, but the popular stuff in the big-box stores is pretty shit.

    I don't really see the benefit from having worse jobs and more crappy products that have to be replaced every year.

  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:38AM (#14555198)
    The alternative is to be shut out of China entirely. This would be WORSE for the Chinese citizens trying to break though their government's tyranny. Google isn't sacrificing anything at all. It is giving its Chinese consumers the best product that the government will allow them.

    If you disagree, please explain how Google refusing to participate with China would help a Chinese dissadent. Remember, China's filters have holes, and there will be even more of them if they have to watch every darned google search.
  • by LandruBek (792512) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:41AM (#14555213)
    When the jackbooted thugs from the Bush Junta kicked at your door ...

    What is interesting is, that was (metaphorically) just yesterday. Then this happens today. *Sigh*

    Next question: what search engine should I switch to?
  • by DrEldarion (114072) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:50AM (#14555254)
    Google has financial guns, which in many ways can be far more powerful than physical ones.

    That said, I don't blame them for doing it. They would be missing out on one of the biggest potential markets in existence, and who knows - maybe the "your results are being censored" text will wake some people up to the truth when they would have just remained clueless using another search engine.

  • by gordo3000 (785698) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:50AM (#14555256)
    so in other words, google wanted money and decided that because everyone else was being unethical, it wouldn't matter if they did? what is this, did google forget what it learned in kindergarten? you know, the whole discussion about doing what is right even if everyone else is wrong and standing by it.

    Every little bit of effort has the potential to further free speech. The biggest name right now in the industry saying no to China might incite others to do the same and that means something. Someone has to have the balls to be the leader, and google is obviously not it. But that isn't a big deal to me. No matter how big a person(or corp) talks, not everyone is cut out to really take the sacrifices necessarry to stand by their values.

    PS> I've been up for 20 hours now, spelling and grammar are no longer important matters.
  • Re:Worthwhile?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:54AM (#14555268)
    Well, one of the sites banned in the French and German version of Google according to the most recent list is radioislam.net ...

    Now, just in case you think radioislam.net is some sort of fanatical extremist islamic sight, the first paragraph I read on the site is this:
    "No hate. No violence
    Races? Only one Human race
    United We Stand, Divided We Fall
    Freedom of Speech - Use it or lose it!"

    A lot of their stuff is very anti-Bush and anti-Israel, but I see nothing that would constitute any sort of hate crime or anything like that. Certainly they are not selling Nazi memorabilia as you are suggesting.

    Now, do you think censoring this site is OK? If so, why? And if it is "good" for France and German to censor sites like this, why is it bad for China to censor sites it feels are just as negative for its own society? Do you even know the sites that China bans? Maybe China is banning the exact same sites! No one has published a list yet!

    There is a double standard. If you think it is OK for Google to obey censorship laws, then it should be OK. If you think it is wrong for Google to obey censorship laws, then it is wrong. But if you are asking Google to determine which is "good" censorship, and which is "bad" censorship, then isn't it reasonable that you and Google would have different opinions on what is good or bad censorship?
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JordanL (886154) <jordan.ledoux@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:58AM (#14555284) Homepage
    Right on, brother. We only approve of America's oppressive style of government!

    Go ahead, have a laugh and be "hip" by taking a jab at the "corrupt" and "vile" American government. Just don't come complaining when you realize that you go other places in the world, even other Europeon countries, and don't enjoy the same freedoms.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by patio11 (857072) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:58AM (#14555287)
    I invite you to perform some tai chi excercizes in the Washington Mall, then in Tianamen Square, and after the broken bones heal you can lecture us all on the moral equivalence of the American and Chinese governments. By the way, if you had posted a message equally critical of China as your message is of America from China, you would be guilty of crimes against the state (and your Internet connection would probably have terminated after you sent an HTTP request containing the characters for oppression).
  • by carlivar (119811) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:02AM (#14555302)
    They would be missing out on one of the biggest potential markets in existence

    Yeah, who cares about those pesky ideals. Keep the piles of cash coming!

  • by slashdotnickname (882178) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:07AM (#14555321)
    Google doesn't have guns.. The Government does.

    Google has a far stronger weapon than any gun... the ability to make easy the free exchange of ideas and knowledge.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bottlemaster (449635) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:13AM (#14555347)
    I am ashamed of Google and any other American entity that encourages China's oppressive style of government.

    Giggle. Right on, brother. We only approve of America's oppressive style of government!

    Take the beam out of your eye. Nationalism is for chumps.


