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Google Stands Ground on Google.cn 331

Posted by Zonk
from the testify dept.
nmccart writes "Google gave testimony on Friday to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations. They discussed their decision to build google.cn in China. Elliot Schrage, the vice president for global communications and public affairs at Google describes how these China-based servers fit in to Google's mantra of 'Don't be evil.' Google hopes to use this as an opportunity to help bring global censorship into the spotlight of American politics. Will it work?"
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Google Stands Ground on Google.cn

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  • Google.cn (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aliscool (597862) *
    A synopsis of his (Elliot Schrage's) comments.

    "At the outset, I want to acknowledge what I hope is obvious:
    Figuring out how to deal with China has been a difficult exercise for Google."

    And then 5 or 6 pages of his saying that Google capitulated to Chinese demands.

    Do no evil, indeed
    • "The requirements of doing business in China include self-censorship--something that runs counter to Google's most basic values and commitments as a company."

      In other words, they know that they have completely sold out their basic values. The rest is just pages of rationalization.

      • Yeah. Its like saying in the early 40's: we decided to build death camps in Germany, complete with gas chambers and crematoriums, not because we agree with these things but because we want to put the spotlight on this whole terrible death camp thing and make people come to terms with it. Bullshit.
      • by lbrandy (923907) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:09AM (#14733503)
        In other words, they know that they have completely sold out their basic values. The rest is just pages of rationalization.

        I really dislike Google's stance, but I really hate the self-righteousness of the government (and by proxy, the people, of this country). We have decided that corporations need to stand on their principles and "take one for the team", in order to further American values. The people/government expect companies to "do the right thing" and protect our Bill of Rights abroad on philosophical grounds. Except it's not the private industries job to do that, that's the governments job, and the government has done nothing, ever, to discourage China from being the way they are. They are most-favored-nation, etc. They get a few strong words every year, and otherwise get yielded too constantly.

        In other words, to Congress I say, put your god damm money where your mouth is. Take a stand yourself before you start demanding that others do it for you. This is just complete and total scapegoating. Why is this country looking to Google to lead the way on spreading free speech? When did we decide that the spread of the basic freedoms should be privitized?
        • The fact still remains that anytime an America-based company does business overseas the government will be involved. If, when the overseas, America-based company acts contrary to the laws of America, the government should and will get involved.

          Just because you don't observe the US government trying to make change in China doesn't mean it isn't tring to do just that. I would expect an internal, covert change like that would be classified to a very high level.

          Private industry is made up of "the peopl

          • Personally I would love to see our companies espouse our cultural values throughout the world, but I think there are some issues with this idea of holding a company accountable to uphold "American Ideals."

            Private industry is made up of "the people of this country." So in actuality one should not distiguish the two.

            Isn't it then fair to say that the government shouldn't tell "people" how to manage their business? If Google were breaking the law, then you would have a valid point, but I don't know of any

            • Isn't it then fair to say that the government shouldn't tell "people" how to manage their business?

              I agree to an extent. But there are a multitude of cases where the government has to exert some control. For example, if a law exists that states that a certain cryptographic program cannot be exported to foreign countries due to national security concerns (or due to other compelling interests) then companies with file servers should not make it available for download to foreign countries. How they pre

        • The people/government expect companies to "do the right thing" and protect our Bill of Rights abroad on philosophical grounds. Except it's not the private industries job to do that, that's the governments job

          If you're talking about this being a moral or ethical duty, then surely it's every American citizen's job to do this?
        • by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:56PM (#14734645)
          I really dislike Google's stance, but I really hate the self-righteousness of the government (and by proxy, the people, of this country). We have decided that corporations need to stand on their principles and "take one for the team", in order to further American values. The people/government expect companies to "do the right thing" and protect our Bill of Rights abroad on philosophical grounds. Except it's not the private industries job to do that, that's the governments job, and the government has done nothing, ever, to discourage China from being the way they are. They are most-favored-nation, etc. They get a few strong words every year, and otherwise get yielded too constantly.

          So what should the government do? Even if our economy wasn't dependent upon cheap Chinese imports, what good would isolating China do? We've isolated and punished Cuba with trade restrictions for years, but Cuba isn't any freer. Castro has probably been in power longer than any other leader in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. Given that trade restrictions have failed to achieve freedom in Cuba, why would they do any good in China? Punitive actions would allow the U.S. to act principled, but it's unlikely they'd do any real good, and it might just strengthen the Chinese' government's grip over its people by delaying the rise of a strong middle class. So the U.S. Government is left in the same position as Google- it's evil to engage China, it's evil not to engage China.

