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Google’s China censorship sets dangerous precedent

by wsws (reposted)
Google’s decision to abide by Chinese censors in the launch of its new search service is a blow against democratic rights and free speech that sets a dangerous precedent both in China and internationally.
Though certainly not the first such move—Yahoo’s and Microsoft’s MSN service have both stated that they abide by Chinese government censorship policies, banning such words as “freedom” and “democracy” from bulletin board postings—the decision by Google is perhaps the most significant.

The announcement January 25 came within days of news that Google had refused to hand over details of search records to the US government. In a response to a US government subpoena, the company said, “Google’s acceding to the request would suggest that it is willing to reveal information about those who use its services. This is not a perception that Google can accept. And one can envision scenarios where queries alone could reveal identifying information about a specific Google user, which is another outcome that Google cannot accept.”

Google’s refusal to go along with the Bush administration’s demand for data stood in contrast to Microsoft and Yahoo, which had handed over the requested material without a word.

In this context, Google’s decision to launch the service under what has been termed “self-censorship” received significant attention from the world’s media, with editorials weighing in both for and against the decision, together with the inevitable right-wing outrage against a company willing to abide by the demands of China’s “communist” government while refusing the supposedly more reasonable requests of the Bush administration.

Initial reports spoke of Google’s filters being far more severe than even those of Microsoft and Yahoo, blocking not only political and news sites, but also those referring to alcohol or sex. These proved to be technical difficulties that were quickly fixed, leaving only the, if anything, more ominous filtering of content based on government lists of banned material.

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just what is your demand here?
Tue, Feb 7, 2006 1:30PM
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Tue, Feb 7, 2006 11:55AM
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