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Google-in-China:

Google has now offically announced that it has launched a new Chinese version of Google (google.cn) and that, in doing so, it has "agreed to remove certain sensitive information from our search results." You can read for yourself, in Andrew McLaughlin's posting, Google's justification for doing so (and for thereby joining Microsoft, and Yahoo!, in a kind of Hall of Complicity with China's restrictive information policies). Personally, I'm disappointed -- though reasonable people can certainly disagree about the step that Google has taken and on whether it increases, or decreases, the long-run likelihood that information will circulate more freely in China, I had hoped that at least one of the American companies clamoring for the Chinese market would have drawn a line in the sand, on principle, and proclaimed loudly and clearly that they would not cross it, and Google always seemed to be the most likely candidate for that. A net loss (pun intended), I think, for free expression.

Greedy Clerk (mail):
When conservatives start taking seriously that many American corporations are complicit in certain human rights abuses in the third world, e.g., sweat shops, slave labor, etc., I will take this concern seriously. To me, it seems like this current cause celebre of the conservative blogosphere is really just patting each other on the back for taking a stand.

For what it's worth, I think in the long run engagement by US corporations in the third world will raise living standards there and eventually have a good effect on human rights, free speech, etc. I guess that position would have been considered the "conserative" position not long ago. Now, however, with "conservatives" endorsing an odd utopian foreign policy (reminiscent of communism where many neo-cons first found their passion) where the US is on a mission to democratize the world, who knows what the "conservative" position on this is?
2.1.2006 5:00pm
CEB:
Much of the criticism of Google's action seemes to be based on the notion that Google had the choice of either offering a government-approved (restricted) version of Google to the Chinese people or a non-government-approved (i.e. unrestricted) version and evilly chose the former. It seems clear to me that the real choice was either a government-approved version or nothing. The perfect can be the enemy of the good, and the people of China now have a pretty good, if far-from-perfect, resource. I suspect that liberals are hollering because they typically advocate revolution rather than incremental change, but we should all be optimistic about this small step toward openness.
2.1.2006 5:05pm
TomMH (mail):
A search for 'Tiananmen':

U.S. Google:
http://images.google.com/images?q=tiananmen

China Google:
http://images.google.cn/images?q=tiananmen

p.s. - I stole this idea from Liberty Belles.
2.1.2006 5:21pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
All the SOTU words about Democracy and Freedom, I don't recall China or Russia getting a mention in that context. Not to imply Russia is as bad as China, but it seems to be heading down that path.
2.1.2006 5:26pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
All the SOTU words about Democracy and Freedom, I don't recall China or Russia getting a mention in that context. Not to imply Russia is as bad as China, but it seems to be heading down that path.
2.1.2006 5:26pm
J..:

A search for 'Tiananmen':

Oddly enough, if you misspell it some of the tank images still appear: Link.
2.1.2006 5:29pm
Medis:
If it is any consolation, it would appear that even the US government does not know how effective any such filters would be (at least assuming that China has the equivalent of our tech-savvy-porn-loving children).
2.1.2006 5:45pm
VC Reader:
For those interested, here is Google's statement to Congress: Human Rights Caucus briefing.
2.1.2006 6:17pm
Cabbage:
For those asking whether it would be better to have no google rather than the censored google, are you factoring into your calculous that the results of the censored search are inherently dishonest? I read an article that mentioned that a search Falun Gong brings up only links to government condemnations of the sect.

What's worse, that a person can't run a search or that they run a search and the result is intentionally misleading.

Finally, in agreeing to locate their servers on Chinese soil, Google is effectively giving the Chinese government access to the searches of each and every Chinese person, not to mention the site such a person ultimately clicks through to. How many people will be imprisoned and/or ultimately killed as a result of this monitoring?

Do no evil?
2.1.2006 6:37pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
I suspect that liberals are hollering

Uhh, it's the conservatives hollering about this. Go read up on the issue before posting something ignorant like that.

