January 24, 2006 7:25 PM PST

Google to censor China Web searches

Google said Tuesday it will launch versions of its search and news Web sites in China that censor material deemed objectionable to authorities there, reasoning that people getting limited access to content is better than none.

The new local Google site, expected to be launched Wednesday at Google.cn, will include notes at the bottom of results pages that disclose when content has been removed, said Andrew McLaughlin, senior policy counsel for Google.

"Google.cn will comply with local Chinese laws and regulations," he said in a statement. "In deciding how best to approach the Chinese--or any--market, we must balance our commitments to satisfy the interest of users, expand access to information, and respond to local conditions."

Google will not initially offer Gmail or Blogger in China until executives feel they can strike that balance adequately, McLaughlin said.

Web surfers in China have had difficulty accessing the Google service, reporting frustratingly slow connections and time-outs, Google said. Human rights groups have accused China's government of blocking access to Web sites that do not adhere to the government's restrictions.

Reporters Without Borders, a France-based group that defends freedom of the press, blasted Google, saying the company was taking an immoral position that could not be justified.

"By offering a version without 'subversive' content, Google is making it easier for Chinese officials to filter the Internet themselves. A Web site not listed by search engines has little chance of being found by users," the group said in a statement. "The new Google version means that even if a human rights publication is not blocked by local firewalls, it has no chance of being read in China."

With a population of 1.3 billion people and more than 100 million Internet users, China's largely untapped Internet market is very attractive to technology companies. Google is opening a research and development center in China and owns a stake in Baidu.com, the most popular search engine in that country.

Google is not the only U.S. search firm targeted with complaints about censorship in China. Previously, Google censored its news site in China, removing material banned by the authorities, but it had not censored its U.S.-based search engine accessible in China and was the last of the major search engines not to have done so, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Meanwhile, earlier this month Microsoft admitted removing the blog of an outspoken Chinese journalist from its MSN Spaces site, citing its policy of adhering to local laws. Last June, Microsoft acknowledged censoring words like "freedom" and "democracy" from its Chinese MSN portal site.

And in September, Reporters Without Borders accused Yahoo of providing information that helped Chinese officials convict a journalist charged with leaking state secrets. Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Angered by such reports, some politicians have threatened to pass laws restricting U.S. companies from cooperating with the Chinese government on censorship. Hearings are planned for the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights and in the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

Ironically, Google was praised by privacy advocates and consumers last week for fighting the U.S. government's request to hand over random Web search data. Yahoo, Microsoft's MSN and America Online had complied with the request.

45 comments

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Abetting Dictatorship is Wrong
Google ignobly follows in the footsteps of such dictatorship-boot-licking corporations as Yahoo (who helped get an innocent journalist sent to prison in China) and Microsoft (who now censor MSN web logs for the Chinese government.)

This is morally reprehensible, and demonstrates an appalling lack of civic leadership by the principles of Google and these other companies.

The response of Microsoft is typical -- meely mouthed and cynical, "We comply with the laws of the locales in which we do business", as if the existence of laws were an end in themself, and is if laws enacted by censorial dictatorships were on moral par with those enacted by civilized free nations.

The fact is that if a business cannot *morally* comply with laws in a country then it has no business doing business in that country.

This is as much a practical matter as a moral matter (and why should these two spheres be at odds?) If western business were to stop helping the Chinese government impose its censorship of the Internet, then maybe its citizens would have better cause to rise up against their oppressors. And the fact that these companies will actually go so far as to help get innocent -- properly innocent, by civilized standards of justice -- citizens arrested and imprisoned (or worse) makes them as morally culpable as the dictatorial government itself.

It is time for democracy and freedom for China, and time for western corporations to stop collaborating with the dictator government there.
Posted by baisa (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Lovefest with Google ends
So much for using power to do good. This highlights the problem with centralizing any sort of web application; it can be controlled and hence abused. It's time for us to figure out a decentralized means for searching the net.
Posted by jtlapp (2 comments )
Link Flag
You spout of Democracy and freedom, yet you are spouting non-sense.
1st off a corporation is an organization whos only purpose is to make money for its shareholders. They have many of the similar rights of a person, but They are NOT. They are governed by the rules and laws where they are allowed to do business.

You speak of laws if the existence of laws were an end in themselves. Well a matter of fact They are. There is no discussion. You may not agree with the laws, you may not like them, or that they were decided by dictatorship. But they are simply the laws. If you dont like them, fight to get them changed. If you dont believe in fighting, then die to get them changed. Either way, it doesnt matter.

You talk of business fighting to make a change. Again, start at the beginning.

The U.S.A. in general is loosing power, status, and influence in part to the moralistic high ground, bleeding heart liberals, and low intelligence level of its populace. We throw away our rights every time we vote  do you truly believe we live in a democracy? True democracy does not/can not work.

Sometimes the only way to get things done is throught the power of 1 or a few.

If a business wishes to sell its software with modifications that comply with the rules of a nation they should, otherwise someone else will. Imposing your morals and value system on someone else is limitation of freedom. Yet cry baby liberals cant give it up.

Facts: People are Born, People Die.
Posted by SimpleTruth (5 comments )
Link Flag
how about
You stop buying any product that has a part that was manufactured in China (if you are American good luck with that) and strap on a rifle and go liberate some people? That's how the Chineese got their gov't in to place if I recall, should work to get them out.

Oh wait.. It's easier to blame Google then actually do someting. Nevermind.
Posted by Bob Brinkman (556 comments )
Link Flag
Lovefest with Google ends
So much for using power to do good. This highlights the problem with centralizing any sort web infrastructure; it can be controlled and hence abused. It's time for us to figure out a decentralized means for searching the web.
Posted by jtlapp (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There is one, it is AnooX
There is a De-centralized & Open & locally operated yet interlinked Search engine, it is AnooX. You can read about the De-centeralized & Open aspect of AnooX here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.anoox.com/sep-overview.jsp" target="_newWindow">http://www.anoox.com/sep-overview.jsp</a>

You can see why AnooX is the better search engine model here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.anoox.com/anoox-better-search-engine-model.jsp" target="_newWindow">http://www.anoox.com/anoox-better-search-engine-model.jsp</a>
Posted by Dean_Ansari (61 comments )
Link Flag
What happened to "Don't do evil"?
Google should change it to "Don't do evil unless a foreign dictatorship tells you to."
Posted by benjaminqiu (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
New company slogan...
"Do the Lesser Evil"
Posted by richard.watson (34 comments )
Link Flag
Small correction
It should be 'don't do evil unless there's a buck in it' and that would apply to 99.9% of corporations worldwide.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Link Flag
Censored Already?
How do we know we aren't having search results censored already?
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We can't stop another country from doing what we do ourselves.
I'm tired of governments raising the masses to be what they want. Of course, at this moment it's a hard thing to stop because it's been happening in the USA for way too long.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My need for alternate engines...
Just highlights how money is more important to companies than standing up for freedom of information. (Ironic that the core of this argument is the Internet which embodies sharing of information)

So what I am going to attempt to do is look for an alternate search engine that works just as well.

Anyone have any suggestions?
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
try this one
give this one a try, I use it on occasion, I like the clustering feature:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://vivisimo.com/" target="_newWindow">http://vivisimo.com/</a>
Posted by (8 comments )
Link Flag
Google denies US Govt, but does whatever China says
When they US asks for some search records, it's "an invasion of
privacy" and "free speech" issue.

But when China want's to block and censor information, Google
complies and does what it's told. Why no lawsuits in China?

Do no evil? Google IS evil.
Posted by nazzdeq (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Different Laws
First of all, ALL search enginees censor info in China and Google was the last holdout. Secondly, you can't compare what companies do in the US and in China. Each country has a specific set of laws and regulations that must be followed -- what's legal in the US might not be legal in China.
Posted by Rusdude (170 comments )
Link Flag
Different Laws
First of all, ALL search enginees censor info in China and Google was the last holdout. Secondly, you can't compare what companies do in the US and in China. Each country has a specific set of laws and regulations that must be followed -- what's legal in the US might not be legal in China.
Posted by Rusdude (170 comments )
Link Flag
Evil is a strong word
Google can't fight the Chinese government on every detail the same way they can fight the US government. Thats the beauty of our system. Fighting the Chinese government can mean a quick end to business operations within their borders.

The reality is, Google made both moves for the same reason. Business interests. They appeased the Chinese government so they could continue to operate without having their site blocked to Chinese users. They refused to hand over data to the US government because of the way they feared it would look to their US users. It wasn't because of some righteous moral quest, it was to protect the bottom line.

That doesn't exactly make them evil. Companies, like individuals, sometimes have to find compromises between what is ideal in an ethical sense and what is realistic. Have the people of China lost anything by Google modifying search results to remove some items? Not really. Had they not done so, they ran the risk of China blocking the site altogether, in which case their citizens wouldn't be able to find anything using Google..
Posted by someguy389 (102 comments )
Link Flag
China don't have a Constitution standing in their way
Besides, freedom only rings in our ears.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
Why no lawsuits in China
Are you serious? It must hurt you to think. Take two advil and re-read your comment.
Posted by jarubal (2 comments )
Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by Cyrus_K (60 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Explain to me...
how Google finding it necessary to censor google.cn affects my searching on google.com? I know the acolytes of AnooX seem to find it necessary to post this junk in every thread they can find, but what you point out here doesn't change anything about censorship. Google's move does not affect any sites but google.cn. In the same manner, AnooX.cn would be forced to adhere to Chinese law if it wished to continue operation. Neither companies filtering of Chinese search results would lead to censorship in other countries. Stop assuming that AnooX is a cure to all things wrong with the world.
Posted by someguy389 (102 comments )
Link Flag
I love AnooX :)
What I specially love about AnooX is that:
1- It allows us to Vote for the search results,
rather than treating us like we are brain dead which is how Google, Yahoo or TV news treats us

2- That AnooX promises to only be in the search
engine business and not enter any other business. I can tell you that as a business owner I would no want to fund my enemy, which is the case every
time we buy Ads on Yahoo or Google because if they are not competing with our businesses today,
they can be tomorrow. So to have a search engine
which promises to only be in search engine
business, as AnooX does, is really wonderful.

I love AnooX just for that last point :)
Posted by 207495111267145837975635436522 (58 comments )
Link Flag
Govts open markets not companies
Why the uproar? if you open a market then the capitalist creed dictates a company has to enter it, if Google didnt compete in China they would be violating their obligation to stock holders, its the govt that opened up the chinese market and tolerated the hr abuses. i guess each one of you slagging google off is preparing to send back your iPod, your levi jeans, your tee shirts, your plasma screens and all the other products of chinese slave labour that has allowed western prices to remain so low and fueled the current consumer boom????
Posted by sgwbelfast (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Alas, I'm paying!
What? Human Rights? Well, some people are more human than others, you know. After all, who dictates whats RIGHT or WRONG are the shareholders. I don't mind if chinese children DIE in subhuman slave labour, I just want to buy a fancy Nike. I don't have ANYTHING to do with their lives' conditions. Alas, I'm already PAYING for the goods, don't tell me now I'm supposed to THINK about HOW these goods are made! Lemme go back to "sex and the city", I'm getting too bored with all this pointless discussion.
Posted by aFelipe (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Google censoring in China
I think Google's position is morally wrong, aka "a cop out". Its as bad as the "don't ask don't tell", or "we support our troops, but not the war". they just don't want to stand up for principle and loose out on China's market.
Posted by baileyb (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Right and Wrong
How to define right and wrong?
Either way, it is decided by ones belief. And, belief is nothing but a consequence (result) of the brainwash processes by our surrounding energy.
I guess, Google was brainwashed by two different cultures.
Posted by Believe Brain (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hipocrisy is the name of the game.
What a hipocrisy for us, Americans, and if not the entire world, to criticize companies like Google, MS, and Yahoo for complying with the mandates of an abusive govt like the dictatorship in China. Sure, we all agree that China is horrible when it comes to human rights, an enemy of the U.S. and other atrocities.

But, let's take a look at reality. Who is China's biggest customer? Probably us, Americans. When was the last time you flipped any product over and didn't read "made in China"? 8, or more, out of 10 items around us is made in china, or with parts made in china.

Although I don't agree with the Chinese dictatorship. I do see why Google had to give in in order to do business in that country. It's all business.

Why is Google protecting child porn seekers outside China is beyond me. But, I guess they think that what they can't do with the Chinese, they can do it with the rest of the world.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Posted by Dead Soulman (245 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Refusal to turn over search records?
If your reference to Google's protection of "child porn seekers" is meant to relate to the companies recent refusal to hand over search term statistics to the government, you need to go back and read the articles again. That issue has nothing to do with kiddie porn. The law the US government is trying to prove as effective is meant to protect minors from seeing porn, not from being in it. We have every right to critize corporations and judge them on their actions, but to do so responsibly we must first understand the issues.
Posted by someguy389 (102 comments )
Link Flag
Do no Evil (except when we make tons of money)
The more I read about Google and see their actions, the more discontent I grow with this company. Who can explain why Google agrees with the Chinese Goverment to censor websites, and then disagrees with the US goverment who is trying to combat child pornography...

Just shows that this company is run by two kids that need a lesson in "doing good" and living upto their own standards...
Posted by jcc567 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Small minds think alike
So Google stands up to the AMERICAN Government in defense of the AMERICAN Citizen and confidentiality. An AMERICAN company defending an AMERICAN ideal and challenging, NOT defying, but challenging the AMERICAN government.

Google wants to provide a service to CHINA. Yahoo and Microsoft are doing it... poorly, so why miss out on that. The only way to get their foot in the door is to follow CHINA's regulations. An AMERICAN company forced to follow CHINESE law to operate in CHINA.

What is Google going to do? Ignore the largest population on the planet? Better yet, why not take on a government that they are in no way a part of.

C'mon people, would someone out there please think about this? Pull yourselves away from the sound bites. What would you say if a CHINESE company wanted to do business in AMERICA, but not follow AMERICAN law? Would you care if that CHINESE company publicly stated they don't like CHINESE law?

Google is smart to go into China. If you don't see that, then go stick your head back in the sand. The ONLY way they could do business in China is to follow Chinese law, which makes sense. If you want to cry out that Google is evil, then you better start screaming about Microsoft and Yahoo as well. Better yet, do that while you are shopping at Wal-Mart.
Posted by jarubal (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
look at
look at their stocks! Would google jump 400 points from meager ad space, I don't think so.
Posted by fabilitis03 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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