          People are being a bit hasty in expecting things to change in China. Freedom takes time. A functional Jeffersonian democracy is a hell of a lot more than the absence of a totalitarian state. It requires security, infrastructure, a market economy, the rule of law, a tradition of people taking charge of their own government. All that takes time. The slow change towards a freer China is frustrating, but the alternative- say, a sudden collapse of the state, as seen in Russia- is probably worse. There, the economy collapsed, the oligarchs ran off with everything, and organized crime filled the power vacuum left by the absence of the state. So for all these people agitating for freedom in China, what do you plan to replace it with? Do you naively expect China to become a model democracy overnight, as we blindly expected to happen in Iraq?

          At any rate, China is changing. I met a Chinese student in a course of mine who was studying engineering; she said her goal in life was to get a good education here so she could go live in Shanghai, get a high-paying job, and buy lots of pretty clothes. Which speaks volumes. China is only communist by name, they are a totalitarian country with a market economy: a fascist state. As the Economist notes, however, that's a hopeful sign. Fascist states like Spain and Chile have good histories of making the transition to democracy, but it doesn't happen overnight.

      • "Even though we weren't doing any self-censorship, our results were being filtered anyway, and our service was being actively degraded on top of that."

        "Our search results were being filtered; our service was being crippled; our users were flocking to local Chinese alternatives; and, ultimately, Chinese Internet users had less access to information than they would have had."

        "we decided to try a different path, a path rooted in the very pragmatic calculation that we could provide more access to more info
      • I don't see a problem if Google uses their initial presence to push things into China later. Obviously, no one who refuses censorship is going to be allowed to set one foot on the other side of the Great Firewall of China.

        I'm hoping Google is toeing up to the line simply to get in the door, and then they'll push the envelope every chance they get once the Chinese government realizes the people are as hooked on it as Americans are.

        Now that would ultimately be a non-evil strategy. Of course,
      • Did it ever occur to you that having no Google at all in China is much worse?
    • Re:Google.cn (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cyranose (522976) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:41AM (#14733155) Homepage
      That's the most lopsided biased synopsis I've seen in a while. The most obvious omissions are:

      + Chinese Language Google.com continues to be available in China, unfiltered by Google.
      + Chinese ISPs do filter this and make it painful to use, but that is definitely beyond Google's control.
      + Offering Google.cn only increases information availability and Google clearly marks when results are censored.

      If doing business with China is truly evil, then let's hear about your personal pledge to boycott Chinese goods, electronics, clothing. Or is hypocrisy only a problem for others?

      "But they said they won't be evil." Give me a break. If doing business with China is evil (and it's not unreasonable to take that stance, if you're consistent), I'd much rather have a company that _tries_ to do the right thing and succeeds 90% of the time than one that never tries at all.
      • Re:Google.cn (Score:2, Informative)

        by DJCacophony (832334)
        - Chinese users who attempt to access google.com from china are redirected to google.cn, without an option to not be.

        - Chinese users cannot use proxies to access google.com because the proxies are blocked, as well as many proxy sites.
        • Re:Google.cn (Score:3, Informative)

          by cyranose (522976)
          I've heard that it was temporarily redirected, but I'm not sure if that's China's doing or Google's (China was previously redirecting Google.com to other search engines). According to Google's official statement, Google.com is as available there as possible. If they are lying, it would surprise me.

          There are other ways of offering proxies that people are working on. There is no perfect solution thus far.
      • You forgot

        + Google will not host any services that store personal information--such as GMail or Blogger--within China. In other words, they can't be forced to give up information to the government that they don't keep within the borders.

        To all you naysayers: Business has to make a profit. That's the way our economy works. You can grumble about that, but nothing you do is going to change it. To complain about a business being a business is disingenuous; a business has no choice but to make a profit if it's g
    • There is no censorship in China - it's just an urban legand. It's been debunked by Snopes China.
    • Re:Google.cn (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Drachasor (723880) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:00PM (#14734691)
      The issue is more complex than you give it credit. There was no ideal choice, so Google made a sensible compromise. They chose the path that gives Chinese searchers access to as much information as possible. Not doing this would only harm the Chinese citizen (by restricting their access to information to an even greater degree).

      Change in China will eventually come, but it will come quicker if outside entities exploit every means of access to the Chinese that is available. That way future generations of Chinese leaders are more likely to be exposed to ideas such as freedom of information and the like.

      You might not like the decision Goggle made, but it is grossly unfair to call it evil. Hmm, perhaps the real problem here is that Goggle clearly is trying to use a Utilitarian ethic, and this upsets people who don't like that moral system. The objectors do seem to prefer hard and uncompromising moral rules, rather than ones that bend and flex to fit the situation.

