PDA

View Full Version : Google de-censoring Google.cn



cobretti
13-01-2010, 01:57 AM
Google to end censorship in China over cyber attacks (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jan/12/google-china-ends-censorship)

As much as this is a move to be applauded, the fact that Google, ever the champion of freedom of information, ever were comfortable with censoring information at the request of the Chinese government is appalling. Still, it's nice to see Google adhering to their original "Don't be evil" mindset in a time they're getting so much press, whether it be their shady ads business or their march to world domination.

Anyone have any thoughts on the ramifications of this, and what it could mean for the Chinese population and the surrounding area?

massrock
13-01-2010, 09:53 AM
As much as this is a move to be applauded, the fact that Google, ever the champion of freedom of information, ever were comfortable with censoring information at the request of the Chinese government is appalling.
True, bet then businesses generally need to observe local laws if they wish to operate in a particular territory. Disappointing then, but not so hard to understand in those terms.

Be interesting to see what happens now though, the Chinese gov will have to decide whether to allow the (really inevitable I think) free flow of information or to block further. Just as long as they don't hire Bono as a consultant.

scottdisco
13-01-2010, 11:03 AM
on the one hand you have to applaud Google for (finally) living up to their motto here, but on the other hand, would a restricted Google service in China do more good than no service at all? (the answer is of course yes, surely. massrock's opening paragraph is clearly on the money however much what you might call my liberal absolutism would like to throw mud-balls at google; context is all, natch. i'm clearly setting up this analogy expecting a free Google to be forced out of China. there's no way Beijing would allow a free search engine to operate in its territory.)

Google will presumably take something of a financial hit off this but they are obviously a very wealthy company operating in many territories so who knows if there would be job losses even? i doubt it, but that's a total guess, granted. maybe relocations, i don't know how many people based in China work for them.

i'm kind of w cobretti here, Google gets to walk away from something that was causing them image problems, presumably giving head office the odd headache etc (and they do seem quite an image conscious company), can now look good, and in actual fact it doesn't really cost them too much.

they weren't puffing their chests up and striding about w all this big, progressive noise when they first went in to China, were they? (admittedly this is a juvenile observation, as i would have to be stunningly naive to not think organisations don't seek to turn publicity to their advantage, whatever their background.)

of course, be that as it may, as i said at the top of my post, Google being available in China is better than none at all, so i should probably cut them slack. (this reminds me a bit of the Scott Trust sending journalists to Syria to work on regime newspapers: it's better to engage and try to winnow in a little more light than stand aside. a very imprecise analogy, granted, but i think you see what i'm getting at *.)

it goes without saying i hope massrock's bracketed comments come true but in the short-medium term all i can see Beijing doing is keeping these blocks up, obviously information will find a way through, but - formally at least - restrictions of the new, expanded and even more egregious type as described in the article, will remain.

as for the surrounding area, i don't think it will do much at all in terms of ripples. east and se Asia boasts a handful of the world's strictest govts to begin w, people who wouldn't necessarily need to take their cues from Beijing (though a powerful neighbour who behaves as you do is always a nice tonic). as for some other countries in the region, Thailand is an odd one, it's vacillated in recent years on information freedom.

of course all the above w the obvious caveat that Beijing is so big and ugly (the prison camp networks, the lack of due process, the crushing of communities) that some of my qualifications are arguably being too kind to them, and, perhaps Google.

wow a lot of waffle to say not much.

* though the fact that other Guardian Group employees (eg Tisdall in the main paper) have often cut too much slack to the Syrian regime sticks in the throat enormously.

cobretti
13-01-2010, 11:36 AM
Aye, as much as a censored service did still benefit Chinese people as it still democratised information to a certain extent, it's still undeniable that for Google to be complicit with Beijing's agenda was quite hypocritical for the company, and that's ultimately why they came under fire for the move.

I too would obviously like to see China loosen their grip on the flow of information in their country, but it just seems very unlikely. There's definitely an interesting parallel here though, you have China on their way to becoming this new Eastern power that could eventually rival the US or Europe for Global influence, and then you have Google, well on its way to becoming one of the biggest companies in the world. Both could end up in a sort of power struggle, as this will no doubt reignite debate over China's free speech laws, and in a best case scenario they may cave in to being a bit more liberal with their restrictions, which could serve as a kind of olive branch to the West to show that their motivations aren't completely incompatible with those of the US, Europe etc.

grizzleb
13-01-2010, 01:05 PM
To a certain extent you could say it was just a kind of politicking from Google in terms of ensuring the internet and their search engine gained a foothold in China to the extent that it would be difficult to remove after the act - and then can do what they are doing now. I'm not sure about that, but it is to be heavily commended and if I'm honest I didn't see this coming at all. Too many western companies are only too happy to go along with Chinese demands at the expense of morality. I'd like to say that it will have major effects, but I can't see it. The great firewall and all that, there will be more procedures to stop any full flow. Plus, most internet activity in China as here has little to do with politics and activism and more to do with shopping, blah blah blah. The chinese can finally watch Alex Jones. :D

cobretti
13-01-2010, 01:34 PM
Maybe Google knew what they were doing all along, and it was all a pre planned to get them some good publicity further down the line :rolleyes:

CHAOTROPIC
13-01-2010, 01:51 PM
I've only had a quick scan of the article but it seems that Google made the decision because of a massive and narrowly-averted cyber attack against it designed to gather information on human rights activists in China. The implication being that the Chinese government was attempting to hijack Google's search processes in order to further its internal repressions. I can see why Google would be outraged if it thought that its operations in China could be used by the Chinese secret services as a honey trap to lure activists out into the open.

grizzleb
13-01-2010, 01:56 PM
Maybe Google knew what they were doing all along, and it was all a pre planned to get them some good publicity further down the line :rolleyes:

That's what the Chinese will be thinking once they get on infowars.com.