    I, personally, am ashamed of Google and any other American entity that encourages any country's oppressive style of government, and I imagine the GP shares this view. Your response would have been appropriate if the post you cited had touted any kind of American-centric jingoism, but it didn't.
  • by Pingla (64700) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:20AM (#14555375) Homepage
    This is simply BS. Compare the two search results:

    Chinese Google [google.cn]

    US Google [google.com]

    I see two very different results, and no notice of censorship.

  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirSlud (67381) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:28AM (#14555402) Homepage
    > Just don't come complaining when you realize that you go other places in the world, even other Europeon countries, and don't enjoy the same freedoms.

    Yep, the whole world sucks except for America!

    Or you could be moderately intelligent and undersand the point he's making. EVERY civilized country reduces freedom, rather than simply being unable to enforce granting all, for the sake of whatever the fuck you define 'civility'. If you like what civility is in your country, stay there. If you don't, vote or leave. But don't, for a moment, think that any country allows the ultimate ideal in freedoms. Millions upon millions of people on this planet prefer the style of freedoms and restrictions granted by their government over Americas, and its retarded to actually place one's personal beliefs as the measure of what the right balance is. Its reverse phychology dude .. no matter how old you are, anybody who suggests that free will exists and that you're incapable of regonizing how to take maximum advantage of it will piss you off. Don't fall for it, it just makes you look juvinile.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:28AM (#14555405)
    It's always really funny when a story like this is posted. "Oh these poor chinese people. Wouldn't happen in the good ol' US of A, the land of the free."

    Don't you realize how oppressive America is? You can't even show a naked ass in late-night network television or say 'fuck'! You can vote but you're not allowed to buy beer, etc, etc, etc.

    Compared to many European countries, for example, the USA is pretty bad in this respect. I'm not comparing the USA to China, but it's still incredible how many Americans don't even realize the fact that their country is certainly not a model society for freedom.
  • by Cecil (37810) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:40AM (#14555449) Homepage
    And that makes it okay? "Shareholders" and society in general need to grow a conscience and learn there is more to success than money. That there's more to LIFE than money.
  • Backwards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shmlco (594907) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:41AM (#14555453) Homepage
    Personally, I think the Chinese have this search engine censorship backwards. If I were in charge of the country, I think I'd WANT a massive easy to use search engine that spends its days and nights toiling away finding links to dissident web sites. After all, it would make my job of finding and... uh... reeducating those unhappy people MUCH easier.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quizzicus (891184) <johnbanderson@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:49AM (#14555484) Journal
    Just don't come complaining when you realize that you go other places in the world, even other Europeon countries, and don't enjoy the same freedoms.

    So essentially what you're saying, is that as long as someone else in the world has it worse off, we should be grinning as our rights are stripped from us... Sounds like a good argument to me.

  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:55AM (#14555501)
    Giggle. Right on, brother. We only approve of America's oppressive style of government!
    How did this get modded as "insightful"? What exactly is insightful about that statement?...
  • by mrogers (85392) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:00AM (#14555517)
    That's an argument against the existence of publicly traded companies, not an argument in favour of what Google's doing. A law that requires people to act immorally for the sake of money runs contrary to the oldest principles of both morality and law.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:09AM (#14555547)
    You say that following the law was equal to being moral. So if the Chinese law said you had to punch people in the face if they said something nice, that Google would be obligated to have its employees do that, or else they would be immoral?

    I don't agree. Sometimes obeying a law is immoral. Sometimes breaking a law is moral.
  • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:20AM (#14555580) Homepage
    And that makes it okay? "Shareholders" and society in general need to grow a conscience and learn there is more to success than money. That there's more to LIFE than money.

    Quite true, but you can buy a whole hell of alot more stuff to enrich your life with money. For example, time. Each of us has a limited amount of time on this earth, some more than others. If you dont need to trade your time for money (working) then you can spend more of your time with LIFE.

    To ignore that money is really the currency of time and freedom is to shortchange yourself time.
  • Re:Bad comparison (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:28AM (#14555609)
    Furthermore, fundamentalist Muslims (aka the jihadis) aren't a threat to Americans in power, they are simply a threat to Americans and non-Muslims period.

    Actually they are a threat to Muslims as well.

    The bombings in KSA and in the middle east killed as much (if not at least twice) Muslims as non-Muslims.

    The "jihadis" represent the Muslim faith just as much as the KKK represented the Christian faith.

    I know that this is completely OT, I just wanted to clarify that up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:32AM (#14555623)
    Fitting you chose that picture, since there was still a massacre in Tiananmen Square. He held up a column of tanks briefly, but in the end it was still a bloodbath.

    Does anyone really think that a company (any company, even, say, Wal-Mart) refusing to do business with China will really cause the Chinese government to change their practices?

    Does anyone really think that an Internet company would cause companies like, say, Wal-Mart to also reconsider their operations in China?

