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Students for a Free Tibet Protest Outside Google  (View post)

Marco Romano [PersonRank 0]

Thursday, January 26, 2006
16 years ago

I heard on NPR that when you type "Dalai Lama" into Google.cn it takes you to many articles by the Chinese government condemning the Dalai Lama. When you type the same thing into radio-free Google it takes you to the Dalai Lama's site.

Free Tibet! [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

Google has to rectify!
Freedom is more important than laws!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Results for [dalai lama] are indeed censored according to Google (they print the disclaimer at the bottom), but they have many top 10 results in common with Google.com.

Mark Draughn [PersonRank 5]

16 years ago #

Here's what I don't get: Suppose Google built a complete data center in China with its own database and its own googlebots. The googlebots would scan the web as usual, following links wherever they go. However, when the bots attempted to follow a link to censored content, the Chinese government firewall would block access, and the bots wouldn't add those blocked pages to the index. The resulting database would therefore contain only materials that passed Chinese censorship. No one would blame Google for this.

Instead, Google scans much of the web outside of China, and then omits pages blocked by the Chinese firewall from its result sets. The same search results are available to users as if the data center were entirely within China, but now people blame Google for the censorship.

It's not that we shouldn't be angry about the censorship. But shouldn't we be angry at China instead of Google?

sonia afroz [PersonRank 1]

16 years ago #

we should be annoyed with the lot of them. but as someone inside china pointed out, they're 'used to' living in the society they do and don't want us to 'continually remind them'. Well pah i say, that's their business if that's what some people think, but the rest of us have a say in what service providers WE use. and since i'm not happy in my search engine being a bunch of nasty f**ckers who have become/are aiming to become the de facto vehicle of nasty repression then i don't have to be happy with it, and im certainly going to make it clear to said company. they need to realize actions have consequences – fine let them make lots of money but they shouldn't expect anyone to have any respect left for them.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

> It's not that we shouldn't be angry about the censorship.
> But shouldn't we be angry at China instead of Google?

Many people are angry about the Chinese gov't censorship, and have been for a long time, and also voiced their opinion (ironically, it's these sites that are now often censored in Google.cn). But the fact that the moral decision originates with the Chinese gov't does not save Google from making their own moral decision when it accepts it.

Not even the law someone lives in saves people from making their own moral decision, and while Google's guilt in this is debatable I don't think we can rest it solely on the shoulders of the Chinese gov't. For example, "we are simply following orders" was an argument used by Nazis at the Nuremberg Trial in their defense. But ultimately, everyone is responsible for moral decisions they make.

Google apparently decided that their censoring of Chinese content is not so bad as to justify not doing it. Their defense is also that the end justifies the means, i.e. that overall they bring greater good to China. This too however is no valid argument on its own, e.g. torture can be defended like this ("I am torturing someone because with the information I need I can help stop criminal activities").

There are many other factors that can lower the responsibility and guilt connected to one's moral decisions (for example, you can look at a hypothetical case in which someone is threatened to be killed unless he kills someone else), and Google can indeed use many in their defense (not all, as their existence was not at stake). They are not as bad as the Chinese gov't. They are much, much better. But they are still responsible for their decisions made. It was not the Chinese gov't that pulled the censorship trigger, it was a Google engineer "just following orders." Ultimately these were the orders of the communist party.

One example was pointed out to me by a friend. What would happen if Google would try to open an office in a segregationist, racist country. What if they were, according to local laws, not allowed to hire members of an ethnic minority in this country. Would they follow these orders? And if not, what would be their reasoning for rejecting this "order"? This is a question I asked the Google support, and I'm waiting for their answer.

Caleb E [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

correct me if i'm wrong, but if google *didn't* censor the results, a lot of the links would be dead b/c of the firewall....

sonia afroz [PersonRank 1]

16 years ago #

yes obviously the point is google isn't 'changing' anything in the sense that of course it would get censored anyway because that's what the Chinese authorities do, and they'll get someone else to do it anyway. And of course China thinking it can carry on with these repressive laws is the main problem clearly. The fact is though that if Google are going to do what they're doing then they can't expect anyone not to see them as an accessory, and keep their 'reputation' of being 'goody-goodies'. They should be seen for what they are. no different from the industry nasties like microsoft...

and this is a great opportunity now for the rest of us to break their almost monopolistic hold – as we all know these media monoliths are a major problem for society.

Independent media is the way forward. we seem to keep going back. And yes, you can't necessarily 'blame' one bunch of profit-makers who've had an opportunity and have grabbed it – sure. But the system overall certainly is at fault and hugely problematic, and this is just one symbol.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

the guarduian is reporting more on this ..

"Students For A Free Tibet, a New York-based organisation campaigning against China's repressive policies, claims that more than 50,000 letters have been sent to Google bosses "

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,,1712662,00.html

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