      Anyhow Google isn't being evil, they are just trying to do the most good for the Chinese citizens as they can (as far as information access goes). It required that they do something a bit unsavory, but I for one agree that it is better than the alternatives they had to choose from. It isn't like they were giving them the Google searches we enjoy before; the Chinese Government was already interfering and wrecking that service.

      -Drachasor
  • google and China (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 56ker (566853) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:21AM (#14732913) Homepage Journal
    Although this may be an unpopular viewpoint here - Google did what they had to do. However they did it reluctantly. As they pointed out they have to follow the laws of the country they're in. Regarding censorship - there are ways around the GFC and people benefit from even the censored version of Google compared to nothing at all.
    • That's right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RealProgrammer (723725) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:32AM (#14733029) Homepage Journal
      As they pointed out they have to follow the laws of the country they're in.

      The logical flaw there is question-begging. The point is, they get to choose the countries they're in, and China need not be one of them.

      It's really an age-old question: do you shun the evildoers so that they don't influence you, or do you go out and mingle with the evildoers so that you can be a positive influence?

      Google appears to be saying that since content filters are not as good as their search engiine, they can be a more positive influence on the culture in China than cooperating with the Chinese harms them.

      And there's money there.

      • What I didn't know prior to reading that article was that Google was already "in" China, in that Chinese people were able to go to Google.com. It's just that it was really slow because Chinese ISPs were trying very hard to block all that bad parts of Google.com. With Google.cn, Google just does what Chinese ISPs were doing anyway, allowing people to have a slicker experience.

        And:

        Crucial to this analysis is the fact that our new Google.cn website is an additional service, not a replacement for Google.com in

    • Although this may be an unpopular viewpoint here - Google did what they had to do. However they did it reluctantly. As they pointed out they have to follow the laws of the country they're in. Regarding censorship - there are ways around the GFC and people benefit from even the censored version of Google compared to nothing at all.

      Bullshit they did "what they had to do". If they wanted to take a moral stand they'd refuse to sell their product in China. Ditto for all American companies. They need us jus

      • "Bullshit they did "what they had to do". If they wanted to take a moral stand they'd refuse to sell their product in China. Ditto for all American companies. They need us just as badly as we need them."

        You don't see the contradiction there? Let me point it out for you. You claim Google didn't have to do what they did. Then you state that "they need us as badly as we need them."

        A large company from *any* country will have trouble ignoring 1.whatever billion customers. And if you ignore them, but y
    • Google did what they had to do. However they did it reluctantly.

      Nevertheless, they were motivated by the same thing that motivates every other corporation, "evil" or not: Greed. They are in China - and playing ball with the government there - because they want a part of that market to maximize future returns for their shareholders.

      Regarding censorship - there are ways around the GFC and people benefit from even the censored version of Google compared to nothing at all.

      Actually, Google will make it easier

      • they want a part of that market to maximize future returns for their shareholders.

        Oh. My. God! Does anybody else know about this? I mean, this should hit the front page of every newspaper in the country!
    • by tpgp (48001) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:28AM (#14732991) Homepage
      Thanks, but we've all seen Google China's tiananmen search [google.cn] vs The US version [google.com]

      However it's interesting to note that something censored in the US [google.com] is censored all [google.co.uk] over [google.cn] the world [google.nl]

      Not comparing what's been censored. Just where.
      • what exactly is being censored when searching "kazaa?" what should i be seeing that im not? i see kazaa.com as the first result, isn't that the correct site?
        • by tpgp (48001) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:41AM (#14733140) Homepage
          what exactly is being censored when searching "kazaa?" what should i be seeing that im not? i see kazaa.com as the first result, isn't that the correct site?

          The complaint was made by kazaa, not about kazaa.

          Scroll to the bottom of the page & you see:
          In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at ChillingEffects.org.


        • it was a complaint by kazaa, about kazaa-lite infringing their copyright. kazaa lite is censored, worldwide, despite the fact that the DMCA only applies in the USA. there are several other sites censored, worldwide, because google is obeying US law, even in countries where it doesnt apply. use this link to find other examples of censorship - http://www.chillingeffects.org/search.cgi [chillingeffects.org] if you search for google, you'll notice several governments are keen to censor google search results, but only us censorsh
      • What are you talking about exactly? Every single search I could come up with for kazaa came up right away on every portal linked in your post. Are you saying they're censoring kazaa? A 0.15 second google search proved that wrong.
        • Click TFL. At the bottom of the page that opens:

          In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at ChillingEffects.org.
        • They are censoring Kazaa lite in response to a DMCA complaint. Scroll down to the bottom of the search results and you'll see something rather interesting.