    Google could stand their ground and refuse to do business in China. But then MSN, Yahoo, Baidu, and whatever else will gladly swoop in and suck up the market. And nothing will have changed, except we'd get to feel good about it. Kind of like we'd feel after holding up a column of tanks for a minute before everyone is ruthlessly slaughtered anyway.
  • by seguso (760241) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:40AM (#14555644) Homepage
    Though instinctively I am led to dissent with Google's move, rationally I can't help thinking that it is not their job to oppose the Chinese regime. It is the Chinese people's job.
  • Re:Evil Sellouts? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by otis wildflower (4889) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:44AM (#14555652) Homepage
    How many of us have clothes/laptops/radios/dvd players/televisions that were made in China?

    I'm not the pious, high and mighty one claiming to be morally superior. I don't even claim to be not evil.

    It's the corporate hypocrisy that rankles, and brings Google morally back down into the muck.

    It's their right, and perhaps their duty to shareholders, to kowtow to the largest collection of eyeballs on earth. This is what happens when you become a real company in the real world.

    But a private business with moral backbone would simply decline to do business in that atmosphere.
  • by ceeam (39911) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:45AM (#14555662)
    Rather:

    Do no evil(*)

    (*) Void where prohibited
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nathanh (1214) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:47AM (#14555665) Homepage
    For example, here in the US, in ANY court case, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. In many europeon countries, this varies with the type of court case. Libel cases, for instance, have the burden of proof placed on the defendent in Brittan.

    You keep telling yourself that [smh.com.au]. Here's what Reverend Desmond Tutu had to say:

    "We are appalled that revered conventions are being blatantly flouted such as the dictum that someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that everyone is entitled to legal defence of his choice and that habeas corpus obtains. I support your efforts to ensure justice is done for your loved ones and that they will be given access to the families. God bless you." -- The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu -- http://www.guantanamohrc.org/ [guantanamohrc.org]

    The US spin machine even has a nifty term for what they're doing: Internment Without Trial. Wtf? They just slapped a happy-happy name on "guilty until proven innocent" and you guys bought it. Loyal sheep are already parroting the US government's implication that innocent until proven guilty doesn't apply to certain people.

    The hand-wringing about innocent until proven guilty is all very well but the assumption must inevitably be applied a little differently to someone accused making off with a bun out of a bakers, than people held captive in the act of fighting against our forces and our allies. Given the circumstances in which they were taken captive, I am personally far more concerned about the threat to our security these people represent, than the conduct of those that detained them. Kelly Tait, Edinburgh -- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4204997.s tm [bbc.co.uk]

    Ok, admittedly she's British. Do you think most Americans would say any different? What worries me most is that it seems US citizens are less informed of what goes on in Guantanamo than people from the UK and Europe and Australia. Aren't you frightened by that?

    As I said, remove the beam from thine own eye. You guys are acting pretty scary these days and it's even scarier when you don't realise it. The fact that I'm already receiving negative moderation for even daring to say that the US is less than perfect should be all the evidence you need that something is very wrong in the US right now.

    Very, very, very wrong.

  • It's a start (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smallfeet (609452) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @07:04AM (#14556090) Journal
    You have to consider this over a longer period of time then a couple years. That government in China can not last, none do. Being told that your government hates you is a good way to encourage people to change their government sooner rather then later.
    The notice might as well be "If you lived in a free country you would be seeing all sorts of neat stuff right now".
  • by Ixalon (317659) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @07:29AM (#14556165)
    What annoys me is that this seems like selective censorship... If Google were either to stay out of China altogether, or prevent any results being returned for 'banned' topics then it'd not be so bad. But specific results are hidden, which leads to a sort of misinformation - you only see the side of the story that the Chinese government wants Google to show.

    "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful"
    http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/corporate/index.ht ml [google.co.uk]

    Well, I'd certainly not call this making the world's information universally accessible!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @07:53AM (#14556230)
    I'm pretty sure most Chinese realize they are being censored by their government.
  • Re:Bold Statement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by argeybargey (894693) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:23AM (#14556347)
    Google have the choice to decline business in China the same way you have the choice to avoid buying anything manufactured in China. Do you?
  • by Itchy Rich (818896) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:02AM (#14556504)

    And that makes it okay? "Shareholders" and society in general need to grow a conscience and learn there is more to success than money. That there's more to LIFE than money.

    What if that money that they made was spent on curing Malaria in Africa, or some similar beneficial endeavour? Wouldn't that lighten this already-grey area slightly? Is openly-labelled censorship better or worse than disease? It's subjective.

    My point is that it's easy to say there's more to life than money, but when money has such a significant effect on you and those around you it's rarely that simple.

