Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Google, China's Willing Censor

By nostalgiphile in Op-Ed
Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 02:54:40 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

In hopes of increasing its China market share, Google has announced its eagerness to be a better Thought Policeman by enforcing the PRC's hardline censorship rules. To that end, the company has recently established a separate China domain, google.cn, which will streamline the tricky business of violating civil rights in the totalitarian Middle Kingdom. Ironically, the announcement comes as Google does battle with the Bush Administration, which is also trying to violate civil liberties by obtaining access to Americans' Google search-results. If Google cooperates (as Yahoo recently has) with the Chinese government to spy on its citizens, then why can't they cooperate with the US government's efforts to snoop on its citizens? The price of doing business with China may be that our information civil liberties will be compromised throughout the rest of the world.


Gmail may be safe for the time being--Google isn't offering it in China yet, because they're afraid the Chinese secret police will come asking for citizens' passwords--but the way their search engine works may be more important for personal security. The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard did an empirical test of China's web censorship capabilities in 2003 and found several broad categories of censorship. Among them were
Taiwanese and Tibetan sites generally. Blocked sites included business sites (like the A&D Company of Taiwan), non-commercial sites (the Taiwan Health Clinic and a total of 709 .edu.tw sites, as well as the Voice of Tibet), and government sites (the Office of the President of Taiwan and the Taiwanese Parliamentary Library among 936 other Taiwanese government sites, and the Official Website of the Tibetan Government in Exile). More than 60% of Google's top 100 "Tibet" sites were found to be blocked, and more than 47% of the top "Taiwan" sites were blocked. Taiwanese content was also blocked disproportionately, relative to its representation in our testing sample; fully 3,284 .TW sites (13.4% of .TW sites tested) were blocked, while our overall block rate was approximately 9.3%. (Of course, comparisons of block rates must be performed with care given the subjective formation of the list of sites tested. For lack of a domain name specifically associated with Tibetan sites, it is more difficult to perform such a comparison on the block rate of Tibetan content.)
Having looked at the search terms used by the Harvard lawyers in compiling their data, I've gotta say that they were using very modest terminology to test Google's censorship capabilities. They didn't run searches on things like "Taiwanese Independence," "Totalitarian China," or even "Girls Gone Wild"--otherwise they would have found that the vast majority of the blocked Google sites in China were related either to "Taiwanese democracy" or to "Japanese teen cumsluts."

I'm being flippant, but this is precisely the gist of Google's new move to create a separate .cn domain for their "customers"--it wants, I think, to fully segregate the Taiwanese and Chinese dataspheres and cut off the flow of information from Taiwan to China and vice versa. In the long run this could be disastrous for the two countries, because if there really is no access to information about Taiwan within China, the people can easily remain ignorantly belligerent toward the island nation. In the short term, however, Taiwan's own distinct datasphere will develop independence and strength locally as a haven for "free" information in the Chinese language, now that Hong Kong no longer fills that role and Singapore never could.

For the non-Chinese-speaking world, Google's all out divide-and-conquer strategy tells us that the company seeks eventual dominance over the Middle Kingdom's internet market. Moreover, instead of "global integration" it seeks a divided, easily managed world of separate, distinct spheres of interest. In short, Google plans a corporation that can operate both outside the bounds of both international and local laws and, paradoxically, one that can instantly adapt to and even "prop up" the corrupt local laws--provided they are in some way profitable.

----
* Thanks to thefirelane for sentence #3, and everyone else who helped improve this steaming pile of Kuronian doodoo.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
What should Google censor next?
o Chavez's Venezuela! 4%
o Storm-front.org. 2%
o Pro-Taiwan independence sites. 4%
o Nostalgiphile's subjective rants. 14%
o Falun Gong sites. 2%
o Kuro5hin.org 26%
o Slashdot.com 26%
o Nothing! 17%

Votes: 41
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o Yahoo
o announced
o does battle
o an empirical test
o "free" information
o Also by nostalgiphile


Display: Sort:
Google, China's Willing Censor | 130 comments (112 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
google's corporate slogan: (2.00 / 6) (#1)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 02:26:54 AM EST

"do no evil"

(smirk)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

They're not doing evil! (2.33 / 3) (#11)
by wiredog on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 08:02:31 AM EST

They're just refraining from doing good!

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
This makes no sense. (2.70 / 10) (#8)
by sesquiped on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:49:42 AM EST

First, and most obviously, China doesn't need Google's help to censor anything. The government controls all the ISPs. They control the network backbone within the country. They have huge amounts of networking hardware at the border, doing content filtering on all traffic that enters or leaves the country. Google's decision has no effect on the range of content that Chinese users have access to, because if they didn't censor results, the government would do it for them. Except they'd block the whole results page instead of individual results.

Second, Google isn't in any position to "cut off the flow of information from Taiwan to China and vice versa". If Taiwan has no restrictions on search results content, then all of the web pages in China will be available for searching from Taiwan, just like they are from anywhere else in the world.

Third, in the introduction, you write "How can Google ... let the Chinese government have this information, but not permit Homeland Security similar access?" First, "Homeland Security" didn't ask for anything, the Department of Justice did. Now, the Chinese government hasn't asked for any information at all, and specifically nothing similar to what the DOJ has asked for. If they do, it's not clear exactly what will happen, because they have no rights to data that is stored outside of China. But the question is almost useless, because the government already has access to all the queries performed by Chinese users, because they control all the ISPs.

In general, I'm disappointed in the level of analysis that people are applying to this situation. It's pretty clear that the ability of Chinese internet users to access information freely was neither hindered nor enhanced by this move. What is going on here is Google providing a locally branded version of their search engine to make Chinese users more comfortable and try to increase their market share in China. Yes, they're getting more friendly with the Chinese government. But that's a good thing! The more contact there is between the West and China, the more our ideas will seep into their culture, and the less isolated China can remain. We can't change them overnight, but at least if we're talking to each other, change will happen eventually. By ignoring them completely (which is what Google was effectively doing before this google.cn thing), we lose the ability to influence them at all.

Collaboration (2.75 / 8) (#9)
by Hung Fu on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 06:02:52 AM EST

Collaborating with an oppressive government legitimizes it, even if it's just for business. What's particularly bad about this deal is that Google is not just turning a blind eye to human right violations, but is actively participating in them. And as Google is a flagship US tech company, it erodes moral high ground the West has to criticize China's human rights recard.

It's not like China needs Google to use the Internet or have contact with Western culture. There are any number of search engines that are just as good as Google. Google's real value as a company isn't it's technology but it's customer base and brand power. Which is why Google doesn't want to risk allowing any potential markets go untapped.

The fact is, corporations have always got along great with oppressive regimes. The IBM custom built machines for the Nazis to tally up deaths in concentration camps. Coke hired death squads in Colombia to kill union activists. Shell ruined Nigeria's environment and then had protestors hanged.  

But this sociopathic behaviour shouldn't be accepted as a fait accompli. Corporations are given the legal rights of people, so they should be expected to act like people - with ethics and morals.

