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Google agrees to censor search results in China

Google bows to China pressure by Verne Kopytoff, Chronicle Staff Writer Jan. 25, 2005

This is an interesting piece of information. On the one hand, Google is fighting the Dept of Justice subpoena on providing user information, but on the other hand the company has agreed (just as the other search engine companies have done) to censor search results in China. How does this get subclassified in the “do no evil” category?

“The popular search engine will block results that include such terms as “free Tibet,” “democracy” and “Falun Gong” as part of a Chinese Web site the company is introducing today.”

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment

  1. In reading up on the Google-China story in the Seattle Times, I came across this example of Google censoring search results right here at home:

    “…the U.S. requires censorship based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These various countries also have laws on child pornography,” he said.

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act requires U.S. Internet service providers to block access to Web sites violating copyrights on materials such as music or movies.”

    The article didn’t mention who decided whether a site violates DMCA. If it’s whoever the RIAA and MPAA thinks it is, there is likely a good amount of overblocking going it.

    Since the deal with Google and China deals with specific political content and because Google defends its conduct based on compliance with local laws, I think it offers a troubling possibility for the future of federal government information here at home – particularly if the federal government is allowed to substitute web posting for notification of new reports and publications.

    Think about a future where some federal domains are ordered off Google because the government doesn’t care for regular monitoring of the site.

    More worrisome, think about a future where documents that have been yanked from agency web sites but posted by third parties such as the Federation of American Scientists are not available because the government has ordered Google and other search engines not to permit search results that pull up documents the government has decided no longer belong on the ‘net. Think of future Taguba reports, which had no right to be classified in the first place.

    This is part of the price users pay for giving the private sector full control of information access. Scenarios like the ones above can be avoided by having librarians collect and index electronic publications and make them available through their catalogs and union databases such as WorldCat.

    “And besides all that, what we need is a decentralized, distributed system of depositing electronic files to local libraries willing to host them.” — Daniel Cornwall, tipping his hat to Cato the Elder for the original quote

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