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Google "censorship"

Missy [PersonRank 4]

Friday, June 11, 2004
20 years ago

These little rants about Google and "censorship" always perplex me, especially when you admit that you understand that Google is bound by – and doesn't make – the laws in the countries in which they do business.

Philipp [PersonRank 1]

20 years ago #

You are right, these rants are mainly targeting those thinking a search engine should be regulated. But who says Google should not openly admit they censored a certain result?
I want something along the lines of "Due to your country's regulation, you are not seeing all results. <link>What's this?</link>"

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

20 years ago #

PS: I was using the "burning books" association because I was wondering how Google would react to a Nazi government asking them to hide very reasonable pages. Are they free from responsibility?

Missy [PersonRank 4]

20 years ago #

That's a very good question. I'm not sure "responsibility" is the right word for it, but it seems to be the best one available. Hrm.

I would like to think that if Google were confronted with such a situation, they would decline to hide the pages and cease doing business in the country. (See, to stick with their policy of "do no evil", they would *have to* pull their business out, or else be hypocritical.)

The thing with international business is that you're stuck adhereing to laws in other countries which either make no sense to you or would never** fly in your home country. You don't have many options – you can either follow the law and continue to do business there, or break it and risk legal problems.

I can see it from several angles. As a user, it's frustrating as hell to KNOW that there is information, but you can't get to it. As the business owner, it's frustrating as hell to have to put your users in that position – it tends to breed ill will. As the lawmakers...well, they're just trying to do the best they can.

I think Germany is rather a special case here. There seems to be a collective national guilt for the events of 60 years ago, events for which *modern teenagers* are still apologizing, even though they had nothing to do with it. The anti-hate speech laws seem to me to be an attempt to show the world "Look! We will NEVER let this awful thing happen again! We're going to stomp out the problems before they start!" It's a bit of an overreaction, IMO, but it's hard to fault them for trying.

Wow, that ran far afield, didn't it?

**Caveat: "Never" probably isn't a good word either, considering that (in the US) recently enacted laws make us look more like Nazi Germany than Nazi Germany ever looked (except for the camps of course, but the way things are going, it wouldn't surprise me if the current administration tried those next.)

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