          They get props for that one IMHO. A great big "fuck you" to the DMCA. Too bad they lost that moral backbone and decided to do business with China.
      • The "censorship" itself is rather different too.

        First, it was brought about be a private entity, not a government (Kazaa threatening Google).

        Second, Google links to this page [chillingeffects.org] where you can see the request that was made, and which sites have been blocked.

        This is much different. You're told content is missing, why, and what content it was.
    • Wouldn't it also be possible to spread the word about the Tiananmen massacre via word-of-mouth?

      I have to wonder, how many people in China are actually unaware of what happened there?

      • I have to wonder, how many people in China are actually unaware of what happened there?

        If their historical memory is anything like that of Americans, I'd say just about everybody...

        • I have to wonder, how many people in China are actually unaware of what happened there?

          If their historical memory is anything like that of Americans, I'd say just about everybody...


          Well, that is just a stupid response. I bet everyone in the US who watched the events unfold in Tianemann won't forget them. That is the power of the US press at work. Now you don't hear about the other 1000's of massacres and abridgements of freedom in the world here in the US becuase the major news outlets generally don
    • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:38AM (#14733110) Journal
      Yes, the first few pages only show pictures of the square. But page 3 of the search I saw showed pictures of protest organizers, and page 5 showed pictures of tanks. From domains within china

      I don't doubt that the Chinese government would want information about the Tiananmen Square massacre kept quiet. But that search just doesn't show evidence that Google has been complicit in keeping the information out of the hands of the Chinese citizens.

      Rather, I think it's mostly a fucnction of what the significance of Tiananmen Square is across cultures. Americans are generally only familiar with the place as the result of the protests and subsequent crackdown. For Chinese, it's an historical place and a center of national pride; it's got more associations to it than just the crackdown.

      • by aug24 (38229) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:07AM (#14733484) Homepage
        All the images are from servers within the .cn tld, which is clearly what google has done, or been told to do. So in that I think you are right: Google is not strictly at fault.

        But the lack of images is nothing to with cultural significance. It's because anyone posting the images we know about is likely to be imprisoned. From stuff I have read, it appears that the massacre is still a huge secret over there. Many people know that /something/ happened, but very few people know what.

        I'd like to see a worldwide campaign to tell the Chinese about it. Perhaps a web site that enabled you to print a letter to a random address in China. Seal and send, for 50c. Now get a thousand people a day doing it...

        Justin.
      • by hsmith (818216) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:38AM (#14733823)
        also you must consider if the pages google happens to be spidering are in china, more than likely the higher number of them WILL have normal pictures of the place, compared to those of the tanks. where, outside the united states the place is remembered by the protest, in china it just may be a place to see. so page rank probably has more to do wiht it than google altering the image rank.
        • also you must consider if the pages google happens to be spidering are in china, more than likely the higher number of them WILL have normal pictures of the place

          I concurr. When I visited Tiananmen Square, it was full of Chinese tourists, many visiting for the first time. (it's a huge country). Tiananmen is in the centre of Bejing and it is at the entrance to The Forbidden City, probably the biggest tourist attraction in China. Many of them had never met a westerner before, I'm in many Chinese family phot

    • by kamapuaa (555446) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:44AM (#14733184) Homepage
      Your comparison is specious, because what's called the Tianmen Square incident in America is called the 6-4 incident in China. A more fair comparison would be:

      http://images.google.cn/images?svnum=10&hl=zh-CN&l r=&cr=countryCN&newwindow=1&q=%E5%85%AD%E5%9B%9B&b tnG=%E6%90%9C%E7%B4%A2 [google.cn]

      Anyway, Tianmen Square is famous for a number of reasons in China, not just the Tianmen Square incident.

  • Uhuh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sexyrexy (793497) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:23AM (#14732927)
    Google hopes to use this as an opportunity to help bring global censorship into the spotlight of American politics.

    Yeah, I can do something that benefits me and then think of a nice-sounding reason for it afterwards, too.
    • Remember, if you ever see me walking down the street, stop, and then kick a nearby kitten, I'm just trying to get people to talk about animal cruelty. I'm not actually a willing participant...
  • by TWX (665546) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:23AM (#14732932)
    ...because asusming that Google's statement is true, there are too many others with their own agendas who will twist whatever's said to bolster their own positions.

