[LINK] Google Ends Censorship In China
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Thu Jan 14 11:34:17 AEDT 2010
> > Google Ends Censorship In China...
> I was just interviewed about this by ABC Sunshine Coast Radio ..
Good on you, Tom. America is treating the matter as quite important for
example, it's the lead item for the New York Times technology section &
complete with a Hilary Clinton quote. Almost an international incident.
'Googles Threat Echoed Everywhere, Except China'
By ANDREW JACOBS, MIGUEL HELFT and JOHN MARKOFF
Published: January 13, 2010 www.nytimes.com/pages/technology/index.html
BEIJING Googles declaration that it would stop cooperating with
Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in
the country ricocheted around the world Wednesday. But in China itself,
the news was heavily censored.
Some big Chinese news portals initially carried a short dispatch on
Googles announcement, but that account soon tumbled from the headlines,
and later reports omitted Googles references to free speech
The only government response came later in the day from Xinhua, the
official news agency, which ran a brief item quoting an anonymous
official who was seeking more information on Googles statement that it
could quit China.
Google linked its decision to sophisticated cyberattacks on its computer
systems that it suspected originated in China and that were aimed, at
least in part, at the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
In a statement, the United States secretary of state, Hillary Rodham
Clinton, expressed serious concerns about the infiltration of Google.
We look to the Chinese government for an explanation, Mrs. Clinton said.
Outside the companys gleaming offices in Beijing, a trickle of young
people laid floral bouquets and notes at the multicolored sign bearing
the Google logo. As daylight faded, two 18-year-old law students
approached with a bottle of rice liquor and lit two candles. One of the
students said that she wanted to make a public gesture of support for
Google, which steadily has lost market share to Baidu, a Chinese-run
company that has close ties with the government.
The government should give people the right to see what they want
online, said the woman, Bing, who withheld her full name for fear that
it might cause her problems at school. The government cant always tell
lies to the people.
Since arriving in 2006 under an arrangement with the government that
purged its Chinese search results of banned topics, Google has come under
fire for abetting a system that increasingly restricts what can be read
Google said the attacks took place last week and were directed at about
34 companies or entities, most of them in Silicon Valley in California,
according to people with knowledge of Googles investigation. The
attackers may have penetrated elaborate computer security systems and
obtained crucial corporate data and software source codes, though Google
said it did not itself suffer losses of that kind.
While the scope of the hacking and the motivations and identities of the
hackers remained uncertain, Googles response amounted to an unambiguous
repudiation of its five-year courtship of the Chinese market, which most
major multinational companies consider crucial to growth. It is also
likely to enrage the Chinese authorities, who deny that they censor the
Internet and are accustomed to having major foreign companies adapt their
practices to Chinese norms.
On Wednesday afternoon, the software maker Adobe Systems, announced that
it, too, had endured a cyberattack. While it did not provide details
about the assault, which took place earlier this month, the company said
On Wall Street on Wednesday, Googles shares were down about one percent,
If news of Googles threat to quit China was largely muffled, there was
some back-and-forth on message boards and a torrent of Twitter
commentary accessible only to those able to circumvent the Great
Its not Google thats withdrawing from China, its China thats
withdrawing from the world, read one message.
While many comments mourned the prospect of Googles departure, others,
including Rao Jin, the founder of the Web forum Anti-CNN.com, expressed
suspicion over the announcement.
Mr. Rao, known for defending Chinas stances on issues like Tibet and
Xinjiang against Western media criticism, said he thought Google made its
decision under pressure from Mrs. Clinton, who met with Googles chief
executive last week as part of an effort to promote Internet freedom
around the world.
I think Googles departure from Chinese market would be a big loss to
Google, though not as big a loss to China because Baidu and other search
engines are still rising, Mr. Rao said in an interview. Any company in
China has to abide by Chinese rules, even though there are some times
when the rules may not be not so reasonable.
