Google censors itself for China

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google censors itself for China

This is a very disturbing news story indeed, and is starting to convince me that maybe MJR is right

The company is setting up a new site – Google.cn – which it will censor itself to satisfy Beijing’s hardline rulers.

Google argued it would be more damaging to pull out of China altogether.

Critics warn the new version could restrict access to thousands of sensitive terms and web sites. Such topics are likely to include independence for Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Currently, the Google search in China acts very slowly and is disrupted quite a bit as a result of Chinese government attempts to censor it.

The company argues it can play a more useful role in China by participating than by boycotting it, despite the compromises involved.

“While removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission,” a statement said.

Utter nonsense. Google is a search engine, and is measured by it’s reliability and accuracy in searching. If they are deliberatley providing a hamstrung performance just to please an authoritarian government, then they are going directly against their very reason for existance. I am not claiming that Google should act as an agent on behalf of subversive groups in China, but to exclude results because of their political content is a disgrace.

I can only assume that this comes down to revenue. For Google to earn the revenues they can in China they must provide an always-on, reliable service. They are putting money ahead of ethics.

Its e-mail, chat room and blogging services will not be available because of concerns the government could demand users’ personal information.

I am sure they could demand that information. And if Google can deny it to the US government, why can’t they take a stand against China? Because they already have the market share in the US, and have to do everything they can to grab as many users as possible in the emerging markets like China.

Shel Israel offers a good perspective on this.

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