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Censured for Censorship in China 148

Dwarg writes "On Aug. 10, [Human Rights Watch], headquartered in New York, came out with a report criticizing the three companies for their role helping to censor the Internet in China. The report is particularly damning of Yahoo, which Human Rights Watch says censors its Chinese site far more vigorously than either Google or Microsoft."
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Censured for Censorship in China

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  • censorship (Score:2, Insightful)

    by senatorpjt ( 709879 )
    What's better, censored information or no information? If you want to do business in China, or any other country, you do so at the whim of the government. It's not like you can have an uncensored site. You either have a censored site, or no site at all.
    • You either have a censored site, or no site at all.

      No you either have marginally censored site from a US company which can fight against the Chinese government, or a probably severely censored site by a Chinese company which cannot refuse the Chinese government.
    • by jdbartlett ( 941012 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:13PM (#15892241)
      Yahoo! especially went beyond censorship. And that's disturbing because Google, MSN, etc. didn't.

      The "Yahoo! was just playing by someone else's rules" argument fails. Unlike Yahoo!, Google managed to build a Chinese version of its search engine without handing data to the Chinese government that led to arrests.
      • We have to remember this is the same Yahoo that is firmly partnered with SBC/ATT. The same company that's in the NSA's back pocket. I wonder how much of their efforts are being rewarded locally by intelligence groups.
      • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @11:42PM (#15893019) Homepage
        In the opinion of Reporters without Borders, among major American companies in China, Yahoo is clearly the worst enemy of human rights []. In April of 2006, a senior representative from Reporters without Borders linked up with an ABC News crew and showed up at the doorsteps of Yahoo. The representative demanded that Yahoo management explain the "justification" for its indifference to human rights in China.

        Yahoo has not only censored information on its China-based web site but has also, actively, helped Beijing to arrest, imprison, and torture people who commit "thought crimes".

        Yahoo's actions are understandable even if they cannot be condoned. Half of the team that established Yahoo is a Chinese from Taiwan. His name is Jerry Yang.

        In Chinese society, people are mostly indifferent to human rights.

        Yang simply steered his company along similar lines. He enthusiastically set up a joint venture with Alibaba, a Chinese company, long before Yahoo's competitors entered China.

        The working atmosphere inside Yahoo reflects, to a certain extent, Chinese values. We Slashdotters may be concerned about human rights, but most employees within the walls of Yahoo just do not care. To them, Yahoo = 8 hours of daily work = paycheck. Whether a victim of Chinese brutality rots in a Beijing prison matters not a wit to the Yahoo employees.

        • Hmm, I'm not an expert on this, but if they're from Taiwan, shouldn't they hold themselves up to a higher standard than mainland China? I thought they did that, and thought of themselves as more democratic. Isn't that why they want independece from China? If not, I may reconsider my support of their independence.
      • Months ago (late last year) I asked Senator Allen (R, Va) what he thought of Yahoo's aiding the chinese government in their campaign of oppression. He said that he had not heard anything about it but that he would find out more and that the idea was very distressing. I figured that he was only paying lip service. When the news broke in more traditional media, however, congress took notice. It has nothing to do with my question but it is refreshing to see our elected officials actually taking interest in
    • Was that they were (are?) kissing ass in China by actively exposing democracy and freedom advocates, as in doing the police's job for them, just to get a leg up with the government. That's a big no-no; abide by the rules, but playing along and becoming rights-crushing chums with the likes of the Chinese government (Fuck off chinese communism advocates, until you apologize to the Tibetans and make reparations, you are not a civilized country).
    • Re:censorship (Score:2, Insightful)

      by unix_core ( 943019 )
      Don't you see that censoring facts of political importance (for exapmle pretending certain events never took place) is pretty much the same thing as lying. If companies don't refuse to accept these conditions, they are in effect saying "Ok, you can keep doing this to your pepole, we'll even help you do it." thus also help keep the censor in place and making it more accepted. Now people won't be saying, "Hey, why can't we access google?".

      As far as I know, the site doesn't tell you "This search-hit has been
    • What's better, censored information or no information?

      It depends. I'd say that usually "censored information" is the worst one, in the same way that poisoned food is even worse than no food at all.

      Keep in mind that by "censored" here one doesn't mean censored for reasons of prudishness as usually happens in America, some misguided attempt to improve the society's morals. Instead we mean the kind of censoreship that deliberate attempts to keep the people from opposing their government's tyranny, while at the
  • by Kid Zero ( 4866 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:23PM (#15892024) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure the billions they rake in will more than soothe whatever conscience they have left.