__
From Israel To Lebanon
[ Parent ]

Exactly (2.50 / 4) (#25)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:03:43 PM EST

It is collaborating, but I think I disagree with the statement that China doesn't "need" Google. In fact, it could be legitimately argued that censorware is the next big thing in software development. Yahoo, MSN, Baidu, and Google are encouraged to race against each other to develop the most advanced censorware possible for use in China. Remember, we're not dealing with a "market" per se in China, but more of a racket that is controled by Party bosses who want to maintain ideological control over their population above all else.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
you should be outside of Davos now (2.00 / 2) (#92)
by bankind on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 10:22:58 AM EST

complaining about evils of pragmatism. While the people inside write-up (and exclude you from collaborating in) the framework for how the world operates.

And where do you get that people (let alone corporations) are expected to act "with ethics and morals?" Is that some of that intelligent design religious role playing stuff? Are you a lawful good Christian?

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

I only agree with you (2.33 / 3) (#12)
by killmepleez on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:23:54 AM EST

if this is some super secret mission impossible plan to gain the trust of the red commies by self-censoring so Google becomes an e-sleeper cell, and in five years when the whole connected population has become dependent on Google, in the middle of the business day Google search results will automatically redirect all queries to an I'm Feeling Lucky search for "cracking the bamboo firewall" or "remember Tiananmen Square you murderous fucking bastards!"

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
It's called argument by precedent (2.50 / 4) (#19)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 12:38:20 PM EST

If Google cooperates (as Yahoo recently has) with the Chinese government to spy on its citizens, then why can't they cooperate with the US government efforts to snoop on citizens?

Second, the (albeit simplistic) point of this little article is to suggest that Google's Chinese censorware project might be important for the rest of the world as well. No where did I say that this was a "bad" thing, in fact I even presented the advantages of it for Taiwan.

Finally, I appreciate your insights, but I don't think many China-watchers buy the argument that we're trying to change them from within with good old fashioned American commerce. Rather, most experts would probably agree that our executives are lining their pockets with the sweat of Chinese workers and crossing their fingers that the dictatorship can stay in power for 10,000 years.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
How About (3.00 / 2) (#31)
by thefirelane on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:43:25 PM EST

If Google cooperates (as Yahoo recently has) with the Chinese government to spy on its citizens, then why can't they cooperate with the US government efforts to snoop on citizens?

What if Google says its policy is to follow the law in the countries in which they operate with regard to spying on citizens. In China it is required, so they do it. In the US there is recourse through the judicial process, so they will do it. I suspect if Google looses its US appeal it will hand over the information.

-
Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
I don't buy blindly applying "precedent" (none / 1) (#84)
by sesquiped on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 03:12:35 AM EST

Precedent might work within one legal system and one jurisdiction, but I don't see why it should apply in this situation. The Chinese government asks Google for logs. Google might try to fight them, but if the alternative is getting kicked out of the country, sure, they'll give them up. In the US, though, they have a much greater chance of winning a challenge, and much more to lose by caving (because their users and advertisers are more informed about their actions), so they'll fight as hard as they can. It seems unlikely to me that getting accustomed to cooperating with the Chinese government would affect their behavior in the US.

Anyway, I'm not a "China-watcher" (I try to avoid politics as much as I can), and to be honest, I have very mixed feelings about this whole situation. My point is mainly that things aren't nearly as binary as much of the commentary I've read seems to think, and the alternative to establishing a censored google.cn may be worse than doing it.

[ Parent ]

K5, Slashdots willing mirror (1.55 / 9) (#13)
by t1ber on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:36:28 AM EST

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/25/0432239

Nothing to add.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

That article is completely different (none / 0) (#15)
by nebbish on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:54:34 AM EST

Or do you think news should only be reported and discussed in one place?

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

yes (none / 1) (#16)
by t1ber on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:14:13 AM EST

If you read the discussion on slashdot, most of the links appear both places.  Why bother reposting all those here?  Or, maybe the slashdotters stole them from this article.  Who cares?  The point is that I read it this morning.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

Slashdot stuff? (none / 0) (#21)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 12:46:26 PM EST

For the record, I don't read Slashdot, but if you did perhpas you could contribute some insights to help improve this article? K5 isn't Slashdot by a long shot, mainly because k5 articles are longer, have a different approach/aim, and generally have more interesting discussions.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
insights.... (none / 0) (#26)
by t1ber on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:11:10 PM EST

You'll find my contributed insights in the slashdot article on the same topic.

No, really, I already read this topic this morning...

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

Why bother being a Kuron... (none / 0) (#28)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:29:26 PM EST

Is, I guess, what you're saying. Okeedoke.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
your father smells of elderberry (1.40 / 5) (#45)
by t1ber on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 04:55:24 PM EST

Uh, I bother commenting on stories I haven't commented on another newsfeed?  I mean, if you're going for that argument, why bother even voting?  Just make K5 into Yet Another News Aggregator and forget about it.  Or do you just have your dick in a meatgrinder because we strive for unique content here?

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

IAWTP (none / 0) (#95)
by madmodbomber on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:09:46 PM EST



[ Parent ]
What a coincidence (none / 0) (#20)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 12:40:09 PM EST

And I don't even read Slashdot.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Pretty damn shitty (2.00 / 2) (#14)
by nebbish on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:52:40 AM EST

The honeymoon is over

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

why use google.cn? (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by j1mmy on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:23:08 AM EST

will google.com be blocked for all chinese users in the future?


Yes, apparently that's the idea (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 12:24:24 PM EST

They will be able to connect to the subsidiary hub google.cn, but not to google.com.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Really? (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by sesquiped on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:30:16 PM EST

Where did you read this particular fact? I hadn't heard it before.

Also, who exactly will be doing this blocking?

[ Parent ]

Since I live in Taiwan (2.66 / 3) (#30)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:43:03 PM EST

It isn't possible to tell you definitively how Chinese servers behave, but in Taiwan if I type in www.Google.com I get re-directed to Google.tw. Now, fortunately, down at the bottom of Google.tw I have been graciously given the option of going to "Google in English" or others. I'm told by Chinese friends that no such alternative is available in China.

Now, maybe you can split hairs and say this isn't a "block," it's just a lack of a services. But that's b-s since Google.cn shouldn't work any differently from google.tw or google.de if it's "Google." Unless of course you admit that there is censorware built into google.cn and that's what makes it different.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Ok (none / 1) (#83)
by sesquiped on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 02:53:25 AM EST

Well, there's censorware built into google.de also, to comply with local laws and regulations, but I'm not going to push that argument.

What happens if someone in China goes to http://www.google.com/ncr ? Yes, I understand that not offering the link definitely isn't cool, but I'm curious at this point.

[ Parent ]

Standard Practice (none / 1) (#111)
by harrystottle on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 09:22:18 AM EST

All Google users are directed to their national versions. This is ip based and can only be bypassed by using a proxy with an ip address outside the territory. Even if I click on "go to google.com" it bounces me straight back to .co.uk ferinstance...