Chaotopic - shows a bit of hypocrisy there from google if you're right. And I think you probably are, OK maintaining the status quo, but if they are directly involved then they want out...

polystyle desu
13-01-2010, 04:38 PM
Good topic Cobretti

News /no news ... Google > < China ( CCP )
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/world/asia/14beijing.html?hp


and who is the competition ? Baidu -and they are on good terms with the CCP /Gov
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/technology/companies/14baidu.html?ref=business

scottdisco
13-01-2010, 04:56 PM
To a certain extent you could say it was just a kind of politicking from Google in terms of ensuring the internet and their search engine gained a foothold in China to the extent that it would be difficult to remove after the act - and then can do what they are doing now. I'm not sure about that, but it is to be heavily commended and if I'm honest I didn't see this coming at all.

good analysis, like the sound of this line.


Plus, most internet activity in China as here has little to do with politics and activism and more to do with shopping, blah blah blah. The chinese can finally watch Alex Jones. :D

that's true, both counts :)


Google users "are all very active users of the Internet. They have high demand for the stability of Gmail, and also rely on it a lot in their daily lives," said Lu Bowang, managing partner with the China IntelliConsulting Corp. The firm estimates that 80 million people log on to Google at least once a week, and half are frequent users of the Web site. If Google leaves China, the impact on the Chinese Internet will be "huge," Mr. Lu said. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704362004575000440265987982.html?m od=WSJ_Tech_LEADSecond)

incidentally, i'm not one who pays too much attention to the business pages, but i did raise the issue of Google's finances ^ so will mention a stat from one op-ed


Google's exit is an extraordinary move, writing off $350 million in revenues and the world’s biggest web market. (http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6986214.ece)

certainly, these hack attempts are worrying, especially given some occurred w gmail users outside China (and it goes w out saying if some attempts are successful they could have potentially grave consequences for activists on the ground).

i think my take atm is somewhere between grizzleb and CHAOTROPIC (albeit i think everything everyone's said so far has been otm):

OK, google have been fine maintaining the status quo (though what else could they do if they are to engage there, it's either go in and compromise, or stay out and do nothing), but on the other hand, their activities in democratising information and providing a service for which there is clearly great popular demand, these are definite good things that google has been doing w what they could get away w, and so maybe they were horrified to see Beijing appear to up the ante w these attacks (if Beijing are responsible, as seems likely), and this is just their rubicon, so i am not sure if this makes them hypocrites.

(that said, there is an obvious caveat that a global intelligence-gathering organisation are clearly not stupid about some of the excesses of the CCP, so they shouldn't be surprised, or too surprised anyway, when this sort of unwelcome development occurs.)

@PS: that WSJ link i post (first link) has some closing thoughts about google dot cn's competitors

grizzleb
13-01-2010, 06:22 PM
Sort of off topic but a good article on this sort of thing was in last months Prospect magazine.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2009/11/how-dictators-watch-us-on-the-web/

mind_philip
14-01-2010, 12:46 AM
While it's laudable that Google is high-tailing out of China, I suspect at least part of it is to do with their miserable failure to challenge the local search properties there for market share. Although $350m in revenue is a big number, its actually fucking peanuts compared to the size of the market - for comparison Google's revenues from the UK alone are well over $1bn per annum.

It's a good move in terms of internal politics though. I worked for Google when the original decision was made to go into China, and outside of certain kool-aid drinking pockets of approval, the decision was pretty heavily disliked by the rank and file.

polystyle desu
14-01-2010, 04:40 AM
who found what on Google.cn ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/technology/14google.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

scottdisco
14-01-2010, 10:59 AM
It's a good move in terms of internal politics though. I worked for Google when the original decision was made to go into China, and outside of certain kool-aid drinking pockets of approval, the decision was pretty heavily disliked by the rank and file.

comforting to know.

and very good to read you Philip!

polystyle desu
19-01-2010, 11:03 PM
For what's it's worth- Google is part of the story , but only part >

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/technology/20cyber.html?hp


Further, CCP China and network China ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/opinion/20friedman.html?hp

polystyle desu
21-01-2010, 01:57 AM
then by today ... http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/world/asia/21china.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

polystyle desu
22-01-2010, 02:51 PM
CCP's reaction to Hillary's statement ... predictable
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/world/asia/23diplo.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

cobretti
26-01-2010, 07:43 PM
Thanks for the links Desu :)

polystyle desu
19-02-2010, 01:33 PM
They have been digging into where those cyber attacks came from ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/technology/19china.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
:(

polystyle desu
23-03-2010, 04:55 PM
Google hoped to be ok in Hong Kong , but ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/technology/24google.html?hp

polystyle desu
24-03-2010, 04:54 PM
One effect of Google pulling out ?
After Beijing's sandstorm, what will be in the Chinese web ?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/business/global/24internet.html?hp