Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

First an essay on the subject by one of the philosophers I respect the most, Peter SingerThe unknown promise of Internet freedom – “Nevertheless, the more important point is that Google is no longer lending its imprimatur to political censorship. Predictably, some accuse Google of seeking to impose its own values on a foreign culture. Nonsense. Google is entitled to choose how and with whom it does business. One could just as easily assert that during the period in which Google filtered its results in China, China was imposing its values on Google.

Google’s withdrawal is a decision in accordance with its own values. In my view, those values are more defensible than the values that lead to political censorship – and who knows how many Chinese would endorse the value of open access to information, too, if they had the chance?”

And here is the incident in China referenced in the essay – Chinese official’s threat to report ignites furor – “Infuriated that the reporter would even ask about the case — in which a waitress at a karaoke bar killed a government official in self-defense — he threatened to go to her boss, seized her audio recorder and marched off, according to reports of the encounter.

But instead of fizzling out, the March 7 episode has blossomed into a cause célèbre for free-press advocates in China. In a rare display of unity, journalists, lawyers, academics and activists posted a letter of protest on the Internet demanding the governor’s resignation.”

Here is the recent news summary of Google and China:

  • Google shuts China site in dispute over censorship – “Just over two months after threatening to leave China because of censorship and intrusions from hackers, Google on Monday closed its Internet search service there and began directing users in that country to its uncensored search engine in Hong Kong… Some Western analysts say Chinese regulators could retaliate against Google by blocking its Hong Kong or American search engines entirely, just as it blocks YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.”
  • Google or China: Who has more to lose? – Ai Weiwei – “Unlike most companies, which will do whatever it takes to make a profit or gain market share, Google has set a different example. It has shown that it values decency and integrity, even when that means standing up to the Chinese government. Google deserves tremendous respect for acting to protect users’ privacy and security and upholding the ideals of freedom of information and exchange. The Chinese government has always been arrogant in dealing with protests of any kind when it comes to censorship or judicial reform. Google’s departure now teaches millions of people how much is at stake.”
  • Google and China – NYT Op Ed – “Google’s decision to stop censoring its search service in China on Monday was a principled and brave move, a belated acknowledgment that Internet companies cannot enable a government’s censorship without becoming a de facto accomplice to repression. We hope that other American companies with operations in China, notably Microsoft and Yahoo, will consider emulating Google’s decision.”
  • What happens as Google uncensors search in China? – “Nancy Liu, 22, a journalism student at a Beijing university, said that her classmates were sending messages on the Chinese social-networking site Renren approving of Google’s decision to continue to provide services in China. ‘‘They wrote sentences about this like, ‘Google is really a man,’ ’’ she said. Such comments were often deleted within minutes of posting, according to Ms. Liu. The Chinese government has a history of shutting down Internet companies that allow politically dangerous content to be posted on their sites, effectively mandating industrywide self-censorship. Fanfou.com, a burgeoning Twitter clone, was yanked offline for insufficient censorship last year, as was Yeeyan.com, which translates foreign news articles.”
  • Google in Hong Kong makes little dent in China – “Comments on social networking sites that are supportive of Google “will be deleted in a couple of seconds,” said Oiwan Lam, 38, an independent journalist and researcher who is an expert on Chinese independent media. The China Digital Times reported that the Chinese State Council Information Office had ordered all news sites to “carefully manage the information in exchanges, comments and other interactive sessions” and “clean up text, images and sound and videos which support Google, dedicate flowers to Google, ask Google to stay, cheer for Google and others that have a different tune from government policy.””
  • Stance by China to limit Google is risk by Beijing – “But China also does not acknowledge to its own people that it censors the Internet to exclude a wide range of political and social topics that its leaders believe could lead to instability. It does not release information on the number of censors it employs or the technology it uses for the world’s most sophisticated Internet firewall. Its 350 million Internet users, many with fast broadband connections, are assured they have the same effectively limitless access to information and communications that the rest of the world enjoys. Google publicly challenged that stance in January, and reinforced its ideological opposition to China’s policies by finally pulling the plug on its mainland search engine after a failed round of talks with Chinese officials. That forced Chinese leaders to defend their control of the Web, which they did partly with an outburst of nationalism and vitriol.”
