Posts tagged “Censorship” ->

Yesterday Google began redirecting requests for to effectively ending its years of self-censorship in China. To be clear, Google has not ended censorship in China — Google has ended its own self-censorship.

While searches within the .hk google are not censored by Google, they will still be affected by China’s keyword filtering. This means that queries for certain terms will not get through to search engine and the end user in China will not get any results.

Even if a user in China uses search queries that are not filtered by China and retrieves results from google’s .hk version, they will still be affected by China’s filtering if they click on the link and try and view those results directly.

What’s the difference? Users in China will be affected by China’s filtering, not Google’s. The difference is in the user’s experience — instead of retrieving results and carrying on as if censorship did not exist (disclaimer aside), the user now experiences the censorship first hand.

It is true that the user will not get any results from Google for queries that are filtered by China. this may results in quantitatively less information, but necessarily qualitatively (see here and here). Even if a controversial site slipped through the self-censorship, it would be picked up by China’s filtering if the user tried to access it directly.

The move removes Google from an ethically challenged situation and has raised awareness globally regarding China’s censorship practices.

Remember: Microsoft and Yahoo! are still censoring their China facing search engines.

Decrypting the Google statement

There have been many articles saying that Google is pulling out China. Well, that’s not exactly what Google said.

Here is exactly what Google stated:

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

Google is not leaving China. At least not yet.

Look at what was actually said:

1) Google is not willing want to censor, so Google will 2) engage in discussion with the Chinese government and, 3) in order to operate an uncensored search engine within the law.

Law is the key word here. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Wu, stated:

China welcomes international Internet companies to conduct business within the country according to law

The question is, what law says that Google cannot index the web site of the BBC news? Anyone know?

In 2006 when Google started censoring in China I asked:

What specific law or court order is being complied with in China?

It is 2010, still no answer.

I think it is a reasonable question for Google to ask.