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Google Censorship API?  (View post)

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

Friday, February 9, 2007
11 years ago3,160 views

Actually, there's already a proposed censorship standard API for URLs. From what's been revealed of actual texts of censorship orders, governments don't bother. They just send legal orders and leave it to receiver to handle the technical details. That's less work for the government official.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Sidenote: In Germany, to get something censored you can either send a court request directly to the search engine, or add a domain to the so-called "BPjM-Modul", which contans hashed domain data that Google and others access from a central BPjM server. This module is provided in cooperation with the FSM, the "*Voluntary* Self-Monitoring of Multimedia Service Providers" which Google joined. Google Germany did not yet answer my questions regarding this module, which I sent off roughly half a year ago. (My specific question was whether the BPjM module was used only when SafeSearch is activated – because BPjM means "Federal Department for Media Harmful to *Young* Persons." The FSM hinted that a general ban, not just a youth-protection ban, is the way to go per the FSM's code of conduct which Google and others decided to agree to.) The German list is not public, but you can request the information whether or not a specific URL is censored by emailing liste[put at-character here]bundespruefstelle.de. Google USA also ignores my specific questions on Chinese censorship (those that go beyond their help entry on censorship), so I don't have more information on how they handle this.

Pidster [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Neat idea, not sure all the governments of the world will want to automate the identification of sensitive locations though.

Kinda why they keep them secret in the first place...

Milly [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Yeah, neat idea. (What's the German for neat? Beißend? Schafsgesicht?)

But Philipp, I fear you're being slightly too optimistic about how soon Google's engineers could return to business as usual. As is, it would still require clumsy conversations about which new filters (submitted via the API) to apply, and where and when.

Instead, I imagine they'd want to algorithmically weight the submissions. They couldn't rely on backlinks of course, nor on different governments ranking each others blacklists (by popularity or some other form of 'vote'), because China wouldn't approve of how Germany, censors, say, nor vice versa.

Rather, Google would need to assign weight, maybe called LieBack, by appropriate factors: GNP, or SSL-servers/million-inhabitants, perhaps with some tweaking to allow for economic growth potential (e.g. the ICT Opportunity Index). I'm sure Google is already using the figures in many business development and strategy areas, so it shouldn't be too hard to plug it into the LIE API.

That way the important and fast-growing jurisdictions (e.g. China, Germany) could have their policies implemented promptly and efficiently, whilst unimportant places (e.g. Zimbabwe, Myanmar) need not (yet) occupy any valuable Google engineer or CPU time.

Of course, all this might begin to sound a little *too* efficient, even inhuman, for Google's purposes, but a friendly Google blogger could give it a human face, without actually giving any substantive information. I'd suggest Andrew McLaughlin, who, after all, managed to officially announce Google's willing assimilation within the Great Firewall without even mentioning the word censorship.

And if Yahoo, MSN, Ask, etc join in, maybe they could all display a logo, proudly proclaiming their compliance with the World Electronic Localized Information Erasure scheme.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

> Yeah, neat idea. (What's the German for
> neat? Beißend? Schafsgesicht?)

Neat = nett, cool, prima, hübsch... "Schafsgesicht" means sheep face, I don't know what kind of dictionary you're working on :)

Milly [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Sheep face! Oh my, that's funny :). And I can see why my dictionary said that, whether or not it's actually right :-

dict.cc/deutsch-englisch/Schaf ...
dict.cc/german-english/bei%DFe ...

Of course, I myself was sheep faced when I asked about the translation of "neat" ...

Philipp, you must have enough of these type of (terrific) posts to write another book: "55 Ways to Warm Google's Feet".

(And just in case that expression doesn't translate: answers.com/main/ntquery?tname ...).

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