  • Google searches for a foreign policy – “For Internet companies, that choice has been sharpened by the fact that the World Wide Web is no longer just a force for freedom and diversity but also a tool for repression. Governments use it to spy on dissidents, human rights activists, and other troublesome elements. This change happened so fast that it left the foreign policy establishment gasping to catch up. It also exposed Washington’s deep ambivalence about information technology: while it champions the free flow of ideas in closed societies like Iran, it fears being a target for cyber-attacks by hostile governments and doesn’t want to export technology that could be diverted into military uses. Conflicted and confused, Foggy Bottom has little to offer Silicon Valley by way of support or even guidance.”
  • Google alerts Gmail users to suspicious logins – “Google has introduced a new security feature that alerts Gmail users whose e-mail accounts may have been broken into by a malicious intruder and helps them regain full control. In a blog post Wednesday, Google said that if it sees unusual account activity, like an uncharacteristic login from a computer with a suspicious I.P. address in Poland, it will show a warning in a red bar at the top of the page. Users will be able to click to get more information, or hit “Ignore” if they were, indeed, in Poland and nothing is wrong.”
  • Google official calls for action on Internet restrictions – “Ms. Jones described a chaotic scene for Internet companies in China. She said attacks from hackers were rampant, fraudulent payments were common, and spammers worked without fear of punishment from the government. Representative David Wu, Democrat of Oregon, said he thought more companies would follow the example of Go Daddy and Google and cut back operations in China. “Pretty soon you have a cascade going,” Mr. Wu said. “There is a difference between compliance and complicity.””
  • Google gets little US corporate support in Internet fight with China – “Google is using Internet freedom as a rallying cry in its confrontation with China. But the deafening silence from U.S. corporations underscores how increasingly isolated Google looks in its hope to rewrite the rules in the country with the biggest number of Internet users. Only GoDaddy.com, the Internet domain name and Web host company, immediately followed Google’s lead in protesting Chinese policies. It said that it would no longer register domain names in China because of new rules requiring it to collect customers’ photos. The action by GoDaddy, which has not been known in the past for taking a strong stance on Internet freedom, contrasts sharply with the modest responses from other companies.”
  • Dell and Go Daddy threaten to follow Google out of China
  • Google stops censoring in China, creates “China dashboard” – “They have also created a new dashboard page, where the whole world (or human rights activists) can see at a glance which Google services are being blocked by China at any given day. Gutsy indeed. I don’t know about you guys, but this move wins Google major points in my mind. I am all for free speech, and I think it’s rare for a company to put its money where its mouth is. Kudos.”
  • China to Google: Nyah nyah nyah! – “From groundlessly accusing the Chinese government of supporting hacker attack against it to pushing China abandon the legal regulations on the Internet by threatening to withdraw from the Chinese market, many facts have shown that Google is politicalizing itself.  Google, as the world’s largest search engine, should understand an internationally accepted rule as well as other enterprises, if not better, that no matter in which country you conduct business, you have to obey the laws and regulations there.” – sigh…
  • Google partners call for clarity on China plans – “A letter purportedly from 27 Google-authorised sales representative companies says the wait has gone on for too long, eroding their business, scaring off employees and putting big investments in jeopardy.”
  • Of course, like so much else concerning the Chinese government, the letter appears to be fake – Letter from Chinese ad sellers to Google appears fake – “A letter demanding that Google compensate advertising agents if it withdrew from China probably is not genuine, said a sales official at one of the companies named as a signatory. The letter, published Tuesday on the Web site of the state-run China Central Television and received by Google, is “likely a fake,” said Gao Min, who is in charge of Google ad sales at Beijing Zoom Interactive Media.”
  • Chinese media pans google and alleges US intelligence links – “Chinese media unleashed a torrent of criticism against Google on Saturday after reports it would leave the country, with Xinhua news agency alleging that the company was linked to US intelligence.”
  • Google details ‘new approach to China’
  • Interview: Sergey Brin on Google’s China move

Bonus: Aside from the usual (Tiananmen, Taiwan, Tibet), what else is being censored?  What Chinese censors don’t want you to know – “For the “poisonous cowpea incident” in Hainan, only use news articles from the Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily and the official Hainan media. [Cowpeas from Hainan Province were found to be contaminated with a toxic pesticide, setting off criticism about why the cowpeas were sold to other provinces.]”


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