    While I don't like Google's actions in China, they're not nearly as reprehensible as Cisco Systems (equipping and training Chinese Police to seek out those who have spoken against the Government using the routers to prosecute) and Yahoo (turning over contact information of those who were specifically targeted), so Google really is a more minor player here than the others anyway.
    • It's simple retaliation. The current administration knows that their on-going media campaigns to alter people's perceptions of events and actions will harm Google.
    • While I don't like Google's actions in China, they're not nearly as reprehensible as Cisco Systems (equipping and training Chinese Police to seek out those who have spoken against the Government using the routers to prosecute) and Yahoo (turning over contact information of those who were specifically targeted), so Google really is a more minor player here than the others anyway.

      Unlike the others, Google actually keep trying to tell evryone they "different". "Good", "Don't Be Evil". As such, they really need
    • The acid test will come when the Chinese government demands the identities of suspected dissdents based on their searches. At the risk of losing the entire Chinese market, do you seriously think they'll refuse, or even announce that the demand has been made? Come on. They've done the right thing (so far) when the U.S. government came knocking, but that's because there's a legal process in the U.S. to fight it. In the end, they'll do as each government requires, with no fooling around. Google will help root
  • Put another way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thefirelane (586885) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:25AM (#14732951)
    Google describes how these China-based servers fit in to Google's mantra of 'Don't be evil.' Google hopes to use this as an opportunity to help bring global censorship into the spotlight of American politics.

    Being evil fits into the idea of "Don't be Evil" because by being evil we are showing the evil of being evil, therefor getting people to talk about evil critically, which is Good.

    Very noble of them!

    In all honesty, I think this is overblown. Congress should examine its own dealings with China first.... clinging to this cold war ideal that isolating a population will cause it to stop supporting its government has been shown to be false (Cuba anyone). Only buy engaging a population, and exposing them to more of American culture can we cause change.

    Put another way, missiles didn't win the Cold War, Bluejeans did.
    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:07AM (#14733474)
      Only buy engaging a population, and exposing them to more of American culture can we cause change.

      I, too, look forward to the day when a billion obese Chinese are driving around in SUVs...

    • All your post is pretty good, except your final line:

      Put another way, missiles didn't win the Cold War, Bluejeans did.

      It was the US military build-up[*] during Reagan's era that provoked the fall of the Evil Empire. No Evil empire, no Warsaw PAct, no Cold war.

      Thus, the missiles did indeed win the Cold War.

      [*] More nuclear aircraft carriers, more submarines, more and better tanks and fighter airplanes... and, of course, Star Wars Project. Not the one with Luke and Leia, the other one.

      Peace!
  • Without arguing the issue if you agree or disagree with the House Of Representatives - do you think the house (or any branch of our gov't) cares about Google's mantra of "Don't be evil"? All they care about is the government (let us not get into a debate about how politicians are corrupt). I think Google needs to shy away from things like their "mantra" and focus on what benefit will this bring to the US. Once they can convince the gov't the pro's outweigh the con's then they will get what they want.
  • by dR.fuZZo (187666) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:34AM (#14733053)
    Members of Congress suggesting Google is acting unethically? My whole world has turned upside down!
  • Evil is relative? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bobcote (304341) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:35AM (#14733061) Homepage
    Google, in the interest of profit, has bent to China's demands. Maybe they aren't the only ones "complying with local laws", however they have the highest profile these days.
    I think what is drawing the most attention is the fact that their motto, which touts corporate responsibility, is taking a back seat to profits. If you are going to paint yourself as the good guys then you should put that responsibilty ahead of profits. Otherwise just change your motto to -- "Out for a buck like everyone else."

    And say they are looking to congress for moral guidance? What kind of a cheap cop out is that?
  • We need FCPA-2.0 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:36AM (#14733071) Homepage
    The original Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [wikipedia.org] concentrates on preventing bribery of foreign officials by American companies.

    We need a new edition, that will also make it illegal for US companies to cooperate with civil rights suppression by foreign regimes.

    Call your lawmaker...

    • We need a new edition, that will also make it illegal for US companies to cooperate with civil rights suppression by foreign regimes.

      Then what's going to happen to the catering companies that supply the CIA caffeteria?! Rendition doesn't happen on an empty stomach you know... at least for the renderers.
    • Re:We need FCPA-2.0 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ameoba (173803)
      I find it interesting that everyone's making a big stink about Google following Chinese laws when operating in China yet they're perfectly OK with companies like Walmart pumping billions upon billions of dollars into the same country.

      I guess this means that the astronomical sums of money we're spending on goods from a Communist country is not ending up in the government coffers & being used to pursue further opression.
  • by Xaoswolf (524554) <{Xaoswolf} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:39AM (#14733118) Homepage Journal
    Google Searches You
    • That doesn't follow. Nobody searches Google, so your inversion is flawed.

      In the US, Google helps you search the Internet; in China, Google helps the Internet search YOU!