  • I always hear about China censoring the internet, the press, etc.. What kind of information do they allow?
    • by liangzai ( 837960 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:38PM (#15892113) Homepage
      Everything except the following (in decreasing severity):

      1. Some separatist propaganda and information (Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan). You will have to work hard to read epochtimes (an FLG propaganda site) in China.

      2. Some FLG information.

      3. Human rights organizations' web sites, which are concerned about points 1 and 2.

      4. Tian'anmen incident.

      5. Google is not censored, but using it triggers the cut-off mechanism all too easily (for no valid reason). I would recommend banning spiders from competing on your own site until this unfair practice is mended.

      6. A few select porn sites.

      7. BBC World News (they are pissed at the BBC for some reason).

      8. Occasionally Wikipedia, Blogspot (accessible as of today again) and other blog sites.

      Normal surfers hardly ever note the presence of the great firewall, except when Blogspot is affected. Also note that there is no blocking of P2P and other services, and that you can get any information you want if you are determined to. The firewall is aimed at preventing the masses to get hold of sensitive information regarding Chinese politics. Which in itself is stupid, since those with access to the internet already know all about it, being the educated elite.
      • You're playing right into the hands of the CCP by putting Taiwan in the same bracket as Tibet and Xinjiang, labeling them as separatist. Taiwan is an independent country in all but name. Unlike Tibet and Xinjiang, which are occupied and subjugated by the PLA, the CCP has no jurisdiction of any kind over Taiwan.
        • Taiwan has always been part of China, it is not considered an independent country by anybody but 3 or 4 countries (Costa Rica I believe is the one of them with most influence) and it was kicked out of the UN when the PRC asserted its position as the recognized Chinese goverment.

          China has no jurisdiction over Taiwan because the island managed to get the US behind them after the civil war, otherwise they would have rejoined the mainland (as they will eventually) by now.
      • And they have blocked random game companies like Paradox Interactive who potrayed China as seperate states in the war simulation computer game "Hearts of Iron" (I and II)
  • Cisco? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:23PM (#15892030)
    I feel that free speech should be an absolute, even when it's harmful. To use the old saw I think that the damage of yelling 'Fire' in a crowded theatre is far less than the damage of allowing any kind of restrictions on free speech.

    That being said, why berate Google, who's voluntarily filtering their own information, and not berate Cisco, who's designed and built a great deal of the routing equipment used by the PDRC government to filter and monitor internet traffic... the so called 'Great Firewall of China'?

    I certainly don't care for Google's actions, but I think that Cisco's are just as heinous, if not worse than Yahoo's dissident incrimination.
    • Sure! And I should be able to bear false witness against people that I don't like, to get them sent to the chair! Yay!
    • Re:Cisco? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As far as Cisco is concerned, a lot of the technology that went into monitoring and filtering came about because of the US CALEA law passed in '96 which mandated that network equipment manufacturers build those kind of capabilities into their products. In addititon, there was a similar EU standard which also called for the same thing. Western governments called for this type of technology before China did.
    • Re:Cisco? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rtb61 ( 674572 )
      The moral rules for corporations are the same as the moral rules for individuals. Corporation are afterall nothing but a sheild behind which seemingly amoral individuals can hide their petty greeds.

      No individual has the right to limit the speech of a whole country, consider the single executive responsible for that decision, their bonus, over the rights of more than a billion people to share their thoughts on freedom and democracy.

      If you don't think that is digusting or that those are the acts of a quis

    • Damage of shouting fire in a crowded theatre: people crushed to death.
      Damage of people not being allowed to shout fire: some assholes have to behave themselves.

      Anything taken to an absolute is a mistake, rights must come along with responsibilities.
  • ... any Chinese doesn't know about the censorship. Or the way to go round it, if they cared.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sorry, but it's hard to take an article seriously if the editors come up with titles like this:

    Search Engines Censured for Censorship.

    Read it aloud and try not to giggle.
  • Free speech? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by derEikopf ( 624124 )
    Of course, nevermind the rights of the companies to censor what they want. Free speech, anyone?
    • They're not saying the companies don't have that right, otherwise they'd be lobbying the government to force them not to censor. They're *criticising* them, telling people how misguided and/or amoral their actions are, which is what free speech IS all about.
  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:37PM (#15892107) Journal
    Don't you people get it? You looney libbies don't know when to stop biting the hand that feeds you, do you?