Mostly harmless
[ Parent ]
Way to misappropriated blame (3.00 / 5) (#22)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 12:46:32 PM EST

in a feeble attempt to bash google.

google does not WANT to violate china's civil liberties

the want marketshare in china

it's simple.  Play by the rules or don't play at all.

To say that they have a hand in making those rules is completely fucking absurd.  And to say that google playing by foreign rules is somehow gonna effect change in rules here in the states is paranoia.

Google can fight the bush administration because the rules are on google's side not Bush's.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!

What does Google want then? (2.60 / 5) (#23)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 12:54:37 PM EST

It wants market share, and it wants to be buddies with the thugs in charge so it can get that. If being buddies means coughing up the ips of Falun Gong sect webmasters or dissident journalists, you can bet they will cough them up. Likewise, censorship is all about controling people (otherwise, why bother?), and Google wants to help China secure that control.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
lol what? (none / 1) (#24)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 12:58:52 PM EST

google isn't an isp

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
Google China (3.00 / 5) (#27)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:28:09 PM EST

Google uses a cache to store webpages locally on its servers in China. When too many "bad" searches come from one IP, that IP can be blocked by Google.cn and the user's IP registered in the cache. According to the Wiki on censorship in China:
One part of the block is to disallow certain terms from being used on search engines. These search engines include both international ones (e.g. Google and Yahoo!) as well as domestic ones (e.g. Baidu). Attempting to search for such a term results in a 'The page cannot be displayed error.' Repeatedly attempting to search for blocked terms results in the entire search engine being blocked, presumably from the same IP address.
Now, how all this works at the level of code is still something of a mystery. If you find out, please let me know--I can think of more than a couple of China-bloggers would like to figure it out. The point is, if you have your IP blocked (as mine was when I was searching for some Taiwan independence stuff), a record of this block presumably stays in the local cache. BTW, a weeks worth of this cache is what the DOJ wanted to subpoena I believe.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
OMG CTS [NT] (none / 0) (#71)
by mettaur on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:38:11 AM EST


--
[Applying business theory to trolling]
[ Parent ]
Look at it this way (none / 1) (#89)
by nebbish on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 07:44:35 AM EST

Would it be right for a US media company to publish a censored newspaper in China? It gives tacit support to the notion of curtailing free speech, and more to the point could be seen as actively misinforming the Chinese public.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Move to dump, dump to vote. (2.00 / 3) (#33)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:51:14 PM EST

Google and China have been working together since the beginning to offer the kind of services that google propigates with the sort of protections that China needs as a part of its sociopolitical doctrine.

The US is a 'free country,' which is why Google is fighting against the government here, which is trying to (or has, rather) subpeona records that it does not have authorization to view.

China, on the other hand, is not a free country. It is not a democracy, or a republic. It is a communist state where the Falun Gong are oppressed and they face terrorists with democratic ideals.

Google has to compromise, unless they want to be blackwalled from the Chinese internet as a result of thier 'freedom fighting.'

If you've ever read anything that the founders of Google have written, or one of thier interviews, you would see that at the forefront they want Google to be an apolitical company that everyone has access to. When you provide information for a living, this is often the stance you need to take, whether you are providing information to students or terrorists (not that there's much difference).

You're being flippant, and ignorant. Google is not a government, it is a multinational corporation that thrives on finding space between the gaps to propigate.

"For the non-Chinese-speaking world, Google's all out divide-and-conquer strategy tells us that the company seeks eventual dominance over the Middle Kingdom's internet market. "

It doesn't say this to me. It tells me that they're doing what they've done since the beginning. Standing up for themselves when they know that they've got a battle they can win and using diplomacy when they know that they cannot.

For all you know, bringing google.cn will allow for a greater disbursement of information to the Chinese people which will eventually lead to a political reformation (communist or otherwise). Education is the only tool necessary, and that's something that Google is willing to offer since that's what it does best.

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords.

It tastes sweet.

A nice apology (2.66 / 3) (#34)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 02:07:14 PM EST

...For Google's position in China, and its new Google.cn, but you have grossly misread the situation. Perhaps I didn't emphasize the point clearly enough but that's not the way it works: Google.cn is a replacement method for "filtering" Google.com. The new domain is by definition segregational, and intended to block more sites more effectively, and nothing more. It's not an innovation, it's a crippled down version of Google.com.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
I haven't grossly misread anything (3.00 / 2) (#35)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 02:11:28 PM EST

Google is replacing its regular portal with a filtered portal to censor pages that the Chinese government wants censored.

The new domain is supposed to be segregational and is going to do a damned good job of filtering unwanted content.

What the fuck is your point?

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

Just doing what they're told, eh? (none / 1) (#69)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:24:06 AM EST

I think that was the excuse IG Farben came up with, too. No one bought it then. No one buys it now.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Christ, this is like a Godwin wankfest! $ (none / 0) (#101)
by debacle on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 06:49:16 PM EST



It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
Listen close, everyone! (2.40 / 5) (#68)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:21:06 AM EST

Apolitical. Corporate criminals of the future, I give to you your brand new excuse.

There are some compromises you don't have to make. Unless you want money very, very badly, and isn't Google rolling in enough dough to build itself a new 60-story HQ building out of pure enriched uranium? Somehow, I don't see a "have to" in that solution. I see a choice.

Google is not a government, it is a multinational corporation

Very true. I suppose it's rather silly of us to be appalled by their behavior! Naturally, no one thinks it's appropriate to try to hold a multinational corporation to any sort of ethical code of conduct, such as not aiding and abetting human rights violations. That would just be unfair and old-fashioned. :P


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
apolitical? (none / 0) (#110)
by Viliam Bur on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:43:56 AM EST

they want Google to be an apolitical company

Do they mean "apolitical" as in "not supporting any political party or regime", or is it "apolitical" as in "cooperating with the Chinese government to censor politically incorrect information"? I guess there are many meanings of "apolitical" out there, some of them quite contradictory...

[ Parent ]

-1, sorry. (2.14 / 7) (#38)
by fyngyrz on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 02:47:21 PM EST

China is a sovereign country. Google is doing nothing wrong by agreeing to limit its activities to those that are legal here, and legal there. On the contrary, if Google insisted on inflicting behaviors that are legal under US law, but not Chinese law, on the Chinese, then Google would be "doing evil."

There is no inherent right to inflict one culture's outlook upon another across national borders. Those are decisions (or revolutions, or whatever) that should be made within the legal, physical and social boundaries of each country, by the citizens of those countries and no one else.

Should you for even a moment be tempted to waver from this position, remember that in doing so, you are giving the Chinese (and the North Koreans, and the Iranians, and etc.) the right to inflict their culture upon you. And I don't think you'd like that.

Blog, Photos.