      If you're going to plagarize a cliché joke, at least do it correctly.[$pedant_mode->off()]
  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:39AM (#14733119) Homepage Journal
    From the TFA:
    First, our business commitment to satisfy the interests of users, and by doing so to build a leading
    company in a highly competitive industry
    I think that read the other way around - We'll do whatever it takes to get more users in whatever country to dominate the industry. That in my personal opinion is exactly what a capitalist Laissez-faire system should do. But whether that is in the interest of the rights of people in China - who may be settling for a crippled google.cn instead.
    our policy conviction that expanding access to information to anyone who wants it will make our
    world a better, more informed, and freer place.

    So how is censorship going to encourage a freer place ? Misinformation is often more effective than disinformation, just like spies and assasins are more effective than soliders on a fort. The effect this will have is to prevent the majority from actually complaining, leaving the vocal minority of civil rights protestors looking like whiny children.

    Be responsive to local conditions.

    Didn't that mean give in to china or cuba or whatever country just to gain a toehold in that country.

    As much as I'd like to believe all the moral claptrap in this release, I think the bottom line is clearly stated in the article as follows - The backdrop to Google's decision to launch Google.cn is the explosive growth of the Internet in China. and Google wants in. Yahoo has already made all the connections [yahoo.com] nearly half a year ago.

    To summarize - there's money in China and google.cn is going to be there too.

  • by typical (886006) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:40AM (#14733138) Journal
    If Congress wants a revolution in China, great. I don't see why the hell they expect Google to fight their wars for them, though. I pay lots of tax money to fund the CIA so that *they* can start revolutions in various places.

    A lot of people were pretty sure at one point that communism was a pretty enlightened and excellent idea. You can be damned sure that if the USSR started putting pressure on any organizations that they had influence over to spew communist ideology in the US, that people and government in the US would be pissy about it, and it would be considered "evil" by the people in the US.

    Ultimately, revolutions come from within. If you don't have lots of discontented people, you aren't going to have an uprising. Maybe you can be the one to touch flame to tinder and accelerate things by a couple of years, but you can't build a revolution from nothing (but you can sure as hell antagonize people by trying). The folks in China clearly are not unhappy enough at the moment with the censorship going on to want to do something about it. All Google is doing is not trying to fight the social norms in China.

    If Congress wants to run psyops, they can use the system that is already being paid for by my tax dollars -- Voice of America [wikipedia.org]. As you can see in the table on WP, China is now the leading target of US propaganda. The end of the Cold War kind of terminated our interest in poking the Soviet Union.

    China is a competitive market, and one in which Google is not dominant. If you try to force Google to leverage their market influence in the hopes of pushing your own culture on someone else, you're just going to kill Google in that market. That's a really stupid idea if you're trying to export services like Google.
  • (a) First, our business commitment to satisfy the interests of users, and by doing so to build a leading company in a highly competitive industry; and

    (b) Second, our policy conviction that expanding access to information to anyone who wants it will make our world a better, more informed, and freer place.

    Some governments impose restrictions that make our mission difficult to achieve, and this is what we have encountered in China. In such a situation, we have to add to the balance a third fundamental c


  • "Google gave testimony on Friday to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations."
    "Google hopes to use this as an opportunity to help bring global censorship into the spotlight of American politics."
    "Will it work?"


    Naw ... it'll never work! What do you expect to happen? Do you think the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations is going to bring them in to give testimony or something?

    Er ... ah ... never mind.
  • Google's Spine (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Sundroid (777083)
    Here is the famous photo from Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989 showing a young man standing in front of a column of Chinese tanks sent to quash the students who demonstrated for democracy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_mas s acre [wikipedia.org].

    Today we don't know the fate of that brave young man, but we can safely assume that there is more steel in that young man's spine than any of the leaders in Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Cicso who would choose to clear the way for the Chinese tanks if they were
    • Today we don't know the fate of that brave young man, but we can safely assume that there is more steel in that young man's spine than any of the leaders in Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Cicso.....

      But not as much brass in his neck!
  • by Satanboy (253169) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:53AM (#14733302)
    All you folks that complain about google offering this service need to have your head examined.

    Google has NOT shut down their chinese language servers outside China.

    They have only ADDED servers in china that chinese folk can use to search WHICH THE CHINESE CITIZENS KNOW ARE CENSORED.

    If the Chinese citizens want the uncensored, they still have the option of using the uncensored site and dealing with latency, but for the MAJORITY of their searches, they now have a nice and fast websearching utility. Think about it like this, you search for something, you see there is a censored site. Now you KNOW there is a censored site and can maybe search using a proxy etc.

    Google has done an amazing thing here, and really has empowered people in china while still working within the laws.