  • by zielaj (678979) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:04AM (#14556514) Homepage
    "According to local laws, regulations and policies, part of the search results is not being shown."

    This is very different from replacing individual search result items with "this result has been censored".

    In communist Poland 60s-80s, it wasn't uncommon to see entire articles in newspapers replaced by "this article has been censored". But at least you knew what they removed. On the other hand, who reads the smallprint at the bottom of a webpage?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:22AM (#14556620)
    First off, it is going to take a long time for the Chinese market to become as attractive as the American one.

    There are a lot of poor people, everywhere. I don't think anyone can comprehend this nor the inability of the average Chinese person to afford anything more than day to day living expenses.

    Neither is China interested in handing over its large market to western companies - vis a vis making their own DVD standard and 3G standard. They don't want to pay royalties to others - they want to keep their yuans! They know how big their market is and they know if they can come up with their own technology, even if it is a close copy of someone else's, they don't need to pay others for it.

    Next, having lived in China for some period of time, I will say that during that time I often had problems accessing www.google.com. Quite often these problems seemed to appear when there was discrepency between the DNS results for looking up www.google.com in China vs the USA.

    Something that's really bizarre is that not there is not universal blocking of any particular web site. Sometimes a URL won't work but the IP address will. Sometimes you cannot access a web site but someone using a different ISP can.

    Lets not forget that the google cache is permanently inaccessible to anyone behind the Great Firewall of China.

    Of course this google problem is easily fixed with an ssh tunnel to a proxy outside of China and a nice proxy.pac entry.

    But, to round off, any company that rolls over for China will not gain any respect from the Chinese and could well be lining up to be screwed by them.
  • by bheer (633842) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {reehbr}> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:04AM (#14556962)
    I can understand that if any other company does this. It's expected. But when a company that routinely touts the "don't be evil" tagline does it, it _deserves_ criticism.

    Or else they can simply stop cawing about "Don't be Evil". I've never felt comfortable with the their insinuation anyway-- it's fashionable to call a lot of Google competitors *cough* MS *cough* 'evil', but when you look at _true_ evil (the Holocaust, Stalin's purges, Mao's cultural revolution) you realize that Google's just cheapening the word by applying it to their competitors.
  • by Churla (936633) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:23AM (#14557111)
    I believe the stance and form that we hold Google to the "Don't be evil" motto breaks down to a simple check. Don't put profits above ethical and responsible behavior , EVEN IF IT'S LEGAL TO DO SO.

    You can see this in why they haven't turned over search results to the US government. They're not being "evil" and holding to their ethics and a sense of right to privacy.

    Now, why did they agree to mutilate search results by censoring them? (Which I think we can all agree is an evil thing to do, censorship and all..)

    Answer : They're already doing business and making profits in the US, not helping the government won't hinder those profits. On the other hand if they want to make PROFITS in China by doing business there they have to agree to do "evil".

    Profits > Ethics = Evil

    They choose to pride themselves on the "Dont be evil" motto, that creates a pretty black/white line to judge on in this case. And agreeing to it gets back around to the quote already made about evil winning when good men do nothing.

  • by JFMulder (59706) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:28AM (#14557150)
    "We realise that China is a growing country that is being more and more aware of the world therefore it represents great advertising opportunities for us. We would be sorry if we missed that boat, since this is our core business."

    This is nothing more than a business decision.
  • Pot, kettle... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FurryFeet (562847) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (xnaduoj)> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:07PM (#14559095)
    You Americans can wax poetically about "censorship" when I can see a nipple on the Superbowl without the whole country going "WTF we're all going to die!".

    Different cultures have different standards. I don't believe China's way is the best, but I'm not sure. And neither are you.

    Do you really think Google has to fight against opression? Why don't you start? Go and break the DMCA ina really visible way, and face the consequences. I mean, we all know it's an unjust law, right? So why are you abiding by it?
  • by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @02:22PM (#14560129) Homepage Journal
    China is a communist country.

    Not any more, they're not. They're a hard-core capitalistic oligarchy. But they understand that by continuing to mouth Communist rhetoric, their enemies stay all outraged and irrational, attacking the rhetoric while ignoring most of what the Chinese government is actually up to.

    Lots of people are falling for the ruse.

    OTOH, here and there you can read dispassionate analyses of what's actually going on over there. It's hardly communism any more; it's a rather different sort of authoritarianism. It's a lot like the earlier Chinese system before Mao, but less insular. It's having some significant successes, from the ruling class's viewpoint, while the rest of the world is distracted and misdirected by the rhetoric.

    Whether it's more or less evil than Communism was isn't clear yet.

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