Uh, can I get that with fries? (2.00 / 2) (#41)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 03:05:00 PM EST

Go google up 'cultural relativism' and get back to me in the mornin. I have to get some sleep.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Whatever. (2.66 / 3) (#42)
by fyngyrz on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 03:32:38 PM EST

If you don't want the Chinese to be able to tell you what to do, then you need to not be telling the Chinese what to do. This has nothing to do with ethics or morals. It has to do with the fact that the world is a disjoint set of powerful and highly militarized nations, nations with distinctly different outlooks from each other which each has developed as a consequence of centuries of social conditioning, not the world of happy fuzzy bunny absolutist rights (human or civil — that's a distinction without a difference, I'm afraid) that sophmoric philosophers wish it was.

You can prattle on about relativism — or not — but in no way will your concerns change the reality of the situation.

Unless you are prepared to go to war with China. And if you are, I'd say you are clearly a dumbass.

Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

Your political correctness (2.00 / 2) (#85)
by nostalgiphile on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 03:14:15 AM EST

Your basic point seems to be that, censorship and civil liberties are culturally "relative," implying that Chinese and Western ideas of civil liberties differ so great that I should be prepared to fight a war (?!) with China over how these issues are played out. That's just bullshit.

I happen to know a good bit about China, and I read the Chinese news every day. I know enough to tell you that you're full of shit as far as civil liberties go, and that the students not killed in Tiananmen could tell you a thing about them too. I also read enough of the news to know that Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo are cooperating with the PRC government in the apprehension of internet thought criminals.I also know that in China civil liberties aren't considered wild, "western" ideas as you seem to imagine, but usually considered fundamental rights that THEY feel they have.

Now, in your little world it might sound cool, PC, and "open-minded" to talk about how China is just different from "us" and therefore we can't say jack about how it does business with Western companies Google. (That way you don't have to think about it, right?) Your attitude isn't going to help a journalist like Shi Tao (busted with Yahoo-provided evidence) get out of jail or help curious Chinese journalists get access to the information they need to report on important events and happening in the world. On the contrary, your PC attitude just helps the party bosses stay in control just that much longer.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Sorry, hysteria isn't my brand of chai. (1.00 / 2) (#97)
by fyngyrz on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 01:49:45 PM EST

I've spent several years in China, if you add all my visits together. I speak both major types of Chinese, poorly, though I can read both of them quite well. I've spent a lot of time in rural areas, a bit less in the cities. When there, I live with the families of martial artists, not in hotels. As a result, I have some slight familiarity with China "on the ground", as it were. I understand the western tendency to get all freaky about Tiananmen, but I also note that here in the US, we completely failed to deal with the murder of students at Ohio state in terms of bringing those responsible to justice, and it is quite clear to me that we are in many ways and in these particular ways, not a lot better than they are. Our political system is currently torturing, imprisoning without due process, tapping phones, shredding basic constitutional provisions... the US, and Google by extension as a US enterprise, has no high horse to ride.

I am confident Google is doing the right thing. Your argument does not move me, truly.

I do have a suggestion for you. As you disagree with Google, perhaps we should have Google ban your IP, so you can't use the service... that's your argument, right? That when cultures collide (your culture and Google's, in this case), sanction is the appropriate response?

Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

Quite the logician, aren't you? (none / 0) (#104)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 12:53:52 AM EST

I have lived in Taiwan (with my Taiwanese family, not with strangers) for several years, have a Phud, and can speak and read Chinese quite well, thank you. Now that our credentials are clear, let me just say again that your see-no-evil, hear-no-evil PC attitude is just the sort of thing that Chairman Hu counts on in keeping the Chinese population ignorant and docile. You're the ideal lap dog of that totalitarian state because you're apparently equiped to see things, but you're too lazy or confused in your thinking to see anything but what you're told you should see.

I say this, for one, because I have serious doubts about your reading skills in any language, based on your interpretation of my argument:
"As you disagree with Google, perhaps we should have Google ban your IP, so you can't use the service... that's your argument, right? That when cultures collide (your culture and Google's, in this case), sanction is the appropriate response?"
Wtf is that? My culture? Nothing "mine" and nothing "culture" is under discussion here. What IS under discussion is the issue of Google's censorware operations in China and how that affects the rest of the world, e.g., Taiwan, the US, Japan, etc. Should Google be "sanctioned," no. They should be fined and the executives punished under American law for violating the civil liberties of the Chinese, just as Nike, New Balance, and other AMERICAN COMPANIES should be fined for violating the labor rights of Chinese working in their factories. But that's not what the article is about either.

Should Google ban my IP? LOL, I would be flattered if it went to the trouble, but that aint the point...and I have no idea how you came to that highly illogical conclusion based on my article. I recommend you get your head out of your Chinese teachers' asses and begin to see things in China as they really are: deplorably bad.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Clear up a point for me, will you? (none / 1) (#116)
by fyngyrz on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 02:30:59 PM EST

Are you a citizen of Taiwan/China, or are you a US citizen?

Thanks.

Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

there are more than 2 choices (none / 0) (#109)
by Viliam Bur on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:38:31 AM EST

If you don't want the Chinese to be able to tell you what to do, then you need to not be telling the Chinese what to do.

But you also do not need to actively cooperate with what they do.

This has nothing to do with ethics or morals.

Consciously cooperating with evil is IMHO evil.

[ Parent ]

google should not support censorship (2.40 / 5) (#55)
by trane on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:11:04 PM EST

no matter the sovereign status of the country. censorship is wrong. freedom of speech is an inalienable right. google made its money based on that right in the us. supporting censorship in china is evil. google is now officially a hypocrite in my eyes.

what google should do is refuse to do business in china as long as there are onerous regulations such as this. money is not everything. but i guess to the google founders, it is. ah well, may they rot in hell.

[ Parent ]

right on -nt (none / 0) (#67)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:14:33 AM EST


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
I mostly agree, but I have reservations. (1.66 / 3) (#79)
by fyngyrz on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 01:39:17 AM EST

I am all for the minimum possible censorship possible. I do think it is foolish to allow someone to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre, to drag out a tired, yet important, example. So not no censorship, but a minimum.

As for it being wrong or right, I think this is culturally relative. Here, (in the USA) I agree. That's very close to what I think the founding folks meant to accomplish. They were certainly working along those lines. In China, I think that the Chinese people have the right to make this decision for themselves. If they want to put up with censorship and the various other issues that I (and most US citizens) find onerous such as the current population controls, they need do nothing. Just as we needed to do nothing if we wanted to put up with England's rules, way back when. We made the choice; it's up to the Chinese to make that choice if they so desire.

I'm not ready to say that I am willing to make the Chinese folk do without Google because I don't like what the Chinese government is doing. That's coercion; and I find it unethical and what's more, innapropriately targetted. The citizens are probably just like your average US citizen, looking to make it through the day, the month, the year, their life... without having to lose one or more family members to criminal charges, revolution, and so on.

There's a pretty severe problem with imposing your will on others just because you disagree with them, or less directly, because you disagree with the system they live under. Sure, you get to make your point in a manner that is fairly difficult to ignore, at least at some level... but did you make it to the right people, and now, having already made the point by force, what is your excuse for depriving them of the best search engine in the world?

