Google <3 gov.cn (and technodoggerel)

In today's IT Blogwatch, we look at Google's kowtow -- or should that be "doing business"? Not to mention a poem about technology...

What's this we hear? Google kowtowing to government pressure -- not the US but the Chinese government (as we blogged earlier, Google had a spat with the Feds, because they were asked to hand over some search data). Try this

rant

lengthy and informative post from Danny Sullivan: "Oh, the irony ... They've agreed to impose censorship on the Google China service ... Google is stepping in to do the censorship directly, rather than the Chinese government doing it ... It's flat out saying that the Chinese government wants it to do censoring in news search, web search and other areas and that Google will comply ... Google's complying for better access to the Chinese market, including being able to base servers in China and have access sped up ... However, companies do have to follow the laws of the countries they operate in ... For those in the US and elsewhere to say Google shouldn't follow Chinese laws is hypocritical if they are not forcefully demanding that Google not follow other laws ... To avoid this hypocrisy, I'd like everyone upset about the Google move in China to also start protesting that the governments of France and Germany should not require Google to remove Nazi or hate sites ... what about the entire hypocrisy of not bending to US law but doing so with China?"

» Anders Bylund add his 2¢: "Today, the search giant's squeaky clean image faces a serious challenge, as the company announced a revamped Chinese search site, which openly complies with Chinese government censorship. The old, uncensored version reportedly ran slowly, allegedly due to interference from the Great Firewall of China ... Now, such searches will only return results approved by the Chinese government, so that a search for Tiananmen Square will only point to sites supporting the government-approved position ... International free speech advocates Reporters Without Borders (RWB) reacted strongly to the news ... the company is bending and twisting the language of its own mission statement in an effort to make it look like going into the Chinese market is the Right Thing To Do™, even under heavy censorship."

» James Fitzhenry: "Maybe I'm just on edge. I mean with the government gobbling up Google records and major multinationals becoming extensions of Communist China's government by censoring human rights activists to earn a buck, what do we have to worry about? Wouldn't that be the irony? Unprecedented access to knowledge and information and all we care about is who made the American Idol cut." [Your humble blogwatcher would like to take this opportunity to once again apologize for Simon Cowell]

» Mathew Ingram: "The service will also not have Google e-mail or blogs. This isn't terribly surprising, given some of the activity by Google and other tech giants when it comes to China -- such as the shutting down of a noted dissident's blog by Microsoft's MSN, and the identification of another dissident (who was later arrested) by Yahoo. And Google has been accused of at least helping to filter results before, including in this Harvard study. It's obvious that companies such as Google see such activity as part of the cost of doing business in a country like China, and no doubt they would make the argument that if they didn't comply then someone else would. It's still a sad development, however, and it certainly throws into sharp relief how the search company's 'don't be evil' mantra can be modified when necessary to fit the needs of the business."

» Faeriebell: "Censoring topics that are considered "subversive" to your government's reign of control, in an vain attempt to control the Chinese people's thoughts and feelings, well that's just evil. Google really should drop their 'Do no evil' slogan because that's all they've been doing since they went public. I am sorry that the Chinese people continue to be oppressed by their government and now have all major search engines aiding in that oppression. Shame on you all."

» MaKina: "Sooner or later, though, Google will encounter a stark choice between money and morals if it keeps doing business in China. The same will be true in many other countries whose governments don't believe their citizens deserve unfettered access to information. Only by abandoning the first blush of youthful certainty will Google be able to tiptoe through this minefield. I hope Brin and Page, who retain tight control over Google, have the wisdom to distinguish between doing the best job possible and doing only the right thing."

» DrEldarion: "Google has financial guns, which in many ways can be far more powerful than physical ones ... who knows -- maybe the 'your results are being censored' text will wake some people up to the truth when they would have just remained clueless using another search engine."

» Brian Snyder raises an interesting final point: "Google had no problem taking a stand against the US government ... Why didn't they stand up to China? The answer is easy. It's probably very hard to find a Chinese lawyer who will stand up to Beijing. I wonder why that is..."

» Prof. Hunter has some fun with the Google logo, and comes to the following conclusions: "So far it would seem that 'The Great FireWall of China' is having the effect that Chinese government wants: to block objectionable, outside information from coming in. Two other things seem apparent. First and foremost, the Chinese government needs outside help to keep that firewall, or filter, in working order. Secondly, there are clearly plenty of companies willing to do the work. And so long as this state of affairs continues, I think the Chinese can and will exercise tight control over that part of the internet that they deem objectionable."

Buffer overflow:

And finally...  A poem about technology -- ooops, that should be "James S. Huggins' poem about technology" apparently [You're fired - Ed.]

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk. Also contributing to today's post: Judi Dey, our very own Antipodean [happy Australia Day, Judi].

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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