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Google Censorship FAQ  (View post)

Eric [PersonRank 0]

Friday, March 2, 2007
11 years ago6,916 views

I guess there is a tiny typo in this article.
In the answer of "Does Google censor less than other Chinese search engines, or more?", It states that " “六四” (China’s president Hu Jintao)". Actually “六四” means "June. 4th, 1989 (Ti'anmen Square)"

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Edit: Thanks Eric, corrected! Also added an argument by Ionut.

Ludwik Trammer [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

You can digg this article: digg.com/tech_news/The_Google_ ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Edit: Some spelling corrections with hat tip to Aaron!

Anonymous Googler [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Excellent summary, Philipp! It's an ongoing debate internally. Overall, Googlers are strongly in favor of making all information available to everyone (that's the whole point of the company's mission). The problems come up when "all information" and "everyone" come into conflict, usually because of government demands (though sometimes also from widely held social opinions). When we can't achieve both simultaneously, the question becomes one of which we should try to satisfy first, in the hopes that it will increase our ability to achieve the other in the longer term. This is an experiement. Sometimes (as Sergey noted) experiments have mixed or negative results.

On the plus side, the issue of imposed censorship, monitoring, and demands for users' confidential information is now a lot more visible (and that's just in the US :-)). The more awareness people have of how governments want to manipulate and monitor them, the better.

As Google has gotten larger it's discovered that "don't be evil" gets more complicated as more people start measuring us against our own standards. This is not a bad thing at all. I've occasionally disagreed with interpretations and comments people have made here, but I absolutely agree that the questions need to be asked. Keep them coming.

(as to why these posts are anonymous--you're right, I might not work for Google. I don't want anyone to confuse my personal opinions with company policy.)

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

[Posting from a conversation I had with Aaron Swartz just now, I think it touches an interesting issue.]

Aaron: ____________
Here's the big unanswered question: how does Google decide what to censor?
________________________

Isn't the answer: whatever the Chinese government decides *they* want to have censored?

Aaron: ____________
It's much more complicated than that. As I understand it, China doesn't have a ministry of censorship telling ISPs what they can and can't serve. Instead, they just punish ISPs when something embarrassing happens. That means the ISPs have to figure out for themselves what to censor to avoid embarrassing the government and how to do it.

So either the Chinese government has created a special department just for censoring Google (in which case, what's it called? who runs it? what do they say about themselves?) or Google has some guy sitting and trying to figure out what will embarrass the Chinese government (in which case, wtf? how do they decide that? since when is that an appropriate job for Google?).
________________________

I'm actually also very interested in this question. I asked something along the lines on the last Google Press day, and Google was brave enough to put my question through via their web-streamed session, though they were no[t] brave enough to give a real answer:

<<Q: Do you sometimes have discussions with the Chinese government over specific sites you are requested to censor?
A: Under Chinese Law we are required to filter some of the content, on our .cn site not on .com site. From time to time, as you would expect, with any authority you have conversations about how that law should be applied in a particular circumstance.>>

On January 9th this year, I sent another set of 3 questions to Google press, including:

<<Q: How does Google censor their Chinese results?>>

This email was not answered.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

==>"China doesn't have a ministry of censorship telling ISPs what they can and can't serve"

is not the Ministry of Public Security, China responsible for laying out the round rules ? There are so-called self-disciplinary rules for game manufacturers, cell phone short message servers, and website administrators.

Project Golden Shield is one of the best infra structure's implemented upto date by any national authority.. wither its being used for good or bad ..is a difference of opinion.. monitoring of internet is only one of the pillars of thier strategy..

Btw.. why is nobody bothering about the echelon systems that other governments run eh ?? is that good thing to do ?? Is it fair only to single out China ?? why not America ??

german surfer [PersonRank 1]

11 years ago #

"Can users (...) circumvent the Google censorship?
   Yes, users can switch from (...) Google.de (...) to e.g. Google.com to circumvent most censorship. "

I am from Germany and the above is not right for *normal* surfing. I am always redirected to google.de or google.de in english.