What will you take from them next? They eat cats and dogs there, a practice I find nothing less than barbaric... should we deprive them of food, now, because they have repulsive eating habits? You may think so... but myself, even as an animal lover, I think not. Should we drop a retrovirus on them because they practice extremely harsh birth controls, so that they may not breed?

I think that in the end, diplomacy is best, and cultures will slowly, slowly melt together and the most disruptive and unfair practices will fall of their own weight. In the meantime, I can't see my way to your position; it is too absolute.


Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

The Chinese people have the right? (none / 1) (#125)
by vectro on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 10:02:24 PM EST

You say "I think the Chinese people have the right to make this decision for themselves".

I agree. That is why we should not support the Chinese autocratic government in censoring the Chinese people's access to information.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

But they can (2.66 / 3) (#66)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:14:05 AM EST

refuse to do business there, if it would involve doing things they find repugnant. That, however, involves losing a lot of available money, which is apparently more important to them than "do no evil".

There is no international ethical or cultural standard. Of course everyone applies their own local standards. They're the only ones that exist.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Sure. (1.66 / 3) (#74)
by fyngyrz on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 01:21:06 AM EST

They can refuse. In so doing, not only closing a door to profit, but also closing the door on Chinese citizens having a useful, and arguably superior, service. Based on the same thing: Making a cultural-relative judgement designed to apply coercive pressure to the Chinese people. Who may, or may not, be in sympathy with the idea(s) in question.

So, which is more evil? Refusing to service a culture because you diagree with it, or servicing it on its own terms though they may not be terms you agree with? I don't think it's so cut and dry as earning money being a bad thing, either. That's just a throwaway line used to help keep the poor, poor. Money can be a great thing, if you're not a dumbass (like most of the population of Hollywood seems to be, for instance.) I spend lots of money each year on charities of my choosing, thus removing said money from the hands of the government which I believe would use it to do wrong, and putting in places that I believe need it the most. Without money, this opportunity would be much more limited, or entirely missing in action. That makes me really appreciate it.

Back to China: I'm not a fan of a lot of Chinese culture. Truly I'm not. However, I'm not a fan of theism either, but I'm not inclined to refuse to sell my software to theists because I don't approve. Even though I believe theists foully lie to children, retard science and a large sector of social development, I pretend to no right to impose my will in the form of restrictions upon theists — that's truly how I see things should be done. I do argue with them, however. Looking across a national border, I reserve the right only to shake my head at what the Arabs, Chinese and yes, even the English cultures find to be normal behaviors. I don't pretend to any right to try to lever them into doing (whatever it is that bothers me) my way, though. Debate is valid; coercion is not. Or so I see things.

On the flip side of the coin, there are a lot of things I don't think are done correctly here in my country, the USA. I'm not ready to accept that these things entitle other countriies to sanction or otherwise mess with us. On the other hand, when we step outside our borders and screw up, then I do.


Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

Some good points. (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 01:37:31 AM EST

First off, it's clearly less evil to refuse the service. Other providers of services can be found. If not, the Chinese government can create a Bureau of Search. Or whatever. They've got a fucking billion people, they can solve their own problems. However, choosing to serve an evil group is clearly at least a morally weak, if not outright evil, choice. If Google refused to serve China and the Chinese people suffer, so be it: the fault is their government's, for driving away ethical help.

They can change it the same way Americans did, long ago when Americans had some fire and some brains: armed revolution. I doubt they will. It's more likely that economic revolution will overthrow the Chinese plutocracy. However, this assumes their economic growth remains turbulent and uncontrollable. I'd say that information control and mass media manipulation will be key if the present regime wants to ride the bucking bronc of industrialization without being overthrown. Translation: Google might be just what China's government needs to prove all the pundits wrong and not be ruined by this great shift.

Me, I'm actually a big fan of Chinese culture. They've provided the world with some amazing inventions, religions, and philosophies. They have made significant contributions in every field of human pursuit, with the possible exception of jazz. It's just their government I can't stand. :P

As for money, it can be a good thing, and I think for the most part Google's heart might still be in the right place. However, this won't be the only ethical compromise China will demand from Google. I am sure of that. The Chinese government is a web of graft and corruption; dealing with it on this broad and high a level, Google will very likely find that proximity to corruption breeds new corruption.

So for the sake of clarity, let me say I'm not in favor of cultural bullying, cowboy diplomacy, and investment extortion. I just don't feel that disassociation is a form of extortion; in many cases, it's the only ethical choice.

If China were a poor and desperate nation and Google was demanding they change their culture before they would do business with them, then you'd have a point. But China is a strong and viable country, and it is Google who is bending its culture to conform to China's needs. In Google's choice I see weakness, not strength. The coercion, if any, being applied to the Chinese by Google was apparently trumped by the coercion China could apply to Google.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
more (1.00 / 2) (#81)
by fyngyrz on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 02:11:09 AM EST

First off, it's clearly less evil to refuse the service. Other providers of services can be found. If not, the Chinese government can create a Bureau of Search. Or whatever. They've got a fucking billion people, they can solve their own problems.

I don't think it is clear (though I accept that you do.)

As for search engines, we know from experience that the technology used makes a difference. I would not so easily make the presumption that the benefits that Google can provide the average chinaperson can so easily be duplicated or even approached by Chinese nationals.

Me, I'm actually a big fan of Chinese culture. They've provided the world with some amazing inventions, religions, and philosophies. They have made significant contributions in every field of human pursuit, with the possible exception of jazz. It's just their government I can't stand.

Well, I've spent a lot of time there (the mainland too), as part of long term study of Chinese writing and martial arts in general, and I've found that there are many culturally based issues that repel me. Eating (and wearing) cats and dogs. Dumping female babies. Superstition at a level we left behind probably a century ago (though we still have far to go in that area.) They're an old, old culture with many warts, and I have a lot of trouble with those warts. Like you, I appreciate many things about them. But I'm not going to give them a rousing pass and blame everything that is distressing to me on their government, either.

However, this won't be the only ethical compromise China will demand from Google. I am sure of that. The Chinese government is a web of graft and corruption; dealing with it on this broad and high a level, Google will very likely find that proximity to corruption breeds new corruption.

You may be sure, but I am just as sure that you are merely speculating. :) Also, our government is a web of graft, corruption, incompetence, superstition, and outright constituional erosion. Glass houses, and all that.

If China were a poor and desperate nation and Google was demanding they change their culture before they would do business with them, then you'd have a point. But China is a strong and viable country, and it is Google who is bending its culture to conform to China's needs.