    I applaud their decision to offer a proper service to Chinese citizens who just want a quick search on local news etc. This is what MOST people want.

    Ask yourself something. How many days out of the week do you spend looking up how to overthrow dictatorships, and then ask yourself how many times you look up your favorite music artist, favorite movie, favorite actor, favorite recipe?

    As far as I'm concerned this was a logical decision and by google NOT shutting down their chinese servers outside the country, they have really shown they are attempting to help people.

    Villainizing a company because they are attempting to help their shareholders and at the same time offering a service we all really enjoy and use for a variety of subjects is completely assanine.
    • Google has NOT shut down their chinese language servers outside China.

      They have only ADDED servers in china that chinese folk can use to search WHICH THE CHINESE CITIZENS KNOW ARE CENSORED.

      Do they also know that the servers outside China are censored? Because google.com is returning the same results as google.cn if you set your browser to prefer the Chinese language or add &hl=zh_CN to your query string.

  • For all the talk of influencing China for the better, posting notices when results are censored, and following local law,

    Google is simply interested in making money. Anything else is spin. Most slashdotters would rail against MS or SCO for such a stunt, so the reaction should be the same here. Not bullshit rationalization.

    notice how they're not rushing into Burma or North Korea offering similar terms, why? because there's no profit to be made.

  • It's hard to see how there can be any half-way house with this. Given the nature of Google's business, you are either fully in this market or right out if it. None of the half-way house arguments given by Schrage really stand up. Each one could equally well be applied to dealing with plenty of other odious regimes, many worse. Is it more ethical to put a combination lock or a conventional padlock on the door? Discuss.

    Given Microsoft's brutal corporatism and apparent relish for steamrollering anyone in th
  • All China's attempts to control the internet will ultimately fail. People are too smart and determined and government is too big and clumsy.

    http://news.ft.com/cms/s/b415d3ca-9e90-11da-b641-0 000779e2340.html/ [ft.com]

    At the same time, Mr Gates claimed that official censorship could never succeed completely in thwarting the free flow of information over the internet.

    "The internet overwhelmingly makes information available. It is not possible to block information, it is just not," he said. "It's [not like the situatio

    • All China's attempts to control the internet will ultimately fail. People are too smart and determined and government is too big and clumsy.

      Technology can make it happen. Filters can flush out dissidents and suspect sites. Whitelists can control whole swathes of the net. Faster and more efficient communication can make the Thought Police the leanest, meanest, most efficient organisation on the planet.

      If the government has enought to lose, they will become a lot bigger and a lot less clumsy, and make sure yo
  • I think their basic defense, which seems to be overlooked in this discussion is:

    1) google.com was being censored by Chinese authorities anyway.
    a) since this was being done by the government at a third-party level, user experince was far from optimal.

    2) google.cn censors keywords, thus maintaining optimum service. censorship is evil but this was happenign anyway.

    3) Importantly, google.com is still accessible in China at the same level as it was before. Thus what google is doing i
    • Censorship is slightly evil, but not as evil as Yahoo throwing people under the bus, as it has done at least twice, providing information leading to Chinese authorities leading to the arrest and confinement of dissidents.

      Google's "censorship" has workarounds. Chinese gulags don't.
  • There is a line here and it is so fine that a man or a company can step across it, go on about his business, and never know the difference. Google says it is trying to use this as an opportunity to help bring global censorship into the spotlight of American politics, but how would we feel if it were Microsoft saying that they have been trying to bring the dangers of illegal monopolies into the public light, or the RIAA, claiming to illuminate the hardships of the consumer.

    Maybe Google is working "undercover
  • and her famous "just say no" to drugs catchphrase from the 1980s?

    she was ridiculed for that, and rightly so, as "just say no" to drugs is a blatant simpleton's oversimplification of a complex problem

    well guess what? "don't be evil" is the same sort of hilarious low iq oversimplification, and i'm kind of surprised at the slashdot crowd for not rolling in the aisles laughing at google

    i'm really just waiting for the residual effects of being smitten with google in the early 2000s to wear off on the slashdot cr
  • While I think it would be much better for the Chinese subjects for microsoft to not proactively censor web pages, for google to not censor search results, and for Yahoo to not sell out dissidents, I also think it is hypocritical for the government to censure these tech companies and yet extend "most favored nation" trade status to China themselves.

    Or is that irony instead of hypocrisy? And is it ironic that China really doesn't need the cooperation of these companies, since with the Cisco routers they pur
  • Or at least a tool of Evil. Everything they do builds an infrastructure of surveillance that can be abused. No government will ignore them for long, the temptation is just too great. Eventually they will be bribed into "going along" as in China or compelled as in the US. Either way, Google will eventually be a tool used to monitor everything you do.
  • by acousticiris (656375) * on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:16AM (#14733582)
    "Google hopes to use this as an opportunity to help bring global censorship into the spotlight of American politics."