Only when I use TOR (the Onion Router) that hides my real IP from the eyes of google, I come out at google.com.

missi [PersonRank 1]

11 years ago #

geman-surfer: in Firefox -> Einstellungen -> Erweitert -> Sprachen bearbeiten. Make english as default ;)

SF surfer [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Google do the minimum they need to in any market to make the most money they can. That's it. Phrases like "do no evil" are useful PR in some markets, not in others. They censor in China so they can do business there. The discussion of the merits of censorship ("censoring may not be great but it’s the lesser of two evils") is baloney, or at least PR to keep certain markets happier so they can continue to make money from Advertising.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

German surfer: you can click to "go to google.com" after you're redirected to Google.de. Works for me, and I'm also in Germany.

Juha-Matti Laurio [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

A very coverage and informative post, it's more a document than only post in the blog! ;-)
We hope you have enough time for your wife when writing these documents for the community. ;-) :-)

Ron Schott [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Stefan Geens at Ogle Earth (ogleearth.com/) maintains excellent and exhaustive coverage of purported and documented examples of censorship of Google Earth imagery. He maintains a list of those posts at: del.icio.us/ogleearth/censorsh ...

Haas [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

I am confused over the attention that Chinese censorship has received. Why is this a big deal?

Information through ages had never been completely free. The inherent value of information is partly intrinsic to its exclusivity. Why now all of a sudden that it has to be free beyond boundary?

Besides I smell western snobbery coming through. Every country censors information from the public. Don't tell me you can access all information in US. Patriot act is a prime example. How many times have you seen how causality if iraqi civilians on US tv stations compared to the 2k US soldiers who died. Where did the free access of information and equal time for both sides go? This blog never really pushed the censorship of germany before chinese episode took place. Now all of a sudden, it is a big deal. Is it because the folks here love chinese people? I doubt it. Is it because they are so passionate about free information everywhere. Where were they since Germany was censoring from day one?

To each his own. Trying to put as if something really horrible has been happening in china just shows ignorance. The chinese government is doing what is best for them just like Us foreign policy does. Big effing deal.

If the author is truly concerned about free information, might I ask how many letter has he sent to the Germany government on their own censorship. Until that cloud clears, all this is just high moral ground with nothing to stand on.

Peace out.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

> This blog never really pushed the censorship
> of germany before chinese episode took place.

Sites Google Censors (2005)
<<I entered a line of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf into Google Germany to compare the results with Google.com. There were three sites missing, and they led me to a more complete list of sites Google censors in either Google German or Google France ....>>
blogoscoped.com/archive/2005-0 ...

Google Censorship (2003)
<<If you want to know if results are hidden from you, consult the sites excluded from Google.fr or Google.de list (from October 2002). I find this very disturbing. What if I want to research racial websites online? ... Google is opening the flood-gates for abuse.>>
blogoscoped.com/archive/2003_0 ...

New Google Censorship (2004)
<<Yet another web site is shielded from German visitors as the Nazi page of Gary Lauck has been removed from Google.de. ... Great job Google in helping out censorship wherever you can by respecting state laws. I guess it makes sense because you are not responsible for politics, and we should start figuring out how to fight censorship by voting for better politicians. One thing though to enhance usability – whenever Germans enter Stormfront or Gary Lauck into your search engine, please display a little burned book icon to indicate the peculiar lack of results.>>
blogoscoped.com/archive/2004_0 ...

Google Censorship [2] (2004)
<<Google Inc states they do not censor sites, thus not remove JewWatch.com. However they do admit to censor what is illegal. In German Google, JewWatch.com is completely removed from the listings. ... What this boils down to is that Google Inc will censor whatever a state decides to censor>>
blogoscoped.com/archive/2004_0 ...