It is useful to go there and spend some time outside the cities. You'd be amazed at the level of poverty that is the norm for huge numbers of Chinese citizens. They may, at the moment, have an Internet connection at a central location in town, but then again, they may not. I spent a couple of months in rural areas last year, and it wasn't common then. No matter what, the most important lever to get out of poverty is, in my estimation, information. Information that can be used to increase productivity, disseminate labor-saving methods, enhance communications and leverage commerce. Google is a heck of a tool for this for those that are able to get to it. I truly think they'd be better of with it, than without it, and I think they'll come to the freedoms we hold so dear sooner based on having more tools to lift themselves up. Do you have to have an immediate transition to US-style democracy and moderate censorship, or can you find it in your heart to give these people some room to breathe? It's taken us hudreds of years to get to where we are today, and we still can't show female nipples on broadcast television, nor utter certain words of truly mundane value, so maybe it could actually be ok if these people don't get it all done at once, not so?


Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

That's really not my point. (2.66 / 3) (#86)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 03:30:34 AM EST

I actually don't think it's my place to say what China should become. I thought I made that clear. I'm just saying that the Chinese government engages in what the rest of the world (or at least, the majority of U.N. member nations) consider to be human rights violations, in the form of censorship and suppression of political opposition. Google had two choices: leave Chinese money on the table and stand on principle, or take the money and everything it stands for.

Then there are those in this discussion saying Google refusing would cost the Chinese people a service. I say refusing would have spared them the disservice of secret censorship. Which is worse: having less information access, or having a false belief that you have more information? The Chinese government doesn't come right out and tell its people what is being censored. Therefore Google has decided to allow its Chinese users to be fed an illusion that they will have a functional search service, when in fact they will not. That is a tacit lie, and results in a false confidence in the reliability of the search results, which is a disservice in my eyes. In my opinion, you're always better off without a tool if you've been lied to about what it does.

I'm also not saying that the U.S. as it is today should be some sort of model for democracy. I would hope that any future democratic constitution would learn from our horrible mistake and make constitutional provisions against the consolidation of media ownership which has helped to ruin our democracy. It's something the Framers could never have foreseen. As for corruption and the strength of China, all reports I have heard recently, especially economic ones, have prominently featured China's staggering growth rate and industrialization, and its systemic embrace of routine bribery as a way of life. China is certainly going to be among if not THE major world power of the coming century, if they continue to amass money and influence at their current rate. We could go back and forth all day about the relative worth of the U.S. and China, and it would be a waste of time. I don't think "we" are any better than "them", just a few steps farther down the technology road.

And I repeat, I'm not into cultural imperialism. If I were, I would be saying something Coulter-ish like, "Google should take the money, and then secretly remove the censorship controls! FREE CHINA NOW!!" See? I didn't say that. All I said was that if they didn't want to be tainted by the anti-human-rights Chinese leadership, they shouldn't have taken their money. They are now tarred with the same brush.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Change in China (none / 0) (#87)
by sesquiped on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 04:11:45 AM EST

"Human rights violations" are pretty strong words, and I think it's a cop-out to throw them around while at the same time saying "I don't think it's my place to say what China should become."

Just labelling Google evil by association, without admitting that working to reform that evil isn't  virtuous, even if it requires cooperating with it to some extent, isn't fair. I don't know enough about China, or Google, to claim that what they're doing will certainly effect change, but I do know that there is some important potential there.

Now, allow me to interject an actual fact into this discussion, which contradicts your statement that "Google has decided to allow its Chinese users to be fed an illusion that they will have a functional search service". In fact, for any search with blocked results, there's a disclaimer at the bottom of the page, stating that some results have been removed due to local laws and regulations. To be fair, that's not the same as a link to chillingeffects.org, but it is a significant statement.

[ Parent ]

I've already addressed that point. (none / 0) (#122)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 11:57:54 PM EST

I think information control is the only way the Chinese government can prevent the demographic upheavals in their country from toppling their power. They've gone way, way too far down the free-market road to ever stop or turn back now. Once people aren't starving and get some education in order to work blue or white collar jobs, they're going to want to know more and to have more of a say. Orwellian information control is the only way, imo, to run a modern mechanized police state for any length of time without it falling apart.

Therefore the way I see it, Google isn't helping to reform China, they're giving it one of the tools it needs to prevent democratic reforms: information control. It was a very smart move on the Chinese leaders' parts, since resisting information from the outside world for political reasons would eventually crumple under economic pressure. Far better to subvert the information-spreaders right from the start, the better to keep them under one's thumb and protect the status quo.

The link at the bottom is better than nothing, I'll agree. It still doesn't say what is being censored, though, so I don't see what you think the Chinese people gain by it. They already knew they were living under a police state, they didn't need Google to tell them that.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Culture != Politics (none / 1) (#124)
by vectro on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 10:00:29 PM EST

You are conflating Chinese culture with Chinese politics. This is not an issue of cultural relativism; it is a question of political reality.

There must be a moral standard somewhere. By your reasoning, there is no problem with an American company helping to commit genocide abroad, as long as said genocide coresponds to the laws of that country. That's patently absurd; of course moral standards apply, regardless of the political reality.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

This situation strangely mirrors the (2.50 / 2) (#43)
by TheVenicianEffect on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 03:41:42 PM EST

firefox 'ping' controversy.

Mozilla/Google are just implementing something that is already being done anyway. It harldy makes any difference who is doing the evil bit be it tracking or censoring, it just becomes a bit more effective.

Why does it matter if Google drops the results? The pages are censored anyway by the firewall.

What would Google not censoring themselves achieve?
The Chinese state will firewall away Google again, but it would hardly force China to have a human rights revolution: Oh No! I can't access one of a myriad of search engines!

In short: it makes not one bit of difference what Google actually does; to moan about how they are not acting morally is silly when it is a corporation, they have no morals by definition.

How about we do something more productive like get US air force planes to fly over china and drop pamphlets detailing events in Tiabananamen square. Or having the US government block all trade with China.

Google is not in a position to change anything - the governments are and they are the ones people should be moaning about (or preferably overthrowing).

you forgot something (2.33 / 3) (#44)
by army of phred on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 03:56:18 PM EST

In short: it makes not one bit of difference what Google actually does; to moan about how they are not acting morally is silly when it is a corporation, they have no morals by definition.

Remember part of their stated mission is "do no evil", so even if its just the aim of the article to point out the contradiction, thats enough for me.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]

Evil is relative. (none / 1) (#48)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 08:37:28 PM EST

I mean, Jesus, what if Sergey Brinn had been born in the USSR?

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
if evil is relative (none / 0) (#49)
by army of phred on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 08:56:04 PM EST

I can negate their corporate slogan at will.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
Indeed you can (1.50 / 2) (#50)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:18:46 PM EST

But, you are not Google (who determines what is good and evil, to Google).

You are some farty twat on the 'net.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

yeah right (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by army of phred on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:49:17 PM EST

But, you are not Google (who determines what is good and evil, to Google).

Heh yeah thats basically the corporate mindset nowadays, I can't argue that. They could fry one less jew than the Nazis did and since thats "relatively better", they're "doing no evil".

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]

Dude, Godwin's Law (none / 1) (#52)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:50:53 PM EST

I've never actually see it in action before.

Shit, this is like a Christmas miracle.

Where do we go from here? Do I get all Baldrson on you?

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

I'm ok with godwins law (none / 0) (#53)
by army of phred on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:55:53 PM EST

Its a decent enough last resort, and you can't be blamed for using it. You cut yourself off from any other escape, thats for sure.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
Using it? (none / 0) (#54)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:10:12 PM EST

Using it how?

You're the one that mentioned the Nazis.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

heh you needed an escape (none / 0) (#56)
by army of phred on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:12:00 PM EST

I offered you one. Its time for you to accept it.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
Oh, so you offered me an escape (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:18:01 PM EST

By comparing Google to the Nazis?

And how would it be an escape, pray tell?

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

I can't admit (none / 0) (#61)
by army of phred on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:20:47 PM EST

to deliberately invoking hitler, unless I'm ready to see you trapped in defending relativistic morality as a motive for googles corporate motto. Even I don't want to do that LOL

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
Trapped in what? (none / 1) (#70)
by debacle on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:30:59 AM EST

What's wrong with defending relative morality? Why not just debase morality altogether?

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
LOL (none / 1) (#88)
by army of phred on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 07:02:35 AM EST

"google. we're not as bad as yahoo."

I dunno, just isn't the same I guess.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]

boycott google (3.00 / 2) (#57)
by trane on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:13:25 PM EST

they make all their money off eyeballs.

[ Parent ]
Salty, chewy eyeballs (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by debacle on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:18:47 PM EST

That's like boycotting breathing.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
yeah what would i use (none / 1) (#64)
by trane on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 11:57:25 PM EST

msn search?

does ask jeeves still exist heh

[ Parent ]

I'd rather just use google. (none / 1) (#72)
by debacle on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:40:33 AM EST

Communist sympathizers or not.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
we can however (none / 1) (#73)
by trane on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:52:13 AM EST

let google know we don't agree with their decision re China

[ Parent ]
I agree with it with every inch of my phallus (1.50 / 2) (#75)
by debacle on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 01:22:33 AM EST

And more.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
Maybe it's my love of seminal fluids (2.00 / 2) (#93)
by debacle on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 11:08:44 AM EST

Maybe it's the joy I get in swirling my tongue around the crusty bits of wet aged smegma.

Maybe it's the salty, intoxicating taste of unbridled man meat, swimming in my salivating mouth.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

oooh, cts is gonna getcha -nt (none / 1) (#65)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:11:51 AM EST

you filthy moral relativist!! :P


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Corporations are evil by definition (none / 1) (#62)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:20:49 PM EST

Is what I think you meant to say--"they are expected to act in rapacious, greedy, under-handed way if it means more money." Well, pardon me if I think that a handful of internet companies from the US acting in China could make a positive difference in the lives of 1.5 billion Chinese. E.g., by permitting them access to information about Taiwan and/or Tibet.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Yet more steaming slashturds (1.40 / 10) (#60)
by t1ber on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:18:58 PM EST

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/25/2223200

That's just in case you thought this was comprehensive.

It's a good effort, but trying to republish slashdot is just lame.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

Dude, REPEAT, I don't read Slashdot (none / 1) (#63)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:40:35 PM EST

But I guess your worldview doesn't allow for coincidences?

And P.S.: re-posting the same link to a Slashdot article twice in the same K5 article is just plain lame.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
you really don't read it (2.25 / 4) (#90)
by t1ber on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 08:01:44 AM EST

Because you missed out on some very good points in that link that are not present in your submission.

On the other hand, most if not all your points were covered in the original slashdot link I posted.

My world entirely allows for co-incidence, but poor research and ignoring sources gets you a -1.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

I can live with that (none / 0) (#106)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:11:59 AM EST

But I have to ask, since you and several others posted the link to slashdot, our discussions here are quite different from theirs, what's the problem with this being on K5?

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
a few points (none / 0) (#117)
by t1ber on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 03:20:57 PM EST

Slashdot is covering it.  I said it before and I'll say it again, your post is angry, but it doesn't bring any new links to the table.  Slashdot is updating their site with new links, and even shat out another story on the topic.  It might be that the format of the sites are different, but you're trying to minimalize their contribution in the comments.  For a guy who doesn't read slashdot as madmodbomber pointed out, why would you be knowledgeable in their discussions?  Their comments are largely the same but the sites coverage of the story is far more comprehensive then this piece is.  It makes this look like old news.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

For a guy who doesn't read slashdot.... (none / 1) (#94)
by madmodbomber on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:08:59 PM EST

So, Mr Not Slashdot Reader, why did you see it fit to put Slashdot in your poll?

How come a lot of these links you cited show up in t-1ber's original link?  He pointed you to the slashdot story you seem to have taken most of your opinions from.  If they're "your" opinions...

[ Parent ]

"Google-Eunuch Version" news (none / 1) (#77)
by nostalgiphile on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 01:31:42 AM EST

The China Digital Times has an interesting story on what Chinese bloggers are calling the "Google, Eunuch Version." Here's an excerpt:
In the future, for mainland users, only the Eunuch version will be available. If you type in www.google.com, the system will automatically switch you to www.google.cn

That will be terrible. If Google does this, it will be dammed. This company that self-claims "don't do evil" will become the son of Satan completely. It will not only be condemned by global users, but will also be marginalized in China.


"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
treason (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by Blarney on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 09:31:21 AM EST

Google is already planning treason. Yahoo already committed it - turning in a pro-democracy activist to the Chinese authorities. Aid and comfort to our enemies, somebody at Yahoo ought to be hung.

hyperbole (none / 0) (#96)
by xram on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:41:56 PM EST

Please don't dilute actual accusations of sedition and treason with tongue-in-cheek humor.

While I agree that Red China is indeed a threat to the US, they are formally a 'ally' and 'economic partner' to the US.  As such, providing economic aid to them is not treason per se.

Some may argue that it is against the original principles that this country is founded on, but I'm not about to get into that neo-strict constructionist vs. liberal interpretation argument here.

[ Parent ]

not economic aid but political (none / 0) (#98)
by Blarney on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 01:59:52 PM EST

I think there's a difference.

[ Parent ]
the point likewise applies. (none / 0) (#114)
by xram on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:09:09 PM EST

until they're an official enemy, its legit.

[ Parent ]
Compare to the Arab Boycott of Israel (2.33 / 3) (#100)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 04:05:42 PM EST

Many Arab countries have been boycotting Israel for years. There is a US Federal law forbidding any US company or citizen from participating in the boycott, despite the fact that this loses many US companies a lot of sales they could otherwise make to Arab nations.

I don't see why it's illegal to participate in a national boycott but not illegal to participate in state-sponsored human rights abuse. We're fighting to bring demoncracy to Iraq aren't we? Then why don't we forbid US companies from participating in antidemocratic actions in other countries.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Because China fucking owns us (3.00 / 3) (#102)
by debacle on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 06:53:50 PM EST

And seriously, the whole 'antidemocratic' thing is overdone.

