Google stops censoring itself for China

Google may have stopped being evil, deciding to stop kow-towing to  still-Communist China’s demands that it block searches on forbidden topics, such as “Tiananminh Square” and “Tibet.”  Why?  Google is responding to what appears to be a Chinese attempt to hack into its operations and steal its technology:

Google Inc., following through on a pledge to stop censoring search results in China, began serving mainland Chinese users via its unfiltered Hong Kong site, a move that could prompt the government to block the service.

The company began redirecting traffic from its Google.cn site to Hong Kong, a part of the country that isn’t subject to censorship laws. The move, which escalates a two- month dispute with the government over censorship, was “totally wrong,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

By relying on Hong Kong, Google is trying to find a way to fight censorship laws while still keeping a presence in mainland China. The approach may not work for long because the government will probably block the site, called Google.com.hk, just as it has before with the main Google.com page, said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech Inc. in San Francisco.

“It’s very likely that Google.com.hk will be blocked at least as aggressively as Google.com was and, more likely, probably more aggressively,” he said.

The company challenged the government of the world’s most populous country in January by threatening to allow all search results to be shown on its China Web site, including references to Tibet and the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Google has about 600 employees in the country. Google.cn included the search engine, Google News and Google Images.

“The Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement,” Google said in a blog post. “We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced — it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.”

Google fell $2.50 to $557.50 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have declined 10 percent this year. . . .

Google, the world’s top search engine, threatened to stop censoring content after reporting that its computers had been hacked from within China. The company said its systems were targeted by “highly sophisticated” attacks aimed at obtaining proprietary information, as well as personal data belonging to human-rights activists who use the company’s Gmail e-mail service.

The Chinese government denied that it was involved in the attacks, Xinhua reported.

At least 20 other international companies in technology, finance and chemicals were similarly targeted, Google said at the time.

“We also made clear that these attacks and the surveillance they uncovered — combined with attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the Web in China including the persistent blocking of Web sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger — had led us to conclude that we could no longer continue censoring our results on google.cn,” Google said on the blog.

via Google Stops Censorship, Making Block by China Likely (Update1) – BusinessWeek.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    “Google may have stopped being evil”

    very good play on their motto.

  • Joe

    “Google may have stopped being evil”

    very good play on their motto.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Good for Google, but they are going to get blocked. But so be it. More of our tech companies should consider pulling out of China rather than bowing to their demands, in particular to turn over patents.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Good for Google, but they are going to get blocked. But so be it. More of our tech companies should consider pulling out of China rather than bowing to their demands, in particular to turn over patents.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think this is good news, but, as always, there’s a bit of a caveat.

    As opposed to here in the US, where Google is the dominant search engine, in China it is quite definitely in 2nd (hard to say by how much, but the leading search engine, Baidu, probably gets 50-70% of the traffic). Also, there’s the fact that Google had no problem self-censoring before this event occurred.

    I’m glad that this security breach caused them to rethink their approach, but I have to wonder if ultimately the decision hinges more on the fact that they had relatively little to lose in that market, but a whole lot of good PR to gain for going up against the Evil Censorship Empire.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think this is good news, but, as always, there’s a bit of a caveat.

    As opposed to here in the US, where Google is the dominant search engine, in China it is quite definitely in 2nd (hard to say by how much, but the leading search engine, Baidu, probably gets 50-70% of the traffic). Also, there’s the fact that Google had no problem self-censoring before this event occurred.

    I’m glad that this security breach caused them to rethink their approach, but I have to wonder if ultimately the decision hinges more on the fact that they had relatively little to lose in that market, but a whole lot of good PR to gain for going up against the Evil Censorship Empire.

  • Joe

    tODD – what search engine to you use? I’m just curious and looking for a good alternative to google.

  • Joe

    tODD – what search engine to you use? I’m just curious and looking for a good alternative to google.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, I use Google. There’s a lot I think they do right, technically.

    Doesn’t mean that I think they only operate on principle, though.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, I use Google. There’s a lot I think they do right, technically.

    Doesn’t mean that I think they only operate on principle, though.


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