    The only reason China is able to provide us with cheap goods and cheap labor is because of their ARM policies - analog rights management.

    Look at American labor. It has become too expensive for our economy to keep growing. Do you want the Chinese people to have more freedoms and then lose their jobs like you lazy Americans do?

    [free trade parody off]
    • Re:*sigh* (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:27PM (#15892292) Homepage
      Look at American labor. It has become too expensive for our economy to keep growing. Do you want the Chinese people to have more freedoms and then lose their jobs like you lazy Americans do?
      Wait, so are you American or not? Also why are you attacking America in general and calling us lazy? I never got to vote as to whether the minimum wage was raised for not. It just was irregardless of what I thought about it. Now I have a college degree so I am skilled labor. The freakin' law doesn't even affect me. However, it does affect manufacturing of goods for sure. While I agree that minimum wage laws have gone slightly overboard, China's lack of laws are unethical. China does not help us with it's cheap goods. They hurt us with a huge trade deficit. As consumers sure we can buy crappy furniture for $30 that should cost $300. Does that make me better off?

      China is an evil regime. The people in China have very little rights and most of them do not fight that because they don't know any better. They have been taught to be patriotic to the point of not allowing free speech. People in America are patriotic all the time but the difference is that we still let the opposition gather and protest. You cannot do that in China. What is worse is that companies have no standard of pay to live up to. They can treat workers as good or bad as they like. This is not good.

      BTW, I am a conservative Christian and a Republican. Thanks for the Straw Man.
      • Make that 2 CCRs here. As in, Conservative Christian Republican.

        Sadly the GOP has left me far behind in their time warp back to 1939. I feel the same way as you do, my post was a parody of the very people you just disparaged. Trust me, the majority of elected "Republicans" and many of their voters now worship profits over God, and their cruel comments about the jobless, the poor, etc. reflect that.

        Now I wouldn't mind outsourced labor to western nations (England, France, etc.) because they abide by similar h
      • i just want to give some reactions. i don't live in the us or china.

        China's lack of laws are unethical.

        How about legalizing laws that promote the rich and the elite, isn't that the same?

        Does that make me better off?

        well isn't saving $270 good? i'll go back to the first issue, if you have the laws, why don't you have laws that promote domestic trade and avoid the big deficit?

        China is an evil regime.

        so is the usa a good regime? i just like to ask that if you mean good = legalized and not in a moral sens

    • Re:*sigh* (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wwillia99 ( 984401 )
      Your entire argument is based on the false assumption that labor policy has made Americans fat and lazy and is the reason China is such a cheap country to produce in. Labor has nothing to do with it China is cheap because China is a poor country. People will work for a couple bucks a day in China because that is the most they have ever made not because they don't have unions. And in fact Americans are not lazy productivity in the good old USA is hitting new highs every year. And companies that were just
    • biting the hand that feeds you
      Just how deep do you believe?
      Will you bite the hand that feeds?
      Will you chew until it bleeds?
      Can you get up off your knees?
      Are you brave enough to see?
      Do you want to change it?
    • The only reason China is able to provide us with cheap goods and cheap labor is because of their ARM policies - analog rights management.

      Unfortunately for them, governments that base their rule on strong-ARM policies tend not to do well....
      • With the support of corporate America, they are set to dominate the world. China owns all our debt now. Their military is catching up and they're putting men in space. Their companies will drive ours into bankruptcy with their cheaper labor, cheaper managers and cheaper CEOs. This has already happened to our automobile industry at the hands of Japan.

        So yes, strong-ARM countries do very well now. Because they've learned how to control their populace, and even suck free nations dry.
  • business vs ideals (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nitroamos ( 261075 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:40PM (#15892123)
    i guess the fundamental element in a business is that they want to make money. if the customers want some kind of ideology (whether you agree with it or not), then you'd better sell it to them. here in the US that means that they promote freedom (well, usually) of information but else where, those ideals are different.

    you can't always decouple the symbiotic relationship between what's good for business and what's good for ideals. i think corporations might want to subscribe to Doing the Right Thing (DRT), but they'll only do it when they feel that they don't lose profits (taking into account that DRT might make them popular in some markets). for example, how is the US government going to tap phone wires w/o att's cooperation? how is att going to operate at all if the government doesn't give it the foundation it requires?

    the problem that yahoo et al face is that because they are american based companies, they need to understand that american ideals relating to freedom of information are different than the ideals of the chinese government. the only way that western ideas about information will play a role in chinese (and other similar) markets, as far as profit margins are concerned, is if people who hold "western" ideals boycott these companies and thereby add some kind of "cost" to yahoo et al for them to want to censor information in china. hence reports like these.

    the other solution would be for corporations to try to up hold some kind of motto like "do no evil" and try to convince themselves and others that somehow they are in the business for *more* than just profit. however, what do you do when these goals conflict? which criteria trumps the other? history has shown time and time again that for businesses when DRT is not profitable (and it rarely is)... profits (and usually the short term variety) dictate all decision making. DRT might be profitable in the short run if it wins you publicity, but given the short attention spans of people, DRT is probably never profitable in the long run.

    and then, the nature of competition is that if you are willing to pay the monetary costs of DRT, your competitor might not be...
  • Why should we decide for another country that they should have 'free speech'?
    For that matter, what makes you think the US has free speech?

    "But, but I can say anything!!!"

    Oh, really? Try reading classified information outloud.

    "But, but that's classified!"

    OK, how about reading aloud your homemade recipe for liquid explosives? Or reading the DeCSS code to a judge?

    And how is that any different than what China is doing, really?
    Their limits may be more restrictive than ours, but we *do* have restrictions.

    We have
    • by liangzai ( 837960 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:54PM (#15892177) Homepage
      "What if some small European country put out a scathing report on how limiting
      American speech is?"

      Actually, we are a bit concerned (to say the least) about the freedom of speech in America. You are not doing too well on the freedom of press index, and having a state-run agency fine or censor nipples on TV is certainly not going to change that.

      But America is America, the self-proclaimed moral leader of the world, the country in which 60% "don't believe" in evolution and where religion is as strong as ever in Iran or other countries currently on the shit list. Therefore, it might come to no one's surprise that America will try to set the standards in both directions, for instance when they pressed Japan to have stricter laws on pornography.

      Putting a blogger in jail is not really helping the case either. Or having nearly 1% of your population in jail altogether (similar number for China is 0.2% btw).

      Sorry for bashing a fundamentally good country, I am just concerned that if America doesn't get, that if America continues on this neo-religious, neo-moralistic, neo-fascist road, we will all be fucked in the end.
    • by FreemanPatrickHenry ( 317847 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:03PM (#15892202)
      Wow. What crack smoking mod gave this Insightful?

      Your argument boils down to: The US System isn't perfect -> We have no right to judge any human rights situation. Logically, that doesn't follow. It's a question of degree: of course the US system is not perfect, and we have a record of human rights abuses in our past and present. However, the American concept of free speech is immeasurably more "correct" than China's.

      Their limits may be more restrictive than ours, but we *do* have restrictions.

      Agreed, we do have restrictions. But you're taking the whole beam/mote debate to a new level entirely. If a parent lies on occasion, does he no longer have the "right" to tell his children not to lie? Do we expect perfection out of every moral goalpost.

      Bottom line: We're never going to get perfection. We're (hopefully) going to to develop greater and greater respect for human rights. In the same way that perfect is the enemy of good, your relativistic judgment of the United States stands in the way of human rights progress in China. Just because I can't publish the DeCSS code in a newspaper doesn't imply that my country is on the same footing with one where reporters fear for their lives.

      We should not assume the American system is best and that we should force our political
      systems on others, that's how things like Iraq happen.

      It may not be the best. But we must adopt a philosophy which holds "more human rights" to be better than "less human rights," and "more free speech" to be better than "less free speech."
      • The US System isn't perfect -> We have no right to judge any human rights situation. Logically, that doesn't follow.

        Absolutely correct. Hypocrisy doesn't make you wrong, it just makes you a hypocrite.
    • Or, to go a step further:

      That EVERYONE wants to be American, so we HAVE to help them, NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY.
    • Who are we to say that China shouldn't chop up its ethnic minorities and use their corpses as mulch for agriculture? Who are we to say that Germany didn't have a right to slaughter all of those Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc?

      Oh, is the "right to life" more universal than the right to not be imprisoned or executed for speaking your mind?

      Freedom is fundamentally the right to be left alone if you are not abandoning your spouse and children and are living in peace with others' life, liberty and property. It's
  • I really, really **** it when my ****** news service is ******** with. I mean why can't I read ****** or write about **********? To top it all off I can only play *** for 3 hours max before some ******* comes to my ***** apartment and threatens to send me to **** camp. **** you Y**oo.

    -Edits by Chinese Net Monitor #3145264.
  • by omegashenron ( 942375 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:10PM (#15892228)

    Disinformation is just as bad as censorship.

