Google Takes A Stand For Free Speech, Won't Censor China Search Results

Google Takes A Stand For Free Speech, Won't Censor China Search Results

Stating that things "just got real" wouldn't even begin to do this situation justice. Google, which has maintained a Chinese search portal (Google.cn) since 2006, has just upended the nation's stronghold on content, and while it remains to be seen if any other search engines will follow suit, there's no denying that serious attention is now being given to a matter that has remained in the shadows for far too long.

After a "targeted attack" on Google's corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property, the search giant began to think long and hard about its relationship with the country. Google also maintains offices in China, and it has stated that the employees there have worked extremely hard to make Google.cn a real success. This attack, however, began to change things. Google began to look into the matter, and it soon realized that these attacks were made on those who support human rights and free speech within China.

Today, Google is a powerhouse. It's not a second-tier company; it's a world-class company with clout for days. So much clout, in fact, that Google has just made public its decision to cease the censoring of content from Chinese searches. The company has decided that the time has come to put an end to the censorship that has lived on within China's Internet walls, and Google fully understands that this move may make working in China impossible. Executives plans on meeting with Chinese leaders soon to hammer out a new plan, but of course if one cannot be reached, Google will reportedly pull right out of the nation. We sincerely hope this bold move encourages others to take similar stands for free speech, but only time will tell if Google has a bandwagon backing it or just its own faith. A portion of the statement is below:



We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.

We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, 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 Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

0
+ -

Way to go Google! How often do you see corporations operate with a moral compass?

Stark contrast to news that bank execs were set to receive record bonuses this year.

0
+ -

Also, it's important to note that this is great PR for Google, both in America and other freedom minded world citizens.

I do hope other search engines follow suit and force China to either change policies or risk being left behind.

0
+ -

yea, good job google! Stick it to the man! lol

Wait... google is becoming the man lol

Hopefully google doesn't let their power go to their head any time soon :-)

0
+ -

Agreed, I'd rather not have another microsoft anytime soon.

Also, this is an important excerpt from Google's letter:

"We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today."

I think it pretty much sums up the conditions in China.

0
+ -

I wonder what kind of backlash those employees are going to see?

This move will have the opposite effect that google was probably hoping for if something bad happens to those employees. It's a risky move, but it's nice to see they are actually trying to do something for their people's rights. Little as it may be.

0
+ -

That's the tragic thing isn't it, that google had to claim full culpability. For their China employees, the backlash might include intimidation, but hopefully not prison time.

0
+ -

The fact is that the US CEOs probably just got all of the Google China employees fired, since the Chinese government won't let them run the search site without the censoring in place.

Hopefully Google will be nice enough to let them keep their jobs and move them to Taiwan or back to the US.

0
+ -

Is it just me or do spaces in the main articles just disappear randomly? It happens on most of the articles, but not on anyones comments.

0
+ -

what browser are you using?

0
+ -

As far as not wanting another Microsoft/Apple in the market I think you already lost that. Google operates on a different spectrum really and is about communications (which apple has their hands in already on the I-phone, upcoming tablet device, and of course the Touch) Microsoft is M$ and they have their hands in everything with concentration being on software. Google will be the next if not the current big player on this business model as I said just on a differing spectrum of the IT market.

0
+ -

@rapid1 Yeah, I guess you're right. But as opposed to Microsoft which is completely corporatized, Google's direction is still largely being managed by its founders.

Can you ever imagine Microsoft doing Google Books, or Google Phone free of charge?

0
+ -

Google seems like a much more down to earth company tho. You know microsoft is after your money with almost everything they do. At least google is trying to do good for the IT world.

0
+ -

Either way big props to Google for making a stand on this issue as I think it is the right one for sure. I would liken it to the net neutrality thing going on in the US now. Although this country is nothing compared to China on the ruling over information, I do believe the net should be open and free for the transformation of any information of any type as long as it is not done in pure malice, and or for violent reasons.

0
+ -

Here Here!

0
+ -

Doing what most of the US economy can't... saying no to Chinese  $$$

0
+ -

Der you hit the nail on the head, they rather leave with their head up. the fun part they have started a whole thing. because maybe yahoo and the others may do the same.

Remember leader lead the rest follow :)

0
+ -

That wouldn't be such a bad thing, as long as they give credit where it's due! Google did it first.

Wouldn't be surprised if MS does it too and then goes on to announce it to the world and take all the glory lol

0
+ -

Well it seems that the biggest losers of Google departure will be...well Chinese.

Just finished reading a good article on NY Time about this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/17/world/asia/17china.html

"Interviews in Beijing’s downtown and university district indicated that many viewed the possible loss of Google’s maps, translation service, sketching software, access to scholarly papers and search function with real distress."

I can't imagine a world without google.com. Even though I'm sure I'd acclimate within a few weeks, but not having so many services such as maps, docs, scholar, product search, image in one place is going to eat up a lot more of my time.

"By publicly challenging China’s censorship, Google has stirred up the debate over the government’s claim that constraints on free speech are crucial to political stability and the prosperity that has accompanied it. Even if it is unlikely to pose any immediate threat to the Communist Party, Google’s move has clearly discomfited the government, Chinese analysts say."

0
+ -

Well being that the Chinese government is basically the last left at least of large government's which support the communist doctrine. I mean Russia is still recognized for it, but in many ways they have stepped far away from the fundamentals of it in all reality. They may still even used it for recognition, but don't really seem to support the full doctrine of it any way.

0
+ -

Indeed and China does have a very strong hold on its population. I'm surprised a corrupt Communist regime has functioned as well as it has. Just goes to show you the enormous labor and talent resources of China.

0
+ -

Censorship of its people does seem like a horrible thing to most of us . Don't forget that this IS a communist country with a very different set of social beliefs. I am not condoning this, but china is not alone on this matter either and every part of the world is different.

0
+ -

If they do pull out of China, I won't miss it. Every time I used Google.cn to search, the results always included something about lead.

0
+ -

The Chinese still have Baidu.com which has the overwhelming share of the searches in China. Google.cn was a distant second, though it was the more popular option amongst college students and professors.

0
+ -

Baidu will still be the leader, and I'm sure there will be people jumping at the change to fill the space that the google apps leave, but I doubt MS would ever leave China, they make too much cash from their government I think, MS would probably start promoting stuff like it's passport & silverlight heavily to pick up users dropped by google.

While I don't believe in censorship of any kind, I can see where the world gets the view of "arrogant American" (and lesser extent westerner) from this sort of thing. If China were smart they'd be crying about Google not caring about their society and how the "americans" want to bully them into changing their national policies. That would at the very least get our congress and government to back off really quickly, if not get them support from other asian/middle eastern countries.

Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: