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Google Agrees to Censor Encyclopedia Dramatica Entry in Australia  (View post)

Stephany Lowe [PersonRank 0]

Sunday, January 17, 2010
9 years ago9,417 views

Google has a soft spot for "political correctness" aka censorship

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Interestingly enough, The politically-correct Sydney Morning Herald identifies the complainant as "aboriginal". Unless that the standard practice Down Under, why isn't the plaintiff merely a fellow Australian (if descriptor needed at all)?

> "Aboriginal man Steve Hodder-Watt..."

James [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

Ianf: It's relevant to the article, so it was mentioned.

Interestingly, I'm no longer seeing the notice on google.com.au search results, but the page isn't visible in google.com search results either – perhaps because it's been given page rank 0?

James [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

Ah, the notice is gone from [aboriginal encyclopedia] but is still there for [aboriginal encyclopedia dramatica]. Hilariously, the article is still in the google.com.au results thanks to a MediaWiki redirect.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

James, that's odd. Now when searching for [Aboriginal and Encyclopedia] on Google Australia I can see no censorship disclaimer at the bottom anymore, and the page also doesn't appear listed. However, it's also gone from google.com for the same query, which would without further evidence would suggest that somehow Google's algos don't consider it relevant anymore (which would be an interesting timing in regards to this story, though search result fluctuations do happen).

However, I find it equally odd that when I search for [aboriginal encyclopedia dramatica], the first top 3 results are all from Encyclopedia Dramatic, like the top result encyclopediadramatica.com/Abbos – and yet, at the bottom, it says "In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 4 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at ChillingEffects.org" (the link goes to chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi ...). That's 4 pages Google says they removed for this particular result, not just 1 anymore, and yet the Encyclopedia Dramatica pages remain visible. Does anyone have an explanation? Like, what exactly is removed here?

ahab [PersonRank 5]

9 years ago #

We need another Hugo Grotius to be the advocate of an 'Internet Liberum'.

The arguments the denoted the sea as free to all still could apply to the internet.

That such will bring undesired results to our search queries should be accepted – legal action should be taken to those being offensive, not to to the search machines; that would just be another example of kill the messenger.

see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mare_Lib ...

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

James, why should it be relevant in this context... because only aboriginals get to complain about being satirized (however misguided it might be), or else the item isn't news-worthy?

Torrey Hoffman [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

Stephany, Google does not have a soft spot for censorship. How can you say that? Surely the recent events in China have shown that?

Google obeys the law. They also try to get bad laws changed. What more could you possibly expect them to do? Please explain!

If you're going to start accusing Google, first you need to accuse (for example) every web hosting company in Australia and China and France and Germany and England and Canada and even the USA. Every one of those countries has laws against putting certain things on line, and no law abiding web hosting company will break those laws because to do so will get the directors of the company in serious legal trouble. And that's just a start.

Google contributes a lot to keeping free speech alive on the internet, not just through running a search engine with minimal censorship, but also through significant contributions to free speech and pro democracy organizations.

Stephan, you should get eductated on this before you post, as spreading ignorance and misinformation like you do is nearly as bad as censorship. Both result in people not knowing the truth.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

I think the only country which protects parody is the United States. In Australia, parody is not a defence. So I don't think Google has any choice in this case.

Which is a pity. Encyclopedia Dramatica is fluffy rubbish, but often entertaining.

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Australia's censorship is legendary. The number of video games which are banned there is extraordinary.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

> So I don't think Google has any choice in this case.

I think you always have a choice, it's just a matter of which price you are willing to pay, which is likely dependent on the scope of the request, i.e. in Google's case the perceived trade off between pros and cons of disobedience. A company is made up of employees which can disobey censorship requests, at different levels (programmers, management...). Wikipedia writes: "Civil disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power international power."

Drastically put, to illustrate the point, if Google Inc were to receive a demand to reveal the personal details behind an anonymous political blogger, and Google was certain that obeying this order would mean a death sentence for that blogger by the local laws, then they may find it to be a reason for disobeying (including living with the consequences of that disobeying, for instance, it could result in less information for the citizens of that country due to Google being made to shut down their office in that hypothetical country, or it could result in legal problems for local employees of the company). This is just a hypothetical example, I don't know how Google would react.

In this current case, we may say Google had a choice but its individual employees didn't consider this case important enough to justify civil disobedience (or the thought of disobedience didn't even cross their minds; often in routine handlings of situations, the "responsibility" of a command chain is perceived to be outsourced to other parts of the chain for every part of the chain, i.e. no one is responsible at all, yet somehow the thing gets implemented). For instance they may not like censorship of what we may say is satire, but they may like less to get into legal troubles in Australia for disobeying this.

techpops [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

I agree with Torrey Hoffman. Google cannot be questioned about censorship in the light of recent events. Any attempt to do so shows ignorance.

As far as removing the search result goes. I really don't see the problem. It's a company that can choose to list whatever it wants to list. Don't like it, use another search engine.

Why this nonsense bubbled up to the top of my reader I can't really work out.

A S [PersonRank 3]

9 years ago #

This is exactly why I am not convinced that Google's statement to stop censorship in China is based on a purely principled stand for freedom of speech. It was simply Google's reaction to China's attack on its family jewels a.k.a. its computing infrastructure. If it was based on principle, Google should stop censorship everywhere.

Google should combine their censor algorithm with their safe search options. By default, show safe results which won't hurt the sensibilities of kids or... sensitive adults. But give the choice for the rest of us to see the pure, unvarnished results. That would be a better way to do it.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]A S: That's exactly right. If Google thought there was a principle at stake, the very least they would do is to issue a press release that states unambiguously something like: "Google believes that the content of web pages should not be subject to censorship in any country".

The next step, as Philipp points out, would be civil disobedience, which is usually thought of as something done by principled individuals. Has a for-profit corporation ever practised civil disobedience on a matter of principle rather than for financial reasons?

It's hard to see how corporate civil disobedience could reasonably work. If a corporation adopts a policy of civil disobedience on some matter of principle, can that corporation reasonably instruct all of their their employees to break the law and therefore put themselves at risk of government penalties?

Somehow I don't think it can work that way. Civil disobedience only seems workable and meaningful when practised by individuals under the own free volition. In the case of fighting censorship, people have done this by developing encryption technologies, operating open proxies, setting up tor nodes etc.

James M [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

I saw the page – it was racist and offensive on every level. It could not be classified as "satirical speech".

Paul Christian [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

The Google search engine needs a "butthurt" filter for the likes of Steve Hodder-Watt and James M., that way no offensive material will disturb their view.

Andy Wong [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Free speech is at the best of business interests of Google or alike. However, not obeying censorship laws in certain countries will also have Google's business interests being damanged. So, blame those censorship laws, don't blame Google.

Jenny C [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]James M

It is so satirical! Havent you opened your eyes?

They have an articles about how shitty white people are and articles about how shitty black people are, totally contradicting a clear racist point of view. And that is the point. Imagine a white racist going through this site. First he might think "Ha Ha" than " a moment, are they serious" and than "damm, they making fun of me!"

I think this site is a wonderfull way to laugh about all kinds of human stupidy.

But you see its also funny what happens when some "non-racist" and very "moral" people like you or they guy who wanted it off google's index read it. :-))

Alex Ksikes [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

I find it suspicious that the big GOOG is taking a stance on China when it is censoring results in France or Germany (anti-semitic stuff etc ...) and in a sense is abiding by the laws of these specific countries. I'd prefer not to see GOOG attempting any political moves and sole focus on innovation.

Cobalto [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

I just saw the site, and there is nothing satirical there, it is a lot of racist garbage not only against Australians but latin people, black people, judes among others... you need to set a point to be satirical, since it has no point or idea to expose its just racist... "we were better with Bush, i never heard about an international crisis with him".... thats satirical in comparison to "what would you expect of a redneck from Texas?"... that is discriminatory. ... google did well.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]Cobalto,

No-one's suggesting that the article is a piece of quality literature. But free speech cannot be meaningful unless it also protects bigoted rubbish. Otherwise, who should we trust to make the decision as to which ideas are permitted to be expressed and which are not?

Some of the article's contributing authors are probably venting their own prejudices, but others are probably just recycling the school playground "jokes" that they heard in the 1970s.

Either way, if people find that repugnant, the path forward is to improve society so that the contributors no longer have the urge to post such things, rather than to try to block the contributors from posting the thoughts that are already in their heads.

In an open society, you can gauge the mood of the people from what they say. Racist comments can reflect ignorance, but they can also reflect anger or fear. In an oppressive, censorship-laden society those feelings get bottled up, and the pressure builds up until it destabilizes the society. It's much better to let people openly express their bigotry, where it can be seen for what it is, than for them to build that bigotry into their own distorted world-view.

Jenny C [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]Cobalto

Again: Read the SITE! It has a point. It is satirical. You just don't get it if you just read one PAGE.

I got it by just reading one page, but i might be lucky. You in contrast seem to have to compare the stuff they write about white and black people, than you might get it.

Sometimes you have to work a little bit before you can make a judgement. Even if thats inconvenient.

Michael Martinez [PersonRank 5]

9 years ago #

And once again Google uses Chilling Effects dot Org to bully and bash people in punishment for their making legal requests.

Smooth move, Google.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]Michael: who is Google bullying? If someone makes a legal request, why shouldn't the text of that request, and the details of its consequences, be public?

Michael Martinez [PersonRank 5]

9 years ago #

Google regularly publishes takedown request information on Chilling Effects in order to intimidate people into NOT issuing takedown requests.

Now, if Google were to post a notice admitting it had violated intellectual property rights in a very public place, that would be a different story.

There is nothing "chilling" about people asking Websites to take down content those sites don't have a legal right to publish.

There IS a chilling aspect to Google's treating all IPR defenders as if they are the bad guys and turning them into pariahs by publicly shaming them.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]Michael,

The Encyclopedia Dramatica censorship discussed here relates to racial content rather than an intellectual property rights violation. But let's put that aside and address IPR violations anyway.

Why do you assume that publishing someone's IPR takedown notice equates to shaming them? If, as you assert, it's rightful to use legal force to stop an IPR violation, how could it possibly be shameful for people to find out what was done?

How could a takedown notice possibly be honorable when it is secret and shameful if it is public?

lailai [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

google should put disclaimer at top and have a page that lists all censored pages

AmishFurniture [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

My point is that no matter how tightly the Conroys of this world try to clamp down, there will always be cracks that are exploited. No matter how "clean" the feed, there's always going to something on the Internet that offends someone. Instead of worrying about where the line is drawn, we could start worrying about taking personal responsibility for ourselves and our children and leave everyone else free to do the same.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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