2.1.2006 7:11pm
Jeremy Mendenhall (mail) (www):
Hmm... very interesting... I'm not sure what I think is correct either, Greedy Clerk. Certainly there is that part of each of us that "wants" the Chinese people to access ALL that is available... And yet, from the Google Business standpoint (purely fiscal and prestige) how can we say they did the wrong thing?

Jeremy Mendenhall
victorytutorials.com
2.1.2006 7:38pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Try this one:

http://images.google.com/images?q=tiananmen site:.cn

Its the same as the google.cn search

You can use the site parameter on any searh. E.g. "site:volokh.com", will limit the search to this estimable venue.

Google.cn is merely a domain limited search. Chinese users who can access Google.com will still be able to get global search results. The real issue is whether the chinese government can block access to the international .com domain.
2.1.2006 8:43pm
lawhawk (mail) (www):
And it's not just Google, but Microsoft is entering the fray as well, as per this NYT article.
2.1.2006 8:48pm
david (mail):
I'm wondering how "Don't be evil" translates into Chinese.
2.1.2006 8:49pm
ashok (mail) (www):
This is off-topic, but I was using Google Adsense once upon a time, and I found this in the Terms &Conditions:

[You will not] engage in any action or practice that reflects poorly on Google or otherwise disparages or devalues Google's reputation or goodwill.

Now I understand that if I'm employed by someone, they can set a ton of limits on what I can say. But contracting with someone to post their ads?

I dunno. Is this draconian clause legal? Anyone?
2.2.2006 4:44am
Doc (mail):
"You can read for yourself" - IF you're not in China. 'Cause Blogspot is blocked here.

As of right now, I can still access Google.com (in English, and in Chinese).
2.2.2006 6:16am
CEB:
Greedy Clerk:
Criticism of Google has come from both liberals and conservatives. I was simply mentioning a specific reason that liberals might have, which I believe is mistaken. Please read the guidelines below before posting something unnecessarily rude like that.
2.2.2006 9:51am
Joshua:
david wrote:
I'm wondering how "Don't be evil" translates into Chinese.


Or how about the name Google itself? Coca-Cola supposedly translates as "bite the wax tadpole." I move that if Google turns out to have a similar humorous Chinese translation, then that's what it should be called from now on, not just on VC but all across the blogosphere.
2.2.2006 2:19pm
TomH (mail):
Just as a devil's advocate, I don;t agree with Chinese government censorship practices, but it is the law there. What if Google was in the practice of violating various US laws? Such as something that makes us less "secure from the terrorists" or disregarding the FBI demnds for its records. I am sure we would demand Google obey the law then.
2.2.2006 5:17pm
Conrad (mail):
I have lived in China. I loath the CCP and Chinese government. When I was blogging, I frequently and strongly condemned Beijing's censorship and authoritarianism.

Having said that, Google is getting an unfair rap here.

1. Google owes a duty to its shareholders, who would likely be injured were Google to enter the world's fastest growing and largest potential market.

2. China owes no duty whatsoever to Chinese internet users, who are not even its customers (advertisers are).

3. Unlike Microsoft, Yahoo or any of the Chinese search engines, Google's China based site includes a disclaimer informing the user when search result have been excluded due to government rules.

4. Google will continue to maintain an offshore Chinese language site for that is not subject to any censorship. Users in China can continue access this site and can even avoid the "Great Firewall" through use of proxy servers.

5. Unlike Microsoft and Yahhoo, Google is not offering either e-mail or blog hosting over its China baser servers because it cannot protect such users privacy from government information requests.

Refusing to enter China threatens to hurt the interests of Google's shareholders (to whom it does owe a duty) while offering nothing to Chinese internet users (to whom it does not). While entering China may benefit Google shareholders while depriving Chinese internet users of nothing they don't already have and, at the least, providing them with notification when their search results have been censored (which they don't now have).
2.3.2006 1:56am