    So Google is now hopeful about the outcome of being called into congressional hearings so a bunch of politicians can bloviate about censorship? Huh?

    I'm not going to say it's not possible that this is their intent, but it sure seems like there would be easier ways to do this as a company with the high-profile that Google has. In fact, it would seem it would have be more effective to publically state that China's censorship policies are too broad and back-out of censoring results, all the while jabbing at their competitors who *do* censor. This makes you look (and actually behave) like "the good guy", all the while bringing that same spotlight plus "good will".

    I'm sorry guys. I like Google too. I want to defend them. But I can't bend on this one... every conclusion I come to says that this *is* evil. It should stop.
  • I'd like to know what the heck the house of representatives is trying to prove. The US Govt encourages trade with China, with a huge amount of US Imports originating in China, and other countries where human rights abuses are rampant.

    You don't see the House of Representatives going after Nike for manufatcturing shoes in sweat shops do you?

    This is a bullshit stunt. While I don't support what Google does, they reall should go after companies like Nike first. In the grand scheme of things, child labour is
  • Many people who say the U.S. should not tell the Chinese what to do always have a "bag" of examples of how the United States is Hypocritical when dealing with countries like China/North Korea/Iran, ect.

    It's easy bog a discussion/argument down by obscuficating details each one of which could be argued ad nauseum forever with people debating statistics and what not.

    I don't think it's an unreasonable assumption to say that the United States for all it's faults and hypocracy is a better country when it comes to
  • A B Comparison (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnomalousTurd (571488)
    A. No local servers. Poor service. Censored invisibly. Failing market share.
    B. Local servers. Better service. Censored visibly. Improving market share.

    I know which I think is better.
  • The elephant in the room here is Congress' acquiescence to unconstitutional "reforms" in the US. Tom Lantos spouts off about how reprehensible Google and Yahoo are, and his voting record is not bad in a lot of cases, but he sure thinks you ought not to have a gun and he voted for a fair number of "patriot" act constitutional infringements.

    I'd far prefer to see him working for Americans' civil liberties than those of the Chinese.
  • by NanoServ (901441) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:33AM (#14733776) Homepage
    Google had a choice here: either provide Chinese residents with only the google.com service, which those residents had very unreliable access to, or provide the same google.com service as well as a reliable (but filtered) version that complies with local laws.

    For a moment, forget that Google will profit financially from its position in China and just think about which action most benefits the Chinese residents. To me, it's a no-brainer: Google's decision here was the best one available. Was it perfect? Of course not. But it seems there was no better option.

    A lot of people seem to be under the impression that Google should boycott China. Why? A Google boycott of China wouldn't do anything to help the situation. China doesn't rely on Google like the free world does, and the impact of a boycott would be minimal. If you want real change to happen in China, the best move is to expose the Chinese residents to the most information from outside sources that you can possibly expose them to. That's exactly what Google is trying to do.
    • Perhaps more importantly Google is showing where and why the censorship happens. Something other portals and engines in China probably aren't doing. This means users of Google will know the information is out there but their government is blocking it. That kind of knowledge is a very powerful thing. I wouldn't be surprised to see some rapid change in china as a result. Google's commitment to transparency bolsters their Don't Be Evil stance.

      It's amazing what a few facts can do.
  • by Anonymous Struct (660658) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:41AM (#14733849)
    ...why it's Google's job to take China to task for human rights? Doesn't it seem a little unfair, given we as a nation completely and utterly condone their practice implicitly by importing billions of dollars worth of goods and permanantly extending MFN status and whatnot? If Congress is so righteous about China, let's see some legislation. Oh, you mean it's easier and safer to have public hearings and just blame some tech companies? Okay, yeah, let's do that instead.

    Seriously, am I the only one who finds it the peak of hypocrisy to see the legislative body of a lone superpower blaming Google for not doing enough to bring about human rights reform in China?
    • Doesn't it seem a little unfair, given we as a nation completely and utterly condone their practice implicitly by importing billions of dollars worth of goods and permanantly extending MFN status and whatnot?

      It does seem unfair. We should stop trading with China until it improves its human rights record.

      When Walmart was allowed to import billions of dollars worth of goods, that already was a mistake. It's the same kind of mistake when we sold weapons to various extremists in the past, the same weapons whi
  • Also in Germany (Score:2, Informative)

    by Beuno (740018)
    Everybody should note that they also block search terms in Germnay and France.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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