Saudi Arabia.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

Good point (3.00 / 2) (#105)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:06:22 AM EST

I just wrote something to this effect in response to a pro-China, pro-rapacious capitalism reader. The way this usually works is that people who are against punishing the companies either say "they aren't doing anything wrong by helping corrupt foreign governments be more corrupt," or else "we have to get our businesses in there to change them and make them less corrupt from the inside." Both of these "responses" are really apologies for the status quo, and both help US companies further their interests in getting rich off of blatant and illegal exploitation.

The ironic thing is that many of these people think of themselves as progressives or "socialists" who are defending poor ole China, or whomever, from the American imperialist bullies when, in fact, they themselves are American imperialism's running dogs.

But yes, I too fail to see why American/western corporations shouldn't be held accountable by American/western laws when operating in foreign countries. Isn't that the logical, most effective solution to stopping corporate sweat shops, censorship, etc.?

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#115)
by thefirelane on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:47:53 PM EST

Isn't that the logical, most effective solution to stopping corporate sweat shops, censorship, etc.?

No, its the most effective solution for creating shell corporations, holdings, offshore companies, and a host of easily created entities designed to get around such legislation.

-
Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
Hmm, yes, but... (none / 0) (#129)
by nostalgiphile on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 01:12:52 AM EST

Surely the best solution isn't to sit on our hands and let them abuse local and international laws in the name of "economic progress." If enforcing the laws and exacting penalties for this kind of conduct isn't the best solution, what is?

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Hey fucktard (none / 1) (#107)
by Talez on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:03:21 AM EST

Google is following the law in China.

Giving search info to the DoJ "just becoz" isn't law in the US so Google can think its a stupid idea and fight it.

Learn the difference.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est

Hah. (none / 0) (#108)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 04:23:23 AM EST

I thought that was research so they could try and get another law passed. Hardly the same.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
heh (none / 0) (#112)
by OrangeSlice on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 09:23:06 AM EST

I was going to post a comment about how the people that write these articles need to pull their heads from their asses, but it looks like a bunch of people already have. Way to go, guys (and/or ladies)!

Yes they've sold out, but (3.00 / 4) (#113)
by harrystottle on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 09:28:57 AM EST

I won't repeat everything I've said in my blog but a couple of points: 1) where was all this fuss when similar censorship was agreed between Germany and Google, and France and Google? 2) When a page is censored in those countries at least google users are informed that their government is censoring the relevant pages (which neither Yahoo nor MSN bother to do) 3) According to Google, the same kind of message will be displayed to Chinese users for their censored pages - which, in my view, at least provides a nice subversive message and 4)Unlike Yahoo or MSN, this sellout has nothing to do with handing over private details to the local dictatorship.

Mostly harmless
Great Firewall of Greater China? (none / 0) (#118)
by Plareplane on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 05:26:40 PM EST

In the short term, however, Taiwan's own distinct datasphere will develop independence and strength locally as a haven for "free" information in the Chinese language, now that Hong Kong no longer fills that role and Singapore never could.

Since when?



Does google have a say in this? (none / 1) (#119)
by guidoreichstadter on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 10:34:19 PM EST

I mean, do the executive management at google have a controlling interest in the company? Because otherwise, it is likely that it would be illegal for them not to take these measures to gain entrance to the Chinese market. Generally, the management of capital-controlled corporations have a contract fiduciary duty to their shareholders to maximise profits- allowing moral or political considerations to determine a sub-optimal economic course of action would be a violation of their fiduciary trust.

Contrast this to the situation in a democratically managed worker cooperative- the management's imperative derives from the goals articulated by the worker members of the corporation through participatory democratic process. Such an organization is well equipped to balance economic goals with other human values.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.

Bah. (none / 0) (#123)
by vectro on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 09:53:04 PM EST

As a legal matter, you may be correct. But as a practical matter, the management of Google has extensive executive powers. They can choose to go with the current China strategy, and claim that it will enhance profits by expanding the market. Or they can avoid China altogether, and claim that it will enhance profits by avoiding any potential boycotts.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
To make that claim plausible (none / 0) (#126)
by guidoreichstadter on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 12:02:08 AM EST

the US cultural context would have to be quite different from what it is now. Realistically, I think you're kidding yourself if you believe the management of Google are high minded idealists who would maintain that fiction against their own better economic judgement. Sad to say, the core reason for Google's existence is to make money, not practice idealism.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
Don't change tack, please. (none / 0) (#127)
by vectro on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:23:27 AM EST

Your posted suggested that google as a company, and google's executive management as a group of people, had no legal choice in the matter. I'm just pointing out that's not really true.

As for the ethics of the people in question, my experience is that there are plenty of people around who are willing to work on things that they disagree with in principle, just because they don't know how to set boundries at work. IOW, there are plenty of smart wusses out there, who can be easily pushed into helping to create a product they view as a Bad Thing.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the same thing happens at the managerial level.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

That is sad. (none / 0) (#128)
by guidoreichstadter on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:07:06 PM EST

I'm just looking at the macro level dynamics- do you know if the executives hold a controlling interest? If not, they are really in a inferior position vis a vis the shareholders, maybe they can parlay their irreplaceability(?) into autonomy in teh short term, but in the long term, they don't have the legal standing to buck shareholder pressure, which has no morals besides maximizing profit.

All that assumes, of course, that the people running google actually do have any big moral qualms about what they're doing in the first place, which I'm not convinced of.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

Do no evil, except in China. (none / 0) (#120)
by Entendre Entendre on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 11:24:57 PM EST

But actually I don't blame them for following the laws of the land, it was the only logical thing for them to do.

Overheard the other day:

"If you want to change the political system in China, join the party."

Brilliant pun, I thought.

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.

Lesser of two evils (2.00 / 2) (#121)
by A synx on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 11:53:40 PM EST

On one hand, helping China censor free speech is Evil, which is specifically forbidden in Google's charter.  On the other hand, China can't possibly censor the Internet effectively, and some information is likely to leak through before the censors catch it.  So you could say the people of Google are doing Evil for censoring Taiwan, or you could say they are being crafty and trying to open up opportunities for errors to slip through.  What's more evil, Google allowing China to censor its entire index and web cache, or Google obeying China's censors and letting some data through, on the hope that a crucial piece of information will be overlooked?

Whatever is going on, Google is playing with fire.  I hope they don't get burned, because a company that gets burned usually ends up with the psychotic jerks unscalded, and in control of the company.  It's inevitable anyway, but hopefully this China thing won't be the tipping point, "Animal Farm" style.

Missing Argument / Discussion Point (none / 0) (#130)
by ethereal on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 03:23:21 PM EST

What seems to be missing here is the consideration that Google's actions directly contravene their given corporate motto - Don't Be Evil.  Whether they have to act like this in order to get ahead in China is beside the point.  There are plenty of times in everyone's life where you have to make a decision between principle, and "getting ahead".  And now we know where Google really stands on its principles.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Google, China's Willing Censor | 130 comments (112 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!