17 May 2007

China vs. Google

From a blog in China >>>

"Controversy has occurred over Google's decision to adhere to the Internet censorship policy in mainland China, colloquially known as, "The Great Firewall of China". Google.cn search results are filtered so as not to bring up any results concerning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, sites supporting the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan or the Falun GongPeople's Republic of China. This is interpreted by some activists as against the "Don't Be Evil" corporate philosophy of Google. movement, and other information perceived to be harmful to the

The People's Republic of China (PRC), whose human rights have been criticized by people in both China and the international community, has in the past restricted citizen access to popular search engines such as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google. The mirror search site elgooG has been used by users in mainland China to get around blocked content. This complete ban has since been lifted. However, the government remains active in filtering Internet content. In October 2005, Blogger and access to the Google Cache were made available in mainland China; however, in December 2005, some mainland Chinese users of Blogger reported that their access to the site was once again restricted.

In January 2006, Google affirmed its intent to filter certain keywords given to it by the government of the PRC. The restrictions will apply to thousands of terms and websites.[2] The censored content will appear on a website called google.cn. Google was heavily criticized for the move, yet it claims it is necessary to keep the PRC government from blocking Google entirely. The company does not plan to give the government information about the users who search for blocked content, and will inform users of restricted categories.[3] Google states on its help pages that it does not censor content, but it does block pages as demanded for in certain jurisdictions, such as DMCA requests in the United States.

Most Chinese Internet users did not express much concern about Google's choice, with one blogger saying that censorship is a fact of life in China and Google could not have done any better.[4][5] Also, Google offers to Chinese internet users a choice that protects their privacy better than existing search engines available in China, since Google keeps confidential records of its users outside China, unlike domestic search engines that could be compelled by the government to hand over information at any time.[6] The following message appears at the bottom of the Google search result page whenever results are blocked: "In accordance with local laws and policies, some of the results have not been displayed." Currently, Google is the only major China-based search engine to explicitly inform the user when search results are blocked or hidden.

On the other hand, Google has been accused of hypocrisy for agreeing to China's demands and fighting the US government's requests for information concerning Google-users, by groups such as Reporters Without Borders[1]. Critics say that Google had made a great deal of its mission statement, in that it was different from other "evil" internet corporations, to gain support when it started.

On February 5, 2006, google.com was banned by China Telecom in an attempt to force users of Google toward the google.cn domain, however the ban was lifted shortly thereafter.

On February 14, 2006, some internet users participated in a "mass breakup with Google" whereby users agreed to boycott Google on Valentine's day to show their disapproval of the Google China policy.[7][8]

A simple test can be performed to quantify the number of pages which google.cn censors as compared to those listed in google.com. Search using this string to compare the approximate dot-com index differential: site:.com Other top level domains can be compared similarly (.org, .cn, etc.). Searches for essential html tags, such as returns the difference for all domains."

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