Google's launch of a new, self-censored search engine in China is a "black day" for freedom of expression, a leading international media watchdog says.Bollox. Headline news on BBC news, a feature on PM, and a few little caveats. Google faces a choice
- Abandon the largest, and fastest growing, market in the world to its rivals
- operate within that market
So, having made that commercial decision, they then have to make another choice
- Operate illegally within the market, but according to 'principles', and be pretty sure you'll get shut down
- Operate within the legal framework as set out by the recognised (and therefore legitimate) government
"Google has no choice but to give up to the Party," said one posting on the popular information technology Web site PCONLINE, signed simply "AS."They're being honest, and they'll tell the users that they're being censored. On every search that they are censored for. They'll also link to their main .com in the US, which users may or may not be able to access through the firewall.
Google's move was prompted by frequent disruptions of the Chinese-language version of its search engine registered under the company's dot-com address in the United States.
Government filtering has blocked access or created lengthy delays in response time.
Google's senior policy counsel Andrew McLaughlin defended the new site as better serving Chinese customers.
"In deciding how best to approach the Chinese -- or any -- market, we must balance our commitments to satisfy the interests of users, expand access to information, and respond to local conditions," McLaughlin said in an e-mailed statement, .
McLaughlin said search results would be removed based on local laws, regulations or policies.
"While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission," he said.
There was no indication that Google would disable access to its .com site within China.
McLaughlin said the company wouldn't host its e-mail or blogging services in China that can be mined for information about users, and would inform users if information had been deleted from searches. Such messages appeared in searches for Falun Gong and other sensitive topics.
Google has many, many faults. It's privacy policies and data hoarding tendencies are subject to significant criticisms. But this one? They made the only decision they could, and are keeping their Chinese users fully informed. Outside pressure isn't going to give the residents of China their freedom. It may help, but that's all. Internal pressure will do that; the UK democratised as its economy developed. Taiwan democratised as its economy developed. Every time Google.cn tells its users that they're being censored by the govt, the odds of change from within increase.
Criticise Google for the things it gets wrong. Not the things it gets right.