Hecaitou, a prominent blogger based in Beijing, also applauded the
companys announcement, although for different reasons. The possibility
of Google leaving China, he said, would send a message to Chinese leaders
intent on imposing greater restrictions online. Or at least he hoped it
In the short term, the Internet environment will be very cold, he
said. But for the government to close the door and revert to 30 years
ago is hard to imagine. If they want to go forward on the information
highway, theyll have to listen to others.
If Google does leave, it would be an unusual rebuke of China by one of
the largest and most admired technology companies, which had for years
coveted the countrys 300 million Web users. Google said it would try to
negotiate a new arrangement to provide uncensored results on its search
site, google.cn. But that is highly unlikely in a country that has the
most sweeping Web filtering system in the world. Google said it would
otherwise cease to run google.cn and would consider shutting its offices
in China, where it employs about 700 people, many of them well-paid
software engineers, and has an estimated $300 million a year in revenue.
(Page 2 of 2)
Google executives would not discuss in detail their reasons for
overturning their China strategy. But despite a costly investment, the
company has a much smaller share of the search market here than it does
in other major markets, commanding about one in three searches by
Google executives have privately fretted that the decision to censor the
search results on google.cn, to filter out topics banned by Chinese
censors, was out of sync with the companys motto, Dont be evil.
We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our
results on google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be
discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could
operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all, David
Drummond, senior vice president for corporate development and the chief
legal officer, said in a statement.
Wenqi Gao, a spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in New York, said he did
not see any problems with google.cn. I want to reaffirm that China is
committed to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign
companies in our country, he said in a phone interview.
In China, search requests that include words like Tiananmen Square
massacre or Dalai Lama come up blank. In recent months, the government
has also blocked YouTube, Googles video-sharing service.
While Googles business in China is small, analysts say that the country
could soon become one of the most lucrative Internet and mobile markets,
and a withdrawal would significantly reduce Googles long-term growth.
The consequences of not playing the China market could be very big for
any company, but particularly for an Internet company that makes its
money from advertising, said David B. Yoffie, a Harvard Business School
Mr. Yoffie said advertising played an even bigger role in the Internet in
China than it did in the United States. At the time of its arrival,
Google said that it believed that the benefits of its presence in China
outweighed the downside of being forced to censor some search results, as
it would provide more information and openness to Chinese citizens. The
company, however, has repeatedly said that it would monitor restrictions
Googles announcement Tuesday drew praise from free speech and human
rights advocates, many of whom had criticized the company over its
decision to enter the Chinese market.
Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the Open Society Institute and an expert
on the Chinese Internet, said that Google had endured repeated harassment
in recent months and that by having operations in China it potentially
risked the security of its users in China. She said many Chinese
dissidents used Gmail because its servers are hosted overseas and that it
offered extra encryption.
Unless they turn themselves into a Chinese company, Google could not
win, she said. The company has clearly put its foot down and said
enough is enough.
In the past year, Google has been increasingly constricted by the Chinese
government. In June, after briefly blocking access nationwide to its main
search engine and other services like Gmail, the government forced the
company to disable a function that lets the search engine suggest terms.
At the time, the government said it was simply seeking to remove
pornographic material from the search engine results.
Some Google executives suggested then that the campaign was a concerted
effort to stain the companys image. Since its entry into China, the
company has steadily lost market share to Baidu.
> While the
> Google announcement does not so in plain language, Google is clearly
> accusing the Chinese government of attacking its systems. Google has
> about one third of Chinese search revenue and this is a significant
> market to give up. What might be also significant is the effect on
> of the loss of access to Google, if the Chinese government decides to
> block the site. It will be an interesting economic experiment to see
> quickly other companies move in to fill the vacuum and if the lack of
> Google impedes the Chinese economy.
> ps: I had top declare my interest in the radio interview, as I have
> Google AdSense advertising on my web pages and earn money from them.
> More at:
> Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
> PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia http://www.tomw.net.au
> Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
> Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274
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