Google makes localized versions harder to escape (2003)
<<The German Google is *not* just a translation of US-Google into German language ... it's actually a different site. Tabs are missing (like Google News), search results are censored (like "white power" domain StormFront.org). ... Personally, I take full responsibility if ever a StormFront.org page pops up in my search result. Maybe it's tough for Google Inc. to believe, but even though I'm German, I think I won't be tempted to join them.>>
blogoscoped.com/archive/2003_0 ...

Google Search Tips 2005 (2005)
<<Not all Googles are the same! Depending on your location, Google will forward you to a different country-specific version of Google with potentially different results to the same query. A search for [site:stormfront.org] from the US will yield hundreds of thousands of results, whereas the same search from Germany (at least if you don’t change the default redirect to Google.de) returns... zilch.>>
blogoscoped.com/archive/2005-0 ...

Google Ethics (2004)
blogoscoped.com/archive/2004_0 ...
<<Google always emphasizes they don't control their own results. However Google often omits the fact it is them who: ... – Hides specific hate-sites (e.g. when searching for "Stormfront" on German Google). ... Google makes a snapshot of Web reality by letting you point it to specific words. They should restrict themselves controlling what could be equalled to an anti red eye effect in a digitial camera (and fight nothing but spam). Other than that people prefer *real* colors – or just buy another camera.>>

german surfer [PersonRank 1]

11 years ago #

[put at-character here] missi, @ Philip Lenssen

Thank you for your responses. It might be a failure in my browser (Konqueror). The only way for me to see google.com is to use TOR.

Julien Pain [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Thanks for this very good summary of the debate.
Julien Pain
Reporters Without Borders

USA in China [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

While Google censors things in China (where I live) I find that preferable to not offering search at all. People can enrich their lives by finding information via Google. The Chinese government will change over time but governmental change isn't quick.

Besides I would have to move if it got blocked (an SEO who can't see Google....)!

Mysterius [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

[put at-character here]Haas: The Patriot Act? The controversy over *that* was the concern that the government would gather too much information and violate privacy rights, not concern that the government would censor information. Your statements seem to indicate that you don't really have any idea what the free speech scene is like in the US or the "West" in general, and that you just picked up on the Patriot Act as some vaguely critical piece that was protested by activists.

And I've seen the Iraqi casualty counts for both sides. It just so happens that many news outlets are focused on the US casualty count and pushing the public to see how they react, though the Iraqi count is occasionally used to make the argument that the US presence is useless and immoral. In any case, the information is hardly censored.

And what the heck does China's internal suppression of critics has to do with US foreign policy? One is a government doing what it is foremost responsible for, interacting with other nations, and the other is a regime dedicated to keeping itself in power by smothering the voice of its own people. You decide which is which.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

USA in China writes:
> While Google censors things in China (where I live) I
> find that preferable to not offering search at all.

Please also see the FAQ entry "Did Google fail to offer Google search at all before the self-censored Google.cn?"...

[put at-character here]Mysterius, maybe Haas means "implicit censorship" that happens when media ignores certain sides of the view consistently. I'm just offering a possible interpretation, not saying this is right/ wrong. And as for Patriot Act, maybe (*maybe*!) Haas means that certain information is suppressed, e.g. an IT company may not tell others when the government requested information from them, and also, additional supervision may lead to people "self-censoring" their choice of input (e.g. which books to get from the library).

Marek Wawrzyniak [PersonRank 1]

11 years ago #

Very well summarized Philipp. Thank you for putting some time to pull this together. I grew up behind the iron curtain and I know very well about censorship. The powers to be "protected" us from harm by exercising censorship. ... yeah ... thanks a lot. ;-)

Best.

Mysterius [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp: Perhaps. I'm not getting much satisfaction from arguing the big moral themes here, probably because I look at these issues very much case-by-case, so I'll leave this debate as it is for now.

Hong Xiaowan [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

It is a full classic article for google censorship by now, it is a standard some kind, many china bloggers cache this article.

Hong Xiaowan [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

google.com/search?hl=zh-CN& ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

That is really cool. google.blogoscoped.cn / googleblogoscopedcn.blogspot.c ... is doing a terrific job.

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