    Yes although many people believe in "free speech", even in the West free speech is controlled through sedition laws etc.

    I remember one particular case where yahoo was criticised for providing information about a customer which led to his arrest - this particular person had been planning to try and overthrow the Chinese government. Don't for one second think that if the US suspected a citizen to have similar intentions, they would do the exact same as the Chinese.

    Even though the media is state owned in China, in the West, it may as well be state owned. After all, the media giants are large corporations at battle with each other and they of course bow to the government which controls ownership laws, tv licensing and regulation.

    Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and any other related groups should do more to discourage journalists from spreading lies or pushing their own agenda or publishing information without first investigating it. Until then all I can say is no news is good news.

  • This is evidence that making money in the mass-media doesn't depend on free and open expression. It's like, if you have enough variety of content, people will settle on what various media provides, like comedy, lite news, and so on, but without the insights and challenges of truly free or near-free content. Of course, multinational corporations have realized this, with expansion into China a definite momentum builder for Google, but I doubt an HRW report will hurt share prices, and most people in China can
  • Three American companies decide to operate in a foreign market. In order to comply with local laws they must change their business practises. Many Americans may not like the new business practises, but they are not breaking any US or international laws. Where is the problem?

    Should these companies decide to go back to American-style business practises, they would be breaking Chinese law and the Chinese government would be within their rights to block their sites. Would everyone rather Google, MS and Yahoo ju
    • There used to be this concept that what you can do and what you ought to do were two distinct categories. There's no law that says we must chew with our mouths closed, hold the door open for the person behind you or ever utter the phrase "Thank you", but we'd all think a little less of people who do none of these.

      The law has very little to do with what is or isn't ethical. The first aims to provide an objective means of evaluating compatibility with a stable social environment, the second is a highly-sub

    • Story? Tank-man. For the Chinese (and for, etc.), he has been erased from history and memory. Chinese students today do not know who he is. The insane slaughter of thousands of civilians that took place and the following executions of student leaders have been erased from memory. Why? Because they were demonstrating for freedom. Yahoo, MS, and "No Evil" Google are collaborators of this regime, putting down freedom harshly. Taste the weight of that last line, and if you don't like it, poin
      • So instead of having the Chinese be able to access a search engine with rather minimal restrictions run by a US company which is decently likely to not bow to every whim of the Chinese government you instead want the Chinese to only have access to a Chinese search engine run by a Chinese company which is very likely to not confront the government on issues (and who possibly fully agree with the Chinese government in what it does).
      • Not to be a pedant, but China's domain is .cn- .ch would be Switzerland (I think), and I don't think that they are involved here.
  • God, Not Again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    For all the people dis-ing the three search companies I have these questions:

    Where was you motherboard made?
    Your computer case?
    Your clothing?
    Your furniture?
    TiVo box?

    Yes, China is an oppressive government. They're occupying foreign countries just like the U.S.. You can be jailed without trial and tortured, just like the U.S. They spy on their own citizens, just like the U.S. Their politicians are corrupt, just like everyone else. Their businessmen are greedy bastards, just like everyone else.
    • They get all their money from people in foreign countries buying tons of consumer crap manufactured by cheap exploited laborers. Just like the U.S.

      Actually, we in the US don't make manufactured goods anymore. We just borrow money from nations that do.
  • I fail to understand why everyone against U.S. corporations obeying local laws in order to do business in China takes himself seriously. Get off your high horse and think about the situation before you cry wolf and drop yet another incredibly sarcastic comment about how profits relate to a business' sense of moral responsibility. Stop acting like several U.S. corporations refusing to operate in China based on human rights violations will cause serious change. Furthermore, learn a little bit about basic econ

  • I don't use Yahoo anymore - would love to use less Google as well.
  • I'm not sure for how long we intend to post news stories on this subject, but here are a few others:
    - Yahoo China has the Worst Filtering Policy []
    - Yahoo, Google 'Irresponsible' In China []
    - Tangible Impact of Censorship on Search Engines []

    I think I'm starting to get the message anyway.

    The last story had a kinda interesting link though:
    CenSEARCHip [] -- shows differences in search engine results by country in an interesting visual manner.
  • Admit it! American goverment looks like they care people about other countries, but usually they just care about the oil.(How many civilians died in Iraq?) You guys talking about other lives in other countries so leisurely because you are NOT them. If you live in Africa, you will know